CHP Officer Fatally Shoots ‘Aggressive’ Man

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A man who walked into the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles with a bag over his hands and began ordering people to get on the ground was fatally shot Wednesday by a California Highway Patrol officer.

The 42-year-old man followed an employee into the building in the 300 block of South Spring Street at about 6:10 a.m. through the front door, CHP Sgt. Saul Gomez said. The building was not open to the public at the time.

The suspect  – who has not been positively identified and who may be from out of town — apparently was not a current or former employee of the building, Gomez said in a briefing outside the building early this afternoon.

“We are still going through that database,” Gomez said. “The building has 2,700 employees. Investigators have quite a task to go through all those names.”

When the man entered the building, his hands were covered in a bag, and as he approached the security checkpoint inside the door, he raised his covered hands in an “aggressive shooting stance” and began barking orders at people inside, Gomez said.

As some people got on the ground, a CHP officer who was in the building confronted the man and fired an estimated five shots, fatally wounding him, Gomez said.

Investigators have not found a weapon that might have been in the man’s possession, Gomez said.

Gomez said it was unclear if the man intended to take hostages. No one else in the building was injured, including the officer who fired the shots, officials said.

The CHP provides security for the state building.

Immigrant Workers Moved by Show of Support

May 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Immigrant workers must speak up against the injustices they face, said Socorro Aranda Monday as she joined the thousands of people carrying signs and chanting during May Day marches and rallies in downtown Los Angeles.

With President Trump’s constant negative portrayal of immigrants, it’s more important than ever to speak out, said the 78-year-old native of Nicaragua.

“We did not come to take anybody’s job away,” Aranda said, before accusing Trump of failing the working class.

“We are just fighting for a living wage.”

Thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles Monday during the annual May Day marches. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles Monday during the annual May Day marches. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Traditionally a day to rally for workers’ rights, in recent years May 1 observances have evolved to include other social, political and civil rights issues, most notably rights for immigrants in the country illegally and for reforming U.S. immigration policies.

Monday, the focus was on resisting President Trump and his policies – on all fronts.

“We must not stand idly by and watch our country while it’s under attack,” said Maggie Reyes, 60, of Pasadena.

This year, May Day was not just about issues important to workers, but also a chance to voice opposition to the president’s rhetoric, and the consequences to those who don’t, labor attorney Glenn Rothner told EGP.

“I’m tired of Trump demonizing immigrants,” he said. “I hope the take away for leaders is that they should be running scared in 2018.”

Estimates on the number of people who took part in the May Day events vary, ranging from 15,000 to 30,000, less than a third of what organizers anticipated.

The protest march kicked off at MacArthur Park and ended with a rally at Los Angeles City Hall, where, as one speaker said, this was “not a party but a protest and a fight.”

While some protesters acknowledged it’s unlikely the president would be moved by their display of resistance, they were adamant about the importance of supporting those being targeted by his executive measures and constant attacks.

Carol Peralta, 23, marched for her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Central America.

“Our families may not be able to come out, out of fear, or they just don’t have the privilege of being able to take a day off from work, so we have to be here to represent them,” she told EGP.

Peralta said it made her hopeful to see it’s not just Latinos fighting Trump’s immigration stance.

“Even if they are not being affected by it directly, everyone can see the wrong,” she said.

But across the way, at the downtown Federal Building, a line of LAPD officers stood between May Day marchers and a group of 100 or so Trump supporters who were there to defend the president’s actions. One of their signs said it all: “Love our America and constitution or leave!”

“I’m with them,” a small boy of about 12 years old told police, pointing at the pro-Trump contingent from which he’d somehow been separated. His words, innocent as they may have been, were a poignant reminder of the gulf between the two sides.

“It shows that in their mind there is a separation, Peralta said after witnessing the exchange. “ There is a distinction for them, that ‘I’m not one of them.’”

Various organizations that marched separately in the past joined forces this year, uniting under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles.” (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Various organizations that marched separately in the past joined forces this year, uniting under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles.” (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Angered by the “hate Trump is encouraging,” Jay Ellis, 73, said he went to the march to turn his anger into something more positive.

“I’m here to support Latinos,” he told EGP, happy to see the crowds of people who poured into the streets of downtown L.A.

“It’s great to see Trump can’t stop everything,” he said.

Alvaro Reyes grew increasingly emotional as he looked out over the crowd gathered and listened to speakers rail against the wave of deportations that have shaken the immigrant community.

Reyes, a member of the United Service Workers West, said more people would have come out “but they were scared.”

“Everything Trump has done has been against Latinos and against the unions that are fighting for our rights as workers,” he pointed out.

Twenty-four-year-old Cynthia Ross works as a caregiver and is a member of Service Employees International Union 2015. Monday’s May Day protest was her first, and she said she was at first worried about her safety, but her fears subsided as she was surrounded by other Trump resisters, whether they were there to fight for Obamacare, immigrant rights, or against budget cuts.

“This has brought us together,” Ross said. “We must not let Trump break us apart.”

Sporting a ”Team Cedillo” t-shirt, Noel Salazar told EGP that our elected officials must also to stand up to the president.

“They must hold [Trump] accountable,” he said.

Dorian Adams-Wilson says she believes in the city, including it’s leaders, are in “full resist mode.”

“I want Trump to know we are going to resist everyday,” because “our lives are at stake.”


Action Delayed On Finalizing L.A. City Street Vending Policy

December 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council’s Economic Development Committee Tuesday withheld its support for a permitting program for mobile sidewalk vendors, with several members saying the proposal was not fully developed and calling for more study on how such a program would work.

The proposal to legalize the sale of food and wares on sidewalks and public parks is being championed by Councilmen Curren Price and Jose Huizar, who is up for re-election in March.

The committee meeting was preceded by a rally and news conference organized by the Los Angeles Street Vendors Campaign, in which vendors and speakers from the 55-member coalition prematurely called it an “historic” day in anticipation that the panel would greenlight the proposal and send it on to the full council.

Huizar and Price’s committee colleagues decided otherwise. Councilman Paul Koretz said near the end of the two-hour-plus meeting, “I wouldn’t want our vote to do anything to imply that I was moving a program forward.”

Koretz, along with Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Gil Cedillo, noted the thinness of a city report on the permitting proposal and said they felt as though they were being asked to support a program before key questions were answered.

Supporters of street vendors rally with L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar, center,  before the Economic Develompent Committee meeting on Tuesday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Supporters of street vendors rally with L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar, center, before the Economic Develompent Committee meeting on Tuesday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The council members said the report was short on details about the number of permits that would be available, the types of food or wares that could be sold, where vending could take place, permit fee amounts and whether there would be enough funding to enforce the regulation, among other issues.

“What I have before me is seven pages of a report that doesn’t really even weigh some of the fundamental policy decisions we’re going to have to make as a council,” Krekorian said.

Cedillo summed up the situation by saying, “This is not cooked yet.”

Huizar expressed bewilderment at the pushback from some business groups and fellow council members who criticized the lack of detail in the report, saying at least two meetings were held in recent months to obtain feedback from the public.

“This motion was introduced a year ago, and I thought we would be much further ahead in understanding what this means,” he said.

Some groups, representing businesses and neighborhood councils, urged the panel to consider allowing the permitting program in some areas, but not in others, depending on the individual needs and characteristics of each neighborhood.

But groups that have been pushing for legalization of street vending said they want the program applied citywide.

Maria Cabildo, director of the East Los Angeles Community Corporation, told the committee that vendors have been “waiting for this for a very long time.”

She said past attempts to permit street vending in MacArthur Park set up an uneven playing field for vendors, “so we really need a policy to be citywide, not just particular designated areas, for this policy to be effective.”

John Howland of the Central City Association, which represents downtown businesses, said “a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work in the city, and each neighborhood should have an opportunity to weigh in.”

There are an estimated 10,000 food vendors and 40,000 non-food vendors doing business in Los Angeles on sidewalks and in parks, according to city officials.

The report presented to the Economic Development Committee describes an organizational chart of what agencies would take part in the permitting program. Food vendors would need to obtain permits from the Department of Public Health, and the Los Angeles Police Department would play an enforcement role, city officials said.

The Economic and Workforce Development Department, the Recreation and Parks Department and the Bureau of Street Services would handle the permitting process under the current framework.

Supporters of legalizing street vending say it would open up entrepreneurial opportunities to low-income people and legitimize an already thriving street food culture in Los Angeles, while critics of the business model worry it would create a public nuisance and unsanitary conditions related to food sales.

The proposal has drawn mixed reaction from neighborhood groups. The Studio City Neighborhood Council officially opposes the idea, while the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council and the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council have come out in support of legalized, regulated street vending.

The Mar Vista Community Council expressed “deep concerns” about the proposed permitting system and asked that before street vending is legalized, issues such as liability, sanitation, noise, odors and trash be addressed.

The Central City East Association asked that street vending not be allowed in the Skid Row area in downtown Los Angeles. The group’s executive director, Raquel Beard, wrote in a letter to the City Council that “this area is already plagued with a mixed bag of public safety issues, (and) the last

thing it needs to add to the equation is street vending.”

Some concerns were raised that street vendors would be more prone to extortion by gang members, but LAPD officials said brick-and-mortar shops could also be affected, noting the best way to combat that type of crime is to report it to authorities.

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