California Black Media Takes a Look at 17 of
the Most High-Profile Cases
By Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
Today, Gov. Newsom signed AB 392 into law. The legislation limits when law enforcement can use lethal force in California.
In May, less than a week after the Assembly approved the landmark bill that Black Legislative Caucus chair Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) authored, police officers in Walnut Creek, a suburb of Oakland, shot and killed Miles Hall. He was a 23-year-old African-American man.
In the police report of the incident, which happened June 2, police officers say Hall threatened his mother before she called them to the scene of the killing. He was reportedly carrying a metal pole.
Since Hall’s death, there have been six more police-involved shootings in the state.
California has one of the highest rates of police shootings in the country. Citing numbers from 2013 to 2017, an advocacy group called Mapping Police Violence, ranked the Bakersfield Police Department the fifth deadliest in the United States. And The Guardian reported that Kern County had the "deadliest police force in the country" in 2015, a ranking determined by the Central Valley county’s high rate of officer-involved shootings per capita that year.
According to a Washington Post database tracking police killings of civilians since 2015, there have been a total of 661 police-involved shootings in California over the last 4 years. Of that number, California police officers shot and killed 107 African Americans.
Across the country, there have been a total of 4,510 police-involved fatal shootings within that same four-and-a-half-year period.
Up until Aug 17, 2019, police officers have killed 570 people by deadly force across the country. In California, this year alone, there have been 79 deaths resulting from police officer shootings. Twelve of the those killed were Black Californians.
In this report, California Black Media revisits 17 of the most prominent cases of police deadly force involving African American victims in the state since 1998.
Tyisha Miller, 19 (Riverside)
On Dec. 28, 1998, Tyisha Miller was reportedly unconscious, sitting inside a locked vehicle with a handgun, in full view, in her lap.
Police officers, responding to a 911 call from a Unocal 76 station, broke the vehicle’s window in an attempt to reach Miller.
Four police officers - two who were on the force for less than a year at the time of the incident - pulled out their weapons and fired 23 shots.
Twelve bullets hit Miller, taking her life.
The public later learned that Miller locked her car and fell asleep while the car was idling. She was reportedly waiting for help to fix a flat tire.
A friend who was riding with Miller earlier said she had gone back to where they lived to get someone to help them.
Over $22 million was spent to settle the case, reports say.
The incident prompted then-California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to order reforms to police use-of-force and lethal weapon guidelines. Riverside County’s Press-Enterprise reported in Dec. 2014 that the most significant police department changes were described in an agreement known as a "stipulated judgement" brokered between the city of Riverside and Lockyer.
“The stipulation became the first of its kind in the county. It was California's version of federal consent decrees that "mandated changes in departments found to have patterns of discrimination, excessive force or other civil rights violations," the Press-Enterprise wrote on Dec. 19, 2014.
Oscar Grant, 22, (Oakland)
During the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009, Oscar Grant, the father of one child, was shot in the back and killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle. Before the tragic incident, Grant had been detained on the platform of the Fruitvale BART train station in Oakland.
In May, a newly unsealed BART internal report confirmed that Grant’s death was more than likely not an accident and that one of the cops involved lied numerous times about the events leading up to Grant’s death.
Senate Bill 1421, a California police transparency bill that went into effect this year, made it possible for journalists to make a request for BART’s police report of the incident and release it to the public.
SB 1421 is expected to increase accuracy in police reports about the details of officer-involved shootings and cases.
On July 8, 2010, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but not guilty of the murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. He claimed he was reaching for his Taser and not his weapon.
Grant’s shooting sparked waves of protests in Oakland and across the country that led to the arrests of more than100 people.
James Rivera, 16 (Stockton)
James Rivera was shot 38 times by Stockton Police Department officers on July 22, 2010.
In 2012, the San Joaquin DA’s office ruled that the deadly use of force was justified, alleging that Rivera was driving a stolen van in reverse at high speed, intending to hit the officers.
Then in July 2017, a federal judge for the Eastern District of California said in a 12-page ruling that the officers’ testimonies were inconsistent and that the plaintiffs raised reasonable doubt as to whether it was possible for Rivera to back up the van out of a garage.
The judge ruling opened a path for a jury trial in a wrongful death lawsuit expected to begin in November.
Shaleem Tindle, 28 (Oakland)
On Jan. 3, 2018, Shaleem Tindle was shot three times in the back by a BART officer in West Oakland. Police alleged that he was in a fight with another man and that Tindle was carrying a gun.
The Alameda County District Attorney cleared BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu of all charges related to Tindle’s shooting in October 2018.
Tindle was reportedly walking to the BART Station with his fiancée, two young children, and his fiancee’s sister when he got into an argument with another man.
The two ended up wrestling on the sidewalk outside a barber shop and taqueria.
Police say two shots were fired during the tussle.
Officer Mateu heard the shots from his position in a BART Station about a block away. He ran toward the scene where he found the men grappling before shooting Tindle.
Manuel Loggins, 31 (San Clemente)
On Feb. 7, 2012, an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy shot and killed Manuel Loggins, a U.S. Marine sergeant and married father of three.
The officer shot Loggins through the window of his vehicle.
According to the police report, Loggins allegedly crashed through a parking lot gate at San Clemente High School while driving his GMC Yukon with his two daughters, then ages 9 and 14, in the car.
The officer said he asked Loggins, who was unarmed, to show his hands before he shot him three times.
Loggins was reportedly a devout Christian.
Kendrec McDade, 19 (Pasadena)
On March 24, 2012, two Pasadena police officers shot and killed Kendrec McDade.
The cops said they were responding to a robbery report when they encountered the local football star and Pasadena City College student.
McDade was unarmed and had no criminal record.
Some witnesses said McDade was at the “wrong the place at the wrong time.”
A caller, who reported that a backpack and laptop were stolen at gunpoint, later confessed that the reported strong-arm robbery never occurred. He said he made up the story to get a quicker response from police.
McDade, who was in the vicinity when police arrived, allegedly ran when he was approached by the police.
The cops, then, reportedly began to pursue him.
The officers said they feared for their lives after chasing McDade into a dark alley. They claim McDade turned around and ran toward the patrol call and that he reached for a weapon in his pants.
The officers shot McDade four times.
Ezell Ford, 25 (Florence)
In January 2017, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of Ezell Ford, who was fatally shot by two LAPD police officers on Aug. 11, 2014.
Ford’s family said he had been diagnosed with depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.
The LA District Attorney’s Office did not file charges against the officers who say they approached Ford because he was acting suspicious and allegedly tried to dispense an illegal substance, according to their official report.
The officers claim they had to physically struggle with Ford before using deadly force against him, saying they feared for their lives.
Ford’s family says he was shot three times while lying on the ground.
He died two hours after the shooting at the California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Dante Parker, 36 (Victorville)
Dante Parker, the father of five children, was tasered multiple times by a deputy from the San Bernardino County’s Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 12, 2014. Prosecutors say the deputy’s actions were justified and that Parker had PCP in his system.
The deputy was reportedly responding to a call about a man who was breaking into a home.
Deputies said Parker, who was about 5 feet, two inches and weighed around 300 pounds, fit the description of the suspect.
They also claim Parker was “combative,” did not cooperate with authorities and resisted arrest.
According to reports, Parker was tasered about a dozen times while deputies scuffled with him.
Apparently, the deputies were able to handcuff him, place him in a patrol car, and administer medical aid.
After arriving at Victor Valley Global Hospital, Parker went into cardiac arrest and died. His autopsy report ruled his death accidental.
His family settled for $250,000 in June 2016.
Charley “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, 43 (Los Angeles)
Charley Keunang, a homeless Cameroonian immigrant, was shot and killed by three LAPD officers after he supposedly reached for a cop’s holstered gun during a struggle in the city’s Skid Row area on March 1, 2015.
Keunang was accused of attacking another homeless person and throwing his tent in the streets.
A bystander recorded the melee between Keunang and the officers before the shooting. Keunang was shot six times.
The shooting death attracted worldwide attention when someone posted a Facebook video of the incident.
An autopsy revealed that Keunang had methamphetamine in his system.
In 2016, the Los Angeles police commission ruled that the officers’ actions were justifiable and the use of lethal force was necessary.
The Los Angeles City Council approved $1.95 million to settle Keunang’s case. His family had originally sought $20 million from the city.
Brendon Glenn, 29 (Los Angeles)
The city of Los Angeles settled the officer-involved shooting of Brendon Glenn for $4 million in December 2016.
He was an unarmed homeless man who struggled with a Black officer on the Venice beach boardwalk before he was killed on May 5, 2015.
Two officers were responding to a call from a bar that reported a man harassing people. One of the officers said Glenn was trying to reach for his partner’s gun before he made the decision to shoot him.
The shooting was captured on video but the footage, obtained from a nearby bar’s surveillance camera, did not show Glenn’s hands near the officers’ guns at any point.
They city awarded the $4 million settlement to Glenn’s mother and his then 4-year-old son.
Mario Woods, 26 (San Francisco)
In June, the city of San Francisco announced that it will pay the mother of Mario Woods $400,000 in monetary damages.
On Dec. 2, 2015, five cops shot Woods. He was a suspect in a stabbing.
Woods was running away from the police, according to the report, when the officers shot him 21 times, some of the bullets hitting him in the back.
An autopsy found Woods had drugs in his system.
Protests of Woods' shooting, which was captured on video, led to the resignation of police chief Greg Suhr.
Alfred Olango, 38 (El Cajon)
A former refugee from Uganda, Alfred Olango suffered four wounds to the neck, chest, arm and shoulder when police officers shot him on September 27, 2016. The cops also used a stun gun to shock him twice.
Police claim Olango pulled out a vaping e-cigarette device and pointed it at them in front of a shopping center. Another officer, during the shooting, used a Taser gun, hitting Olango in the buttocks and leg.
A drug test found cocaine in Olango’s system and a small amount of alcohol in his bloodstream.
Olango’s family said he had a mental breakdown after the death of a close friend.
Prosecutors ruled that the El Cajon officer’s actions were justifiable in using deadly force to kill Olango.
Joseph Mann, 51 (Sacramento)
Joseph Mann, a mentally ill and homeless man, was shot and killed by two Sacramento Police Department officers on July 11, 2016. A video, provided by Sacramento Regional Transit and released by the Sac Police Department, graphically showed the final seconds of Mann’s life before he fell to a hail of police gunfire.
One of the police officers tried running Mann over with his cruiser before the cops fired 18 shots. At least 14 of them hit Mann.
The video shows Mann clearly running down the sidewalk. At some point, he turned to face officers in the street who began shooting immediately. The officers, who appeared to be about six or seven paces away from Mann when he fell, said he had a knife.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office backed the actions of the two police officers involved, citing that they “lawfully shot” Mann.
Diante Yarber, 26 (Barstow)
Diante Yarber was fatally shot by Barstow police officers on April 5, 2018 in a Walmart parking lot.
Police say Yarber reversed his Ford Mustang into a patrol car, and then drove forward in the direction of officers, slamming into another police car before they decided to use deadly force.
According to other reports, Yarber drove into the parking lot to pick up someone who was shopping at Walmart.
Police say they believe Yarber was the suspect in a stolen car case. Three other people were in the car with Yarber when the police fired at the vehicle. Only one of the passengers was wounded in the shooting.
Yarber’s family lawyers say he was struck by 10 bullets.
Barstow police said a total of 24 rounds were shot at the vehicle.
Prosecutors cleared officers Jimmie Alfred Walker, Jose Barrientos, Vincent Carrillo and Matthew Allen Helms of all charges in Yarber's shooting.
Walker, who is White, was charged with hate crimes and battery in separate incident in 2010.
Attorneys for Yarber’s family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit. They say their client did not receive proper medical treatment after the shooting and that he choked on his blood.
Yarber left behind three daughters.
Stephon Alonzo Clark, 22 (Sacramento)
On March 2, 2019, nearly one year after Clark was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard, Sacramento’s District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that she would not press charges against the two Sacramento Police Department officers who gunned down the unarmed 22-year-old.
The police officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, shot and killed Clark in South Sacramento on March 18, 2018. Clark was unarmed and holding a cell phone.
Seven out of about 20 bullets the policemen fired hit the former Sacramento High athlete from the back, according to an independent autopsy report conducted by the family.
The official police report says Clark, the father of two infant sons, was facing and approaching officers when they killed him.
He was a vandalism suspect.
Clark’s death sparked protests around the country and in his hometown Sacramento, which led to the shutting down of two Sacramento Kings games at Golden 1 Center.
De'Andre Mitchell, 23 (Torrance)
Christopher De'Andre Mitchell was shot and killed by a Torrance police officer on Dec. 9, 2018, after cops said he didn’t follow their orders to get out of the car.
According to Torrance police chief Eve Irvine, Mitchell reached for a gun he was holding between his legs.
Investigations later found that the weapon was an air rifle.
Mitchell was shot in a Ralph’s parking lot while sitting in 2000 Honda Civic that was reported stolen two days prior, according to the police.
Mitchell died while being treated for injuries after the officers took him out of the car about 37 minutes after the shooting.
Willie McCoy, 20 (Vallejo)
On Feb. 9, 2019, police officers, responding to a 911 call, shot Willie McCoy in his throat and chest.
McCoy, who appeared to be sleeping in his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru when the incident happened, was a rapper also known as “Willie Bo.”
Police said McCoy allegedly woke up and was reaching for a gun on his lap before they shot him.
The Vallejo Police Department has released footage captured on the body-worn cameras of six officers who engaged in using deadly force against McCoy.
In 2012, a third of Vallejo’s homicides resulted from police officer-involved shootings and the city’s police officers used deadly force 38 times the national rate that same year.
Reparations for the Original Sin of Slavery In America
Reparations for the Original Sin of Slavery In America
By Gloria Zuurveen
“We’re a nation coming apart at the seams, a nation in which each tribe has its own narrative and the narratives are generally resentment narratives. The African-American experience is somehow at the core of this fragmentation — the original sin that hardens the heart, separates Americans from one another and serves as model and fuel for other injustices,” David Brooks, Opinion Columnist for the New York Times in his piece on “The Case for Reparations”
Wednesday, June 19, a day called Juneteenth and also a time for the commemoration of Africans in America freed from enslavement in Galveston, Texas and they didn’t know it for almost three years. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the “Emancipation Proclamation” to free Blacks from the horrible stench of slavery in America but the word didn’t reached the Blacks in Galveston until nearly three years later in 1865 on June 19. Thus it is called “Juneteenth”.
On this Juneteenth in Washington, DC, a distinguished, scholarly, liturgical and professional panel convened to have a dialogue about reparations owed to million of Black Americans who are descendants of slaves. These descendants have never received reciprocity nor restitution for the original sin that Brooks says, “hardens the heart, separates Americans from one another and serves as model and fuel for other injustices.” Brooks speaks of the recipients of the sin of slavery, Black Americans today. He lays out a case for reparation coming from a young white man’s perspective. Look around and see in your community. Who are helpless and homeless more than anyone else in the streets of Los Angeles? They are Black people. Now is the acceptable time for reparations. Four hundred years of labor through death and destruction to the benefit of others using the power and brilliance of Black people taking from them inventions and their intellectual properties and their musical minds. Whites used malice motives to deprive a people, Black people, out of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a case for reparations.
On Wednesday, June 19 on Juneteenth, the panel at the hearing included author Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Danny Glover and Presidential hopeful Cory Booker with Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who took a bold and courageous step to pick up the mantel laid by former Congressman John Conyers. Conyers and the National Black United Front started this petition to U.S. Senate In January of 1989, John Conyers first introduced the bill H.R. 40, Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. He re-introduced HR 40 every Congress since 1989, and he vowed to do so until it's passed into law.
The hearing on Wednesday also included professor, author and economist, Julianne Malveaux who raised the issue of the importance of a commission on the solution through reparations. She said during the House Judiciary Committee, “There was a time in the United States where black Americans were actually closing the wealth gap with white Americans — until white Americans rioted and burned their property.” She referenced “Black Wall Street” as one such incident where Blacks progressed through ownership and enterprise. This was a common practice among Blacks to run and operate businesses in their communities. She mentioned the way whites caused the destruction of “Black Wall Street,” which was a location in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was known for its high concentration of black-owned businesses and black wealth. She said, “The governor of Oklahoma actually appointed a commission to find out why the Wall Street massacre occurred, one of the newspapers came up with this conclusion: ‘Too many n-words have too much money,'” she said.
“That was the conclusion of an official government commission.” Blacks having too much money in America was a crime when it came to Blacks having wealth through business ownership. This complicity by government officials on all levels still exist today and one can see it in the Black homelessness all across these United States of America and especially in the second largest city, Los Angeles, this for reparations must be dealt with and it must be dealt with before America self-destruct out of a moral, justice and righteous failure to act with all deliberate speed to rectify or atone for the wrongs done and for the atrocities meted out on Blacks in America for 400 years.
America will self-destruct because America’s soul is rotten at the core like a gangrene, a seething, cyst of selfishness and greed unleashed on Black people in the form of slavery has to be dealt with for righteousness and forgiveness sake and to perhaps move the masses of disenfranchised Black people into a higher level of living in all areas of life with the liberty to pursue the happiness that white Americans, then and now are experiencing. Without a “just tourniquet” of restitution ” America will die of its failure to act and to stop the infected system of racism and began to redistribute the wealth of this nation to its rightful co-owners, Blacks in America through the “righteous act of reparations”.
Why? Because Black people are still feeling the power and pain of racism like, the late great Fannie Lou Hamer, whose life was condemned to poverty while fighting against the evil of whites who claimed supreme and without the luxury of the benefits of hard labor as a sharecropper in the Mississippi Delta. This is a case for reparation, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a case for reparation after dying trying to close the gulf of injustice against Blacks in the south.
Laws on the book that metes out contrary justice is a case for reparation, the unequal and unjust education system is a case for reparation, the private industry complex and its willful intent to deprive Black men, women and children of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness due to the perpetual industrial enslavement of feeding corporate greed and needs for control of all the wealth and the land by making “A Third World America” designated “Black America” is a case for reparations with all deliberate speed. The original sin as Brooks call it must be confronted head on with no relenting or vacillating.
Brooks, who is white, speaks from observation of the unequal treatment of Blacks in America who were forced not by choice to be used as chattel slaves, white peoples personal property based on governmental laws. So even as slavery during the Lincoln’s era ended, Jim Crow raised his ugly head after reconstruction and brought terror and atrocities on Blacks like lynching, bombing, mutilating, castrating, and raping Black women and children of which no other race has had to endure on these shores of America. Reparation is due and the panel’s initial hearing was impressive in their scholarly and spiritual wisdom as well as those who were in opposition, however, I hope the hearing and conversation doesn’t become like the ritualistic annual National Urban League’s report on race with no significant changes relating to Blacks in America except to analyze and strategize with no real economics realized.
This case for reparation is always right to set the record in the light and to have an aim at what to fight and for what is right.
The aim for what is right is not something that Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in agreement with. According to his remarks about Blacks receiving reparation he said, “I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently are responsible, is a good idea. We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president. I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that. “And, I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it.
First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate...I don’t think reparations are a good idea.” McConnell’s pathetic thinking is the problem with what ails America and what continues to be a failure to deal with the original sin by admitting a wrong yet never take action to make atonement for the wrong is what perpetuates the violence Blacks continue to face in America just as they did in the life and times of McConnell as a representative from Arkansas in the 60s when Blacks were attacked with Billy Clubs, dog, spit on, lynched and in the 90s, when a Black man’s body, James Byrd, in Jasper, Texas, was decapitated and dragged to his death and lest we forget, the horrible sight of Emmitt Till who was on vacation in Money, Mississippi he was beaten and brutalized so terrible that his mother wanted to show the world the stench of Jim Crowism during McConnell’s life time.
All these events were done under the leadership of complicit state governments. McConnell’s words are sensitive and sadistic in that they are words that say “We did these bad things but they were done a long, long time ago.” The murders and mayhem by whites toward Blacks cannot be swept under a rug by saying , “Forget about it”.
Millions of slaves descendants still live and they are living with the pain of the past and because it happened, this is a case for reparations or else Blacks should take deliberate action by divesting their consumer dollars worth $1.3 trillion according to the 2018 Nielsen report and reinvesting those trillions into black enterprises until reparations for Blacks become not just a political issue but an unfinished American issue that is rooted in the original sin against descendants of slaves in America.
Groovin’ at the Obama Boulevard Naming Ceremony and Street
Groovin’ at the Obama Boulevard Naming Ceremony and Street Festival
Photo and article by Ricky Richardson
Los Angeles- Saturday, May 4, 2019 is one for the history books. A massive, multi-cultural, diverse crowd gathered on Rodeo Road where Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard intersects, for a day long music festival and President Barack Obama Naming Ceremony. Ain’t no party like a west coast party!
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson was joined by Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Matthew Lawson and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to officially unveil Obama Boulevard in honor of America’s 44th President of the United States of America. This day consisted of a free day long music and street festival. It was a pleasure to view a sea of people wearing President Obama gear-buttons, caps, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts etc. Multi-generation of family members were present for this historic occasion. People from all walks of life, races and cultures were in attendance.
Singer Randy Newman got it right when he penned the tune “I Love L.A.” The location selected for the ceremony is where Obama Boulevard will intersect with Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in one of Los Angeles’ most iconic Black neighborhoods-creating one of the most significant African-American points of interest in the country. Los Angeles City Officials gave residents and the world another reason to LOVE L.A!
This was a picture-perfect day, neither too hot nor cold, just pleasant with a slight breeze. As I sat down to write, the lyrics for “Groovin” by War sibilated throughout my mind. Sibilate, that’s a word that you don’t hear often.The gates to the celebrations opened at 12 noon. DJ QwestCoast provided the musical soundtrack for the festivities. Radio Personality Kevin Nash served as Master of Ceremony.
Katalyst Collective is a ten-piece band from Inglewood, California, who opened the show with a set of original tunes to set the tone for the rest of the day.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist Mark Noxx from Sacramento delighted the crowd during his time in the spotlight. Jai is a sensational, 14-year-old talented singer. He wowed the crowd with his vocal stylings on the classic tunes “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye and “Change is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke.
Youth who are making a difference in the community was well represented and recognized during the program. Thandie Abdullah, co-founder of The Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard, and other members of the group, spoke eloquently about the organization. Ms. Abdullah was named among Times Magazines 25 Most Influential Teens of 2018.
Michael Boyer II, aka- VERBS dropped some positive lyrics to the delight of the crowd. T-Lyons is a young rapper from New Orleans delivered and uplifting set of original tunes “We Gonna Make It,” and “Come Smile with Me.” This is additional proof of a young man making a difference in the community.
Council President Herb Wesson welcomed Dignitaries from the Local, State and Federal levels of Government onstage for remarks. Several Mayors or representatives from surrounding cities were also present. Congresswomen Karen Bass gave a powerful speech that resonated with the crowd.
Radio Personality Dominique DiPrima, 102.3 FM, RadioFree, KJLH took over as Mistress of Ceremony for the second half of the show. Gavilyn a Latin American hip hop artist rocked the proceedings with a set of original tunes. Music royalty was in the house. Alex Isley is the daughter of Ernie Isley, and the niece of the legendary group Isley Brothers. The crowd and I were vibing with her on the tunes “About Him,” “La Brea,” and “We’ll Always Have Paris.”
The next segment of the program featured an electric, energetic performances that consisted of DJ Tee holding it down of the ones and twos, followed by DJ Battlecat manning the boards for Kurupt.
YO YO came up next for a powerful performance and to showcase several young up and coming hip hip artists who are fast making a name for themselves, which was apparent in the warm welcomed they received from the audience. BJ The Chicago Kid was another highlight of the music festival.
Keisha Renee a contestant on The Voice, showcased her country/soulful vocal styling on tune original songs “I Hope You dance and “Let’s Get Away,” from her latest EP The Road Less Travelled.
Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop COGIC recited the Invocation and Blessing of Obama Boulevard, onstage alongside Council President Herb Wesson and his wife Fabian and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The Spotlight shifted over to a smaller platform for the unveiling of the Obama Boulevard sign. “The renaming of Rodeo Boulevard to Obama Boulevard represents a truly historic day for our city and country” Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, said in a statement. He went on to state, “With this change, we are publicly documenting what Obama’s legacy as our nation’s first black President means to our city and our South Los Angeles community. For every child who will drive down this street and see the President’s name, this will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “In this moment of political tumult on the national level, it’s important to take stock of the tremendous accomplishment that Barack Obama’s presidency.” “His ascent to our nation’s office represents, in some ways, the fulfillment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, spoken about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial more than 55 years ago.”
Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Matthew Lawson read a letter from President Barack Obama expressing his heartfelt appreciations thanks to the City of Los Angeles for this wonderful naming occasion.
Council President Herb Wesson, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Matthew Lawson participated in the President Barack Obama sign unveiling.
The focus reverted over to the Main Stage as Sheila E graced the stage to perform a classic hit, “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time.”
Beat Box King Doug E. Fresh aided by Chill Will and Barry Bon the ones and twos closed out this amazing, magnificent and historic event on a rousing note.
Stevie Wonder appeared on stage just when we thought that the show was over. He was greeted by a thunderous round of applause.
Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Boulevard, a 3.5 miles stretch of road that runs from “Hearth of Screenland” better known as Culver City, to Mid-City Los Angeles, passing by the legendary Dorsey High School and communities of Baldwin Hills and Rancho Cienega Sports Center and Park-2007 site of a rally for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama near the beginning of his historic presidential campaign.
With the addition of Barack Obama Boulevard in America’s second largest city, President’s Row is officially established in Los Angeles including nearby George Washington Boulevard, Adams Boulevard and Thomas Jefferson Boulevard. Approximately 100 street signs will be replaced with the new Obama Boulevard sign.
The unveiling ceremony was organized through a partnership between Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson—who introduced and carried the legislation to rename Rodeo Boulevard to Obama Boulevard, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Urban League which is currently led by longtime Obama supporter Michael Lawson (President and CEO), Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Congresswomen Karen Bass.
The event was produced by Bridge Street, which recently produced the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Mountaintop Speech in Memphis.
Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) Honors Black Businesses at Black History Awards Celebration
Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) Honors Black Businesses at Black History Awards Celebration
By Gloria Zuurveen
LOS ANGELES-It was an honor on Tuesday, February 12 at 8:30 am to be among greatness at the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation Black History Awards Celebration at the Foundation Center LA located at 11633 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles CA 90047.
I was among the best in their field of businesses from Mr. Leo, President/CEO of Leo Sullivan Multimedia, Inc., a producer and director of educational films, training films, and public service films for various educational film companies with national distribution. Mr. Sullivan has managed animation studios across the globe overseeing all phases of production on animated television shows and theatricals for studios in Thailand, Spain, France, Canada, and the United States, to name a few. Having worked in multiple studios such as Warner Brothers, Filmation, New World, Hanna Barbera, Walt Disney Studios, Richard Williams, and more, Mr. Sullivan decided to give back to the community by forming a 501c3 tax exempt organization called Leon Sullivan Multimedia Foundation that offer a hands-on introductory workshop in animation and game development to disadvantaged youth between the ages of 10 and 15. I was so impressed with his history, Black History, which also include him being one of the animators of the original Soul Train, Scooby Doo and Fat Albert Team. Before all of us were introduced to the audience who were feasting on the fresh made on-the-spot omelets from Watts Coffee House, Owner, Desiree E. Edwards, caterer for the special ceremony. The Foundation Center LA banquet halls allow for independent catering service as well as free parking accommodation for all guests. The parking lot was full. It was full because VSEDC corporation with sponsorship from Boston Private, Watts Coffee House and a passionate, gentle giant of a woman who is the smiling face of Simply Wholesome on Overhill and Slauson. Ms. Apryl Sims spoke from the heart about her legacy of Black history in Los Angeles as a fourth generation entrepreneur with 42 years of Marketing, sales, and management expertise. Ms. Sims followed in her father’s footsteps as she had the opportunity to have worked with him and for him the last nine years of his life. Her history is the construction of the former Which Stand to the Simply Wholesome we see today. I do recall eating at the Wich Stand with the 20 Grand Club next door where La Louisiana restaurant is today.
It was Ms. Sims family company 333 Construction that physically transformed the Wich Stand into what is now Simply Wholesome. Entrepreneurship runs in Ms. Sims’ DNA as she is now the proud owner of Specialty Raw Unpasteurized Cold Pressed Juice line called “April’s Life In A Bottle.”
Her creative juices were flowing during the ceremony as she moderated with such truth to power words of encouragement and with great compassion as she made everyone feel right at home with her warmth.
Mr. Ron Turner, with more than 25 years of exceptional experience at both large conglomerated stations and independently owned outlets, were dressed impeccable as one can see in the picture with this article. The way he handles business at the famous 102.3 KJLH Radio (Taxi Productions) station where he serves as General Sales Manager and leads a team of 13 talented individuals who surpass budget by creating sound solutions that uniquely connect businesses to the station’s listening audiences. It has worked so well that he is a major force on the team that created Southern California’s Largest African American targeted event, The Taste of Soul. Mr. Turner has not come so far in business that he fails to look back. No. Mr. Turner, as an advisory board member of the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute, “Black Men Reaching Back”. He is also a active member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
As I mentioned, I was so honored to be in the company of greatness and this Black History Celebration presented by VSEDC is one to mark your calendar for because it’s leader Mr. Joseph Rouzan III, President/CEO has brought a spirit of entrepreneurship to uplift not just Black businesses but all who are in need of help with their decision to become an entrepreneurs and who otherwise would have no voice of economic empowerment.
He has reached out and collaborated with those who will continue the legacy to make its founder, Marva Smith Battle-Bey very proud of his leadership. The audience was also a testament to the great work he is doing at VSEDC along with his committed staff of professionals.
It is the professionalism in helping entrepreneurs rise above the fear stage of going on their own to be independent contractors, getting the necessary licenses, permits, collaboration with the City of Los Angeles and other municipalities to streamline the process to success.
Success is what the intent of VSEDC is all about since it was established in 1979 as Citizen Advisory committee by Mayor Tom Bradley in response to the South LA community’s concern regarding the closing of a Sears Department Store, the organization began operation in 1981.
Success breeds success and that is why in the past four years, VSEDC has served over 1100 clients, launched 126 new businesses, provided 82 small business loans totaling 15.8 million dollars and equally as important, created and retained 677 jobs. That is a history of success and that is why Jeanette Bolden, the owner of the historical 27th street Bakery in Los Angeles, a Family-Owned bakery serving the community since 1956, did not hesitate to accept the award as an honor during the VSEDC Black History Awards Celebration. She has a long history of Black business ownership.
It is deep in her family. I know the 27th Street Bakery sweet potato pie because it is one of my favorites and my daughter feels let down if I don’t get her one when she is in town during the holidays. I pick them up at Ralphs. Ms. Bolden said because of changes in how people shop they have had to change their distribution channels to expand and now they are in many supermarkets and restaurants. Bolden, who was born with asthma, has been the Executive Director and Coordinator of the Jeanette Bolden Asthma and Allergy Track Clinic as well as a former Board Member of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. A baker and a coach who jumped over obstacles that comes with one being asthmatic and she has made them tools of success. What Ms. Bolden has done with her many years of diligence, hard work and excellence has proven to be award worthy as she has earned elite status as both a coach at her alma mater, UCLA, where from 2014—2017, she served as Women’s Track and Field Head Coach at the University of Central Florida State.
She is a U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association Hall of Famer, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and U.S. Olympic Women’s Head Coach. With a 24-year Collegiate Women’s Track & Field Head Coaching tenure, she has earned three NCAA Team Championships .
It was an awesome occasion and as a recipient, I am truly honored by the works of VSEDC who have been instrumental in the many years of PACE NEWS. We’ve benefited collaboratively as an award-winning newspaper of nearly 25 years. As a native Mississippian and a crusade for justice in the spirit of Ms. Ida B. Wells who then fought against the lynching of Black people, so too I today, continue to fight against injustices and especially, when it comes to Black people in all area and especially Black businesses. So, it in that vain that I received the Black Business Award from VSEDC.
VSEDC’s mission has remained the same which is to continue to make an impact in the small business community in South Los Angeles by providing free entrepreneurial training, technical assistance and access to capital through the VSEDC Business Source Center. Serving the South Region of Los Angeles and providing a suite of no-cost business services that help business start, operate and expand in Los Angeles.
For more information, please call:(323) 789-4515.or email:BEC@VSEDC.org.