ARC Condemns Anti-AAPI Hate and Violence

These images are from a public art project in New York City entitled “I Still Believe in Our City” by artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. Learn more about the project here.


Written by Will Hoadley-Brill

The Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena strongly condemns and is greatly disgusted and disappointed by the rising anti-AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) hate and violence that has dramatically increased since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, and has become tragically salient after a series of eight killings in the Atlanta, Georgia area last night. Six of those killed were of Asian American descent and seven were women. Although motivations of the killer have yet to be made public, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has stated, “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian. We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”

Mayor Bottoms highlights a critical aspect of this horrific hate crime: it is one example of a growing trend of racially motivated attacks and killings of AAPI people in the past year and in the history of the United States. According to Anne Anlin Cheng, professor at Princeton University, “Stop AAPI Hate [an AAPI advocacy organization] received 2,800 reports [of harassment against AAPI Americans] in 2020, around 240 of which were physical assaults, and the AAPI Emergency Response Network has received over 3,000 reports since it started tracking Covid-specific hate incidents last year.” 

Many of these incidents have occurred in the state of California, including several in the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year in the Bay Area. These attacks have targeted a diversity of members from the AAPI community, but some specific groups have experienced higher rates of violence than others. Many of the attacks have targeted older members of the AAPI community, one of which led to the death of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco. AAPI women have also experienced this violence disproportionately, as they constitute the victims of more than two-thirds of the reported attacks. It is worth noting that, like with many violence reporting systems, the numbers reflected by the organizations collecting this data are likely lower than the actual number of racial harassment and violence against the AAPI community as many who experience this kind of trauma do not feel comfortable reporting. 

It is critical to understand that this violence is a result of a long history of anti-AAPI sentiment in the United States in addition to the hatred that was stoked by the former president who referred to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu” which made inappropriate, inaccurate, and racist associations between the pandemic and China. As a historical example, in the 1800s, many elites in the Boston area increased their wealth, which was already exponentially higher than racial minorities due to the ability to amass wealth through slavery, through the sales of Opium to China. The introduction of Opium to China was a British invention that created a dependency among the population and intentionally weakened their society to make a military triumph more feasible.  

We do not need to look, however, to the East Coast to find historical incidents of AAPI hatred, exploitation, nor violence. In 1871, at least 17 Chinese Americans were lynched in Los Angeles in an incident of mob violence which included 10% of the city’s non-AAPI population as perpetrators. The deaths constituted about 10% of the Chinese American population in Los Angeles at that time. Although indictments were presented, none of the defendants were punished for this violence. This massacre did not result in a wave of support and acceptance, but rather made anti-AAPI rhetoric and violence acceptable in the public sphere. LA area media continued to denounce Asian immigration in the decades after this massacre. Today, this piece of LA history is buried and forgotten. 

On a national scale, the Federal Government prevented the immigration of Chinese individuals (and, really, almost all Asian immigrants) with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which was later fortified in the 1924 Immigration Act. This explicit exclusion was not repealed through policy by Congress until 1943. The 1943 repeal would not end discrimination against the AAPI community in the US, however, as about 120,000 Japanese Americans would remain incarcerated throughout the American West until 1946

These historical occurrences of anti-AAPI hatred, discrimination, and violence demonstrate that the rising wave of hate crimes against this population is related to the project of historical reconciliation with which we must all engage, even in South Pasadena. Phung Huynh, ARC member, artist, and educator, has been on the receiving end of this hate which is fueled and furthered by historical factors:

When I learned about the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan last year, my heart sank because I knew I had to brace myself for something catastrophic that was about to happen, anti-Asian racism and hate. The cruel, racist rhetoric of the last president during a pandemic further unleashed an exponential rise in hate crimes against Asians, and in places like New York, the rate of increase is over 1000%. As a Vietnamese refugee, I was conditioned to be grateful for resettlement and to keep my head down. I won’t keep my head down. I won’t let my mentor down, a Black artist, activist, and Vietnam War vet from Brooklyn who saw the crippling effects of Jim Crow and lovingly empowered me to use my voice. I will use my voice here in South Pasadena, where I was called a gook (1) last year while crossing the street to pick up my son from afterschool care. I will use my voice to honor the Asian women who were brutally killed in Georgia yesterday and the family and friends who are grieving them. I will use my voice while I link hands with my fellow ARC, BLM, and Care First community members, and we will amplify our collective voice to support and protect our Asian American Pacific Islander siblings. We will never be silenced. 

(1) Gook is a racial slur often used against individuals of Filipino, Korean, or Vietnamese decent. The word is included here in order to tell a story accurately and capture an incident of hate. Please do not use this word in reference to individuals of Asian descent.

We must listen to Phung’s call to action and understand that hatred is an issue that we must all fight against. We can not tolerate it when it is noticed, regardless of context. Learn, educate, advocate, and support our AAPI community members. We must show that South Pasadena is a safe, welcoming, inclusive place for everyone. 

Educate 

Listen to Self Evident: Asian America’s Stories

Read Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White

Read Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Watch “We Are Not a Stereotype” a video series by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center    

Take the training “Bystander Intervention Training to Stop Anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment” from Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Hollaback

Advocate

Donate to Stop AAPI Hate

Donate to Oakland Chinatown Victims’ Fund

Donate to Asian Americans Advancing Justice 

Report

Report an incident of AAPI-hate based harassment or violence here: https://stopaapihate.org/


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

Racism-fueled Responses to Anti-Racist Yard Signs

Written by Phung Huynh

Since the summer of 2020, the Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena has brought together residents who are committed to uncovering and disabling systemic racism in our city. We have mobilized and now continue to work in collaboration with community groups with shared values, including Black Lives Matter South Pasadena and Care First in strategic actions that address inequities in policing, public safety, education, and community care. Recently, the Anti-racism Committee embarked on a lawn sign project that made clear to our city that we actively stand against racism. ARC members added words and expressions to pre-made lawn signs that reinforced our anti-racist position and began to display them on inauguration day. Many of these lawn signs are still up with powerful words that complete the prompt, “I stand against racism because…”

It poisons our community and must be uprooted.

Protecting whiteness kills people.

We are a multi-race, multi-ethnic, multi-faith family.

South Pasadena was a sundown town.

Trump was the symptom, not the disease. The fight against white supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism, and the modern-day slavery of the prison industrial complex is NOT OVER.

[More examples of the lawn signs can be seen on: https://arcsouthpasadena.org/i-stand-agains-racism-because/]

Recently, some of our members have seen a backlash to the ARC lawn sign project. Someone wrote on the sidewalk in front of one member’s house, “#Beijing Biden.” Another ARC member shared that “[s]omeone has repeatedly left litter, including dog droppings, a used mask, bottle caps, and a toilet seat cover in front of my sign. We remove these items and other litter reappears, usually early in the morning.  Is anyone else having this experience… I’ve noticed bottle caps and debris around a neighbor’s BLM sign on the median.  My goal was to leave the sign up through Black History Month.” This member’s lawn sign read, “I stand against racism because I did not learn to hate in Sunday School.”

How do we respond to such vile actions when our purpose is to foster an inclusive and safe community for all residents through an anti-racist lens? Informing the police is not necessarily the solution because being pro-police and calling out racism do not go hand-in-hand. Our city is not immune to the toxic repercussions of racism, and the decision to display these lawn signs on January 20 was intentional and brave. The last presidential administration dangerously gave agency to white nationalism and white supremacy that resulted in a surge in hate crimes, anti-immigrant policies, and marginalization of BIPOC communities. To turn a blind eye or deny that racism exists is irresponsible and detrimental. We saw the dire consequences play out on January 6, when our Capitol was stormed by emboldened white nationalists who staged an insurrection that threatened our lawmakers and the peaceful transition of power. We also saw pro-Trump supporters take over our corner on Fair Oaks and Mission on November 1 and assaulted some of our social justice activist youth.

Racism is the root cause of inequity that we face in our larger society and in our immediate community. Racism allows discrimination and hate to fester and infiltrate the most essential means from housing, fair wages, education, and public safety. It is critical that we continue our work, but this is brave work. We run the risk of being harassed, threatened, and become recipients of the most egregious acts. It is during these times that I call on you to remember the most honorable, John Lewis, and remember the “good trouble” we have to make.


Hate Crimes Reporting

PROVIDER: 211 LA COUNTY 211 LA County provides hate crimes reporting for people of all ages in Los Angeles County. Specialized services include the Anti Hate Reporting Hotline for the County of Los Angeles. There are no geographic restrictions.

The Anti Hate Reporting Hotline takes reports (by phone or online) of hate crimes, hate acts, and incidents of bullying which have occurred within Los Angeles County; regardless of whether or not a crime has been committed.

Community Resource Advisors collect reports regarding hate crimes, hate incidents, and bias motivated behavior. By filing a report as a victim, witness, or advocate for a victim of hate crimes, hate acts, or bullying, reporters will be referred to resources in their local community and have the option to receive personalized follow up from a 211 care coordinator. Reported information can be submitted anonymously and will help identify areas in need of resources such as education and crime prevention. For those that prefer to report online, an online reporting form is available at https://211la.org/la-vs-hate APPLICATION PROCEDURE Call or visit the agency’s website for service FEES/PAYMENT SOURCE There are no fees for services.


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

The Ongoing Impact of the 710 Freeway Extension

(SOURCE: KTLA)

Written by Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson

On Thanksgiving, while many of us gave thanks for the roofs over our heads and our health in a time of crisis, state police forcefully arrested and tossed 62 people out on the streets. On the nights of November 25th and 26th, a coalition of houseless families with the local organization Reclaim and Rebuild Our Community occupied several vacant houses in El Sereno out of desperate need for shelter. California Highway Patrol officers used riot gear and flash bangs to forcefully remove and arrest dozens of houseless people and the protesters who mobilized to protect them from eviction in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Pandemic or otherwise, housing is a human right. Housing is listed as a basic right and fundamental freedom of all human beings in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and enshrined in several international laws since. However, the current conditions further unmask the urgent necessity of adequate shelter. With California’s second shelter-in-place order cresting the horizon, tens of thousands of people find themselves with no home.

This year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported a 12.7% rise in the houseless population, rising to upwards of 66,400 people in the county. Nearly 1,000 houseless people have died on the streets of Los Angeles this year alone.  As is the case with the disparate impacts of the wider pandemic, Black and Brown houseless people are dying disproportionately. Of the 959 deaths, 26% were Black and 36% were Latinx. California’s attempts to assist houseless people with temporary hotel rooms for quarantine have clearly not gone far enough. This is an unacceptable violation of human rights, plainly a product of classism and racism. 

A single preventable death is one death too many, but what makes this situation especially egregious is the fact that the number of vacant homes in Los Angeles far exceeds the houseless population. According to a joint report from the nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, grassroots organization Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and the UCLA School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic, “more than 93,000 housing units were vacant in Los Angeles in 2017.” Nearly 100,000 homes sit empty, while 66,400 people are denied the right to shelter during a pandemic, putting their lives and the lives of those around them in imminent danger. 

The vacant El Sereno homes are owned by the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans. Decades ago, Caltrans used taxpayer money to purchase these homes in order to pave the way for the 710 freeway extension. More than 160 of these homes have remained empty since, and the plans to connect the 710 freeway in Alhambra to the 210 in Pasadena were permanently halted in 2018.

If you’re a South Pasadenan like me, I’m sure this is beginning to sound very familiar. Yes, in fact, this is the same freeway development that members of our community tirelessly fought against for decades. Many consider killing the 710 freeway extension a massive victory for South Pasadena and the preservation of our town and our historic homes. South Pasadena has a well-documented vested interest in the outcome of this 710 project and how it would have affected our community. Though the freeway extension is officially cancelled, the aftermath of this issue continues to actively affect our most vulnerable neighbors by authorizing the state to violently displace them from vacant homes and deny them the human right to shelter. We must be just as diligent in the fight to protect our houseless neighbors as we were in the fight against the 710.

Here are some actions you can take to help the evicted families and community members organizing to protect them.

Donate to the evicted houseless families here: https://gf.me/u/Y985MA

Sign Reclaim and Rebuild our Community’s petition here: https://bit.ly/33WN063

Call and email your public officials and hold them accountable. Find contacts, talking points, and additional information on this instagram post: https://bit.ly/2Ivsgeg

Find out More about Reclaim and Rebuild our Community and visit their social media pages at https://linktr.ee/rroc

Thank you to RROC for compiling much of the information and resources included in this article.


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

Semi-Permeable Borders: A Hindrance to Change and Solidarity

(SOURCE: The East Sider LA)

Written by Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson

There is a wall in South Pasadena. It sits, short and innocuous, between our city and El Sereno—a predominantly Latino neighborhood just to our north. This wall blocks off traffic from our neighboring community with a half-block of green “mini-park” space on South Pasadena’s side of the barrier. Via Del Rey, which used to be a through street, ends at the park. This wall caused controversy when it was constructed in the mid 1970s, and again when it was lowered and refurbished in 2002. Among the residents packed into the city council chambers, few spoke up against the wall, one resident calling it a “symbol of divided communities,” but the overwhelming majority were in support of keeping the wall. Today, understated and seemingly forgotten, this wall represents a larger issue in South Pasadena.

Our borders are semi-permeable. We South Pasadenans are free to go out and enjoy our proximity to Los Angeles, benefitting from the culture, art, and entertainment of the surrounding city. Our teens ride the metro to Chinatown and beyond for a fun night out. We pop into the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood of Highland Park for tapas and Donut Friend. We head to Pershing Square in droves for marches and protests organized by Black activists, proudly representing the city of Los Angeles. However, this freedom of movement, this dual membership in our suburb and our metropolis, does not go both ways. 

As a town, we claim our LA membership, while keeping LA out. Well-meaning liberal residents take pride in our reputation as a small, progressive suburb, part of Los Angeles’ perceived culture of activism and tolerance. Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, South Pasadena City Council unanimously passed a Resolution of Diversity, wholeheartedly declaring that we value the experiences of all our neighbors, “native and immigrant.” This clear pushback against Trump’s inflammatory “Build the Wall” rhetoric along the campaign trail warmed the hearts and soothed the consciences of many a South Pasadenan. But we still built our own wall between our community and our neighbors. 

At times, the effects of this semi-permeable border go beyond exclusion, causing active harm at the expense of our neighbors. Just two weeks ago at their November 18th meeting, the City Council heard overwhelming opposition to the construction of a private street and luxury housing developments off of Lowell Drive, a street in El Sereno. This land sits on the border of South Pasadena, directly affecting our neighbors, and any construction passes the buck of noise pollution, contaminates, and traffic to the residents of Lowell Drive. I could not come up with a more fitting illustration of our semi-permeable borders even if I tried: it is a luxury development, emblematic of privilege and inaccessible to our low-income neighbors, with a private road, a pathway into our town that is literally not traversable to outsiders. 

This is part of the problem. This is South Pasadena, clinging to our privilege, while still taking a piece of the pie. South Pasadena, unanimously passing toothless anti-discrimination resolutions while still reproducing imbalanced power dynamics through policy. It’s NIMBY-ism* and keeping our neighbors out. It perpetuates disconnectedness and insularity in a time when lending a hand to our neighbors has never been more crucial. 

It was only through the rapid mobilization of both communities, South Pasadena and our neighbors to the north, that over 200 public comments were submitted opposing the luxury development and private road. City council voted to postpone the discussion of the development until December 16th, heeding the advice of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis. 

This incident demonstrates with elegant simplicity the power of connecting with our neighbors. South Pasadena’s semi-permeable border is a hindrance to organizing for change. How much more could we achieve, beyond surface measures and incrementalist reforms, if we refused to go at it alone? If we refused to fall for the arbitrary borders dividing us from our neighbors?

For generations, Black and brown activists across Los Angeles have been shouldering the work of forging those regional coalitions, borders be damned. Alliances like LA’s Black Congress in the late 1960s and BLM Los Angeles today arose out of necessity, communities banding together for survival. It is time for South Pasadena to step up to the plate; we must refuse to be a weak link in Los Angeles’ fight against systemic racism. The onus is on us to cultivate relationships with our neighbors. We need border-free alliances to lend aid and ask for aid in a mutually beneficial relationship, to fight against luxury projects that harm our neighbors, and to kick down the barriers that divide us from them in the first place.

*Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) – Residents’ opposition to the development of hazardous or unpleasant projects in their region, or “back yard,” while having no such objection to developing those projects in other people’s back yards. This dynamic foists the burdens and risks of developments on other communities deemed less deserving of protection, or kills necessary projects completely because of perceived hazards. 


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

City Launches Independent Investigation into Police Misconduct Complaints

(SOURCE: South Pasadena Review)

Written by Will Hoadley-Brill

At the South Pasadena City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 18, the interim City Manager Sean Joyce announced that the city would employ an “experienced independent outside investigator” “upon receipt of several…written complaints that [he] received Monday evening.” The full council meeting can be watched here and the comment from City Manager Joyce begins at minute 51:55. According to Joyce’s comment to the Council, the independent investigator, who was not named during the Council meeting, would “immediately begin objective investigation of each of those complaints.” 

This comes after the South Pasadena community members made a public comment calling for an independent investigation of the South Pasadena Police Department and several recorded public comments urging the same action were played at the City Council meeting. The written and reported comments cited several events regarding concerning action by the SPPD including the assaults against Black Lives Matter protesters in July, the assault of a protester on the day of the Vanessa Marquez 2nd Anniversary & Community March, the police action when a South Pasadena resident driving his truck onto the sidewalk on the corner of Fair Oaks and Mission to confront Black Lives Matter protesters, the invitation and publicity of a hate group prayer event on city property, and the lack of action when a minor was assaulted at a pro-Trump protest on November 1

City Manager Joyce explained that “the findings of the respective investigations will be made public” once they have been completed; however, “no further comments can be made pending the outcome of those pending investigations.” He made it clear that he would be available to Council Members throughout the investigation and that he has “great confidence in the investigator.” He insisted, “we are taking all complaints seriously.”

He concluded his comment by briefly addressing the status of the investigations of the incidents that the public comments cited as evidence of police misconduct to the extent that he is permitted, explaining that he was not able to comment on the status or details of ongoing investigations. 


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

Community Calling for Independent Investigation of SPPD

(SOURCE: Tiger Newspaper)

November 18, 2020

Sent via email: Please read this comment aloud at the City Council meeting on November 18, 2020

Dear Mayor Joe and Councilmembers: 

The signatories of this letter are writing today to express our deep concern for the pattern of behavior that has been observed of the South Pasadena Police Department in response to intolerant, violent, and egregious acts toward community members advocating for Black lives and other causes that question our city government’s relationships with citizens belonging to marginalized communities. We are demanding that the City Council enlist an unbiased third party to launch a formal investigation into allegations of bias present in the city’s Police Department. This is the second request of a similar nature, the first of which was submitted on October 2, 2020 by Care First South Pasadena with 21 other local organizations as signatories. 

This demand is being restated after yet more inaction in response to a protest instigated by mostly non-community members that escalated to violence. On Sunday, November 1, a crowd of roughly 350 people wielding Trump/Pence flags, hats, and maskless faces gathered on the corner of Fair Oaks and Mission. The gathering, in violation of several COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by federal, state, and local officials, was accompanied by a table selling merchandise for which there was no permit issued.

South Pasadena has heralded itself as a town of diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance, so in response to these individuals (most of whom were not members of the South Pasadena community) many members of the community came together to demonstrate their denouncement of the hatred, bigotry, and authoritarianism for which the crowd was demonstrating their support. In response, the pro-Trump crowd employed insults, xenophobic rhetoric, and physical violence against members of our community. 

A 16-year-old was assaulted by the pro-Trump protesters. According to her testimony, the violence was instigated by the individuals illegally selling merchandise on the public sidewalk. The disgusting and horrific act of violence was met by inaction on the part of the South Pasadena police officers present. This inaction is documented by the first person accounts of several counter protesters who were present. Police officers were present at the scene of the assault and saw the escalation of events, and at no point did they step in to deescalate the situation. In fact, police officers were seen helping guide traffic around the pro-Trump protesters and giving high fives to protesters. If the police were there to facilitate a peaceful environment for protest, why was there no intervention when violence broke out? 

This incident, as concerning as it is in its own right, is a pattern of behavior by the South Pasadena Police Department. There have been several incidents at which the Police Department has been present and has not taken action against perpetrators of violence or incidents in which the police have been the perpetrators of bigotry themselves:

  • The assaults (plural!) of Black Lives Matter protesters Fahren James and Victoria Patterson in July of this year
  • The assault of a protester by a couple which resulted in destruction of property and physical harm
  • The threatening and illegal action of driving onto the curb at Fair Oaks and Mission to instigate debate with Black Lives Matter protesters
  • The police sponsored publicity of a prayer event on city property held by a white supremecist, anti-LGBTQIA+ group 

This repeated inaction, delay of action, and lack of genuine, complete, transparent responses to justify said inaction warrants the need for a third party, unbiased investigation into the operations of the South Pasadena Police Department. The signatories of this letter demand this action by the City Council so that we can actualize a police department that properly protects all of the residents of this city. 

Sources:

Ben Tansey & Eric Fabbro, “Trump Rally Goers Pay a Visit to South Pasadena | Assault Charges Follow.” The South Pasadenan, November 2, 2020. https://southpasadenan.com/trump-rally-goers-pay-a-visit-to-south-pasadena-assault-charges-follow/

“Resolution of Diversity: South Pasadena City Resolution No. 7491,” City of South Pasadena, December 21, 2016. https://www.southpasadenaca.gov/government/departments/city-clerk/resolution-of-diversity

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, “Teenager says Trump supporter assaulted her in South Pasadena.” Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2020. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-06/girl-and-trump-supporters-press-charges-against-each-other

Tansey & Fabbro; Ava Dunville, “Letter to the Editor | ‘Concerns About City Response to Trump Rally,’” The South Pasadenan, November 3, 2020. https://southpasadenan.com/letter-to-the-editor-concerns-about-city-response-to-trump-rally/ 

Victoria Patterson, “Letter to the Editor | ‘I Speak as an Ally,’” The South Pasadenan, August 17, 2020. 

 “Arrest Made in Attack on Protester on Sunday,” The South Pasadenan, August 31, 2020. https://southpasadenan.com/arrest-made-in-attack-on-protester-on-sunday/

Eric Fabbro, “Man Drives Truck onto Sidewalk ‘Dangerously Close’ to Black Lives Matter Protestors & Starbucks Customers on Fair Oaks,” The South Pasadenan, October 9, 2020. https://southpasadenan.com/man-drives-truck-onto-sidewalk-dangerously-close-to-black-lives-matter-protestors-starbucks-customers/

 Ben Tansey, “Police Chief Ortiz Takes More Heat Over Cancelled Prayer Event,” The South Pasadenan, October 8, 2020. https://southpasadenan.com/police-chief-ortiz-takes-more-heat-over-prayer-event/

Will Hoadley-Brill, “The Unintended Harm of Chief Ortiz’s ‘Error in Judgement,’” Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena, September 26, 2020. https://arcsouthpasadena.org/2020/09/26/the-unintended-harm-of-chief-ortizs-error-in-judgment/

Signed, 

  1. Will Hoadley-Brill 
  2. Victoria Patterson 
  3. Gretchen Schulz 
  4. Caitlin Lainoff
  5. Aliza Rood
  6. Phung Huynh
  7. David Beadle
  8. Nichole Dunville
  9. Chris Smith
  10. Jacinta Lincke
  11. Linda Krausen
  12. Julia Moreno Perri
  13. Minerva Garcia 
  14. Becky Rios
  15. Stefani Williams 
  16. Ava Dunville
  17. Noah Kuhn 
  18. Ava Feldman
  19. Ellis Cho
  20. Ayaka Nakaji
  21. Atticus Blatt
  22. Finlay Allardice 
  23. Sadie Metcalfe
  24. Travis Dunville
  25. Melissa Payne
  26. Alex Payne
  27. William Payne
  28. Coleen Santos
  29. Dominic Frescura
  30. Laura Parada
  31. Ryan McWilliams 
  32. Ian Marshall
  33. Jan Marshall
  34. Richard Marshall
  35. Dan Parada 
  36. Krissy Parada 
  37. Ella Hushagen
  38. Janelle Li
  39. Jacqueline Li
  40. Gabrielle Beauvais 
  41. Hector Ornelas 
  42. Charlotte Cohen
  43. Amy Betts 
  44. Ken Betts
  45. Charlie Betts 
  46. Jillian Goldstein 
  47. Brenda Blatt
  48. Deborah English
  49. Danielle Ashton 
  50. Jade Gomez
  51. Ruby Mullen 
  52. Robin Becker
  53. Chris Becker
  54. Jeremy Becker 
  55. Alexandra Ramirez
  56. Jennifer Parker-Stanton
  57. Sanders Stanton
  58. Robert Parker 
  59. Richard LaBrie
  60. Carol LaBrie
  61. Logan Bishop
  62. Mitch Loflin 
  63. David Melford
  64. Audrey Biggar
  65. Fahren James
  66. London Lang
  67. Helga Kuhn
  68. Elana Mann
  69. Veronica Carrizales
  70. Anne Bagasao
  71. Grace Dennis
  72. Thom Rivera
  73. Johnavaolos Rios
  74. Tony Butka 
  75. Dr. Paula Bagasao-Butka 
  76. Ciena Valenzuela-Petersen 
  77. Oliver Wang
  78. Karin Saric
  79. Bella Evans
  80. Rose McCullough
  81. Anna McCurdy
  82. Steve Zikman
  83. Jacqueline Heinze 
  84. Carly Curiel
  85. Kamren Curiel
  86. Josh Bernal
  87. Priscilla Curiel 
  88. Rachael Noji
  89. Shawna Noji
  90. Linik Noji
  91. Calvin Noji
  92. Max Yueh
  93. Leo Barrera
  94. Danzy Senna 
  95. Percival Everett
  96. Fanny Howe
  97. Marjorie Menza
  98. Chris Patterson
  99. Ry Patterson
  100. Cole Patterson
  101. Esteban Vara
  102. James Tulin
  103. Max Garcia 
  104. Holly Cardone
  105. Trudy Penland
  106. David D’Andrade 
  107. Drew Tager
  108. Care First South Pasadena
  109. Robyn Nedelcu
  110. Anthony LeBeau
  111. Melinda LaBrie
  112. Jonathan Oyaga
  113. William Kelly 
  114. Lauren Flemming
  115. Vanessa Flores
  116. Silvia Flores
  117. David Flores
  118. Francisco Flores
  119. Alise Gutierrez
  120. Robert Kelly
  121. Kelley Foster
  122. Owen Ellickson 
  123. Caroline Quinn
  124. Pocha Pena
  125. James DeSimone
  126. Amy Davis Jones
  127. Chris Vasquez
  128. Hailey Bugg
  129. Aaron Salines
  130. Joseph Haynes
  131. Ben Carlton
  132. Shauna Williams
  133. James Decker
  134. Bob Davis
  135. Tommy Works
  136. Olivia Kim
  137. Jim DiSimone Esq. 
  138. Jessica Bradford 
  139. Ixchel Carrizales De Lara
  140. Jayden Kemanian
  141. Jackson Baughm
  142. Jung Hee Choi 
  143. John Kim
  144. Joey Williams
  145. Anh Hoang
  146. Juan De Lara

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

Press Release: Press Conference Regarding Proud Boy Supporter who Jumped Curb Driving through Sidewalk where Black Lives Matter Protestors Were Setting Up

(SOURCE: South Pasadena Police Department Youtube Video)

October 15, 2020

On Saturday, October 3, 2020 at approximately 1:40 pm, a white male South Pasadena  resident, Richard Cheney drove his Ram 1800 truck across opposing traffic and onto the  sidewalk on the southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Mission. His dangerous maneuver crossed  three lanes of opposing traffic, with his vehicle coming to rest, just short of a foot away from  the metal barrier in front of Starbucks, nearly hitting Black Lives Matter protestors. Fortunately,  the protestors and nearby pedestrians were not hurt. Cheney was also heard yelling from his  open window, “So, you’re gonna keep putting those signs up?” Police were called by several  witness. The watch commander who never came to the scene and the supervisor on duty who  arrived after witnesses were interviewed, both came to the conclusion that they would not  arrest or cite Cheney without providing any logical explanation or report number. Despite  eyewitness accounts and videos documenting what happened, no arrests were made, and no  citations were given. The South Pasadena Police Department has since issued a statement on  October 3, 2020 that “[t]he case will be presented to the District Attorney for filing  considerations.” No police report has been made available as of 10/15/20. 

Concerned residents and community members of South Pasadena condemn this violent  and dangerous act. There has been repeated inaction and lack of accountability of the South  Pasadena Police Department to protect and serve the community, particularly for marginalized  community members that include Black and Latinx residents. During a time when protesters  rightfully exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assembly to support  Black lives, across the country we have witnessed horrible incidents of counter-protestors who  retaliate by driving their vehicles through crowds to intentionally harm Black Lives Matter  supporters. What happened on the afternoon of October 3, echoes the intent of these  egregious acts, and what is not acceptable is that there were no consequences whatsoever for  Richard Cheney, before he was escorted to his vehicle to leave. 

More importantly, the incident involving Richard Cheney is by no means an isolated  incident. Fahren James, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement in South  Pasadena, has already been assaulted while protesting at Fair Oaks and Mission. This past July,  Joe Richcreek, a career criminal who has been arrested over 30 times and prosecuted 20 times,  yelled and spat on her and on the face of another protestor while holding a rock in one hand  and a double-sided sharpened drummer’s stick under his arm. On August 30, 2020, Zane  Crumley, a Black Lives Matter protestor was attacked by Michael Plough, a 41 year-old white 

male resident of South Pasadena, and his wife Jane Mi, a 42 year-old female Asian resident of  South Pasadena on the 110 block of El Centro Street. The couple accused Crumley of disturbing  the peace while he played music in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and they  assaulted him, breaking his laptop and his tooth. We believe that Fahren James and Black Lives  Matter protestors have become a target for local vigilantes and is an example of how systemic  racism has impeded justice. We are deeply concerned for the safety of Fahren James and Black  Lives Matter protestors and support their right to peaceful protest, as this now marks the  fourth incident. It is absolutely crucial that community members are not endangered and have  their right to free speech protected. 

On December 21, 2016, South Pasadena adopted Resolution 7491, a resolution of the  City Council of the city of South Pasadena, California, affirming the city of South Pasadena’s  commitment to diversity and to safeguarding the civil rights, safety and dignity of all of our  residents. South Pasadena community members want to see a real demonstration to exercise  this resolution now and an investigation of Police Chief Ortiz and police practices in the  department. 

A press conference will be held on Wednesday, October 21 at 11:00 am in front  of the South Pasadena Police Department on 1422 Mission Street, South  Pasadena, CA 91030 

The following community organizations support Black Lives Matter protestors and the press  conference: 

Anti Racism Committee (South Pasadena) 

Black Lives Matter South Pasadena (@BlackLivesMatterSouthPasadena ) 

Care First Group (South Pasadena) 

South Pasadena Youth for Police Reform


The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

Calling for Police Accountability | ARC Statement Regarding Incident on Fair Oaks and Mission on October 3

(SOURCE: South Pasadena Police Department Youtube Video)

Written by the Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena

October 6, 2020

Dear City Manager, City Council, and Public Safety Commission of South Pasadena,

The Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) of South Pasadena is a grass-roots organization committed to addressing the deep wounds of systemic racism in our city as well as working towards racial justice in government policy, public safety, education, housing, art, and community services, among others. ARC works in partnership with all community stakeholders in order to help foster accountability, equity, restorative justice, and empathic exchange. We are writing this letter to you to express our deep concern about a pattern of violence directed towards Black Lives Matter protestors in our city and the negligence of the South Pasadena Police Department. This pattern needs to stop.

On Saturday, October 3, 2020 at approximately 1:40 pm, a white male South Pasadena resident, Richard Cheney drove his Ram 1800 truck across opposing traffic and onto the sidewalk on the southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Mission. His truck stopped just one foot away from the metal barrier in front of Starbucks, nearly hitting Black Lives Matter protestors. Fortunately, the protestors and nearby pedestrians were able to quickly and safely move out of the way. Cheney was also heard yelling from his open window, “So, you’re gonna keep putting those signs up?” His dangerous maneuver was intended to intimidate and threaten Black Lives Matter protestors. Police were called. The watch commander who never came to the scene and the supervisor on duty who arrived after witnesses were interviewed, both came to the conclusion that they would not arrest or cite Cheney. The entire time, Richard Cheney refused to wear a mask and was eventually let go. Despite eyewitness accounts and videos documenting what happened, no arrests were made, and no citations were given. The South Pasadena Police Department has issued a news release on October 3, 2020 that “[t]he case will be presented to the District Attorney for filing considerations.”

The Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena condemns this violent and dangerous act. We are also frustrated with repeated inaction and lack of accountability of the South Pasadena Police Department to protect and serve our community, particularly our marginalized community members that include our Black and Latinx residents. During a time when protesters rightfully exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assembly to support Black lives, we have also witnessed horrible incidents of counter-protestors who retaliate by driving their vehicles through crowds to intentionally harm Black Lives Matter supporters. What happened last Saturday afternoon echoes the intent of these egregious acts, and what is not acceptable is that there were no consequences whatsoever for Richard Cheney.

More importantly, the incident involving Richard Cheney is by no means an isolated incident. Fahren James, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement in South Pasadena, has already been assaulted while protesting at Fair Oaks and Mission. This past July, Joe Richcreek, a career criminal who has been arrested over 30 times and prosecuted 20 times, yelled and spat on her and on the face of another protestor while holding a rock in one hand and a double-sided sharpened drummer’s stick under his arm. Richcreek returned two days later, threatened James, and threw a rock at her. Richreek had to be chased down and stalled by the protestors while they waited for police to arrive. We believe that Fahren James has become a target of systemic racism and a pattern of violence. We are deeply concerned for the safety of Fahren James and Black Lives Matter protestors and support their right to peaceful protest. It is absolutely crucial that community members are not endangered and have their right to free speech protected. We are frustrated that SPPD has not taken considerable action to address serious threats in our community. We demand that SPPD immediately address this situation more thoroughly and work directly with community groups to make departmental changes so that the police department is prepared to deal with any incidents in the future. We demand public report on all these incidents and want serious investigation because people’s lives are in danger. We want the city to investigate and deeply scrutinize what is happening in order to have more protection in place. 

On December 21, 2016, South Pasadena adopted Resolution 7491, a resolution of the City Council of the city of South Pasadena, California, affirming the city of South Pasadena’s commitment to diversity and to safeguarding the civil rights, safety and dignity of all of our residents. We want to see our city show a real demonstration to exercise this resolution now. 

The following outlines our specific demands:

From the Anti-Racism Committee of South Pasadena and signatories:

Robin Becker
Sierra Betinis
Colin Burgess
Rich Elbaum
Will Hoadley-Brill
Angel Gomez
Phung Huynh
Amber Jaeger
Cassandra Kaldor
Caitlin Lainoff
Jacinta Lincke
Elana Mann
Janet N. McIntyre
Robing Meyer
Sean Meyer
Ayaka Nakaji
Carla Obert
Julia Moreno Perri
Alexandra Ramirez
Sarah Rodman
Daniel Saunders
Gretchen Schulz
Allie Schreiner
Chris Smith
Drew Tager
Richard Tom
Helen Tran
Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson
Oliver Wang
Stefani Williams


The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

The Unintended Harm of Chief Ortiz’s “Error in Judgment”

(SOURCE: The South Pasadenan)

Written by Will Hoadley-Brill

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 24, South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz invited members of the police department, the City Council, and the Public Safety Commission to a prayer service for first responders in the fire and police departments at the plaza of City Hall that was to take place on Saturday, September 26. The sponsoring individuals of this community prayer event were South Pasadena residents representing the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property. 

The TFP, as they call themselves, is a poorly veiled hate group. Their “About Us” page describes the organization as comprised of, “lay Catholic Americans concerned about the moral crisis shaking the remnants of Christian civilization.” Without scrolling very far on their homepage one can observe their firm stance against the Black Lives Matter movement, same sex marriage (the article linked here is in Spanish), and a blatant disregard for Covid-19 restrictions so that Catholics can begin receiving communion “in the traditional way…on the tongue.”  On the bottom of their homepage there is even a small ad to send Rosaries to “Prayers for Police Across America.” 

In their article firmly stating their opposition to same sex marriage, they list the following reasons, among others (translated from Spanish by the author of this article): it is a violation of natural law, it will always deprive children of having a father or a mother, it validates and promotes the homosexual lifestyle, it imposes its acceptance on all of society, it converts a bad action into a civil right, among others. In an article covering the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the only Jewish woman to have ever served, they explain, “Most encomiums praised her tenacity, talents and abilities. They celebrated her academic and legal achievements as a woman. While these things might be considered important in life, they matter little in death. When all is said and done, we will be judged by our acts, our adherence to God’s law and love for Him.” 

The blatant homophobic, sexist, and anti-semitic sentiments of the two articles quoted above, only a sample of their publications, demonstrate the hateful tilt of this group. It is quite clear what American tradition they are defending and which kinds of families they include in their vision of the United States. 

After this event was brought to the attention of the public and the true values of the TFP were revealed to the city, Chief Ortiz issued a public apology for his “error” and cancelled the event. He explained that, “without properly looking into who the prayer group was representing, and thoroughly understanding its current values, beliefs, and traditions, in [his] haste [he] provided permission to the resident and her group to meet in front of the station and pray for our first responders. In addition to the first responders, [he] invited all employees of the Police Department, City Council, and Public Safety Commission… [His] error in judgment was the result of good intentions, albeit with poor execution.” He ends his apology with acknowledgment of his error and a promise to “do everything in [his] power to regain the trust and confidence of the residents of South Pasadena.” 

The swift cancellation of the event is something to be acknowledged, however, it should never have initially been scheduled and publicized by a public official. The fundamental separation of religion from all levels of government is crucial to ensure the 1st Amendment right to religious freedom and maintain a completely secular reputation of city government. The hateful messaging and bigoted stances of the organization the city momentarily publicized only further exemplify the reasons to completely sever any ties between religiously affiliated groups and city officials while acting in their capacities as public servants. I am deeply grateful for the work that our first responders perform daily and I encourage all those who wish to express their gratitude in whatever feels suitable for them, however, the first responders themselves are not responsible for amplifying any event that may be intended to thank them; particularly events with a religious stilt or sponsored by an organization affiliated with a particular political entity or stance. 

Moving away from the generalities of best practices for public officials, this seeming public approval of the TFP as an organization did harm to community members and further weakened the trust of many community members for the police department even if unintendedly so. I will not speak for any other member of the South Pasadena community except myself. 

I have lived in South Pasadena my entire life raised by two women. I was ecstatic to be able to do something that most children are not able to: attend their parents’ wedding. Although South Pasadena was not hostile toward my family before the Supreme Court decision in 2015 legalizing same sex marriage, there were always moments in which I, my siblings, or my family felt othered or left out of certain groups, circles, or spaces (particulary when Prop 8 was on the ballot in 2008). When the highest court of our land affirmed my family’s validity to exist through legal matrimony, I finally felt as if complete acceptance was possible. Of course my fifteen-year-old naivete has since dissipated, but the importance of that decision can not be understated. 

My own identity as a gay Jewish man in South Pasadena has also been a blaring difference from the majority population. We have seven churches in South Pasadena (if I counted correctly) and not a single synagogue, temple, or shul. I have never personally experienced hateful actions nor words against myself or my family in South Pasadena because of our religious background, but the lack of representation and active inclusion has been noticed. 

These slight examples of indirect, unintentional exclusion and othering simply through the homogeneity of South Pasadena throughout my years here has never been embodied quite as explicitly as an email from the Police Chief encouraging attendance for public officials at an event sponsored by a hateful Catholic organization. I believe that Chief Ortiz is not a hateful man, and I continue to respect him and the work he does for this community. However, this “error” (an understatement, in my opinion) is not one that will be easily forgotten. My trust, already wavering before this series of events, will not be easily regained. His “good intentions” accompanied by “poor execution” is not simply an error of an individual, but a symptom of a concerning growth of exclusion and discrimination that we are seeing nationwide, in our surrounding communities, and in our very own city. The police department ought to be on the frontlines of the inclusive city that even our City Council has codified in an ordinance. 

My trust will not be regained through a public apology alone. I expect to see change made to the department to reflect these values of “inclusivity, tolerance for all, and environmental stewardship” as Ortiz himself wrote. I intend to continue to hold all public officials accountable for creating the city that I envision: one that actively pursues the radical inclusion it preaches and carefully researches and plans each action it takes. 


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC Community Board is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

A South Pas Community Member’s Critical Question for SPPD

(SOURCE: The South Pasadenan)

Written by Deb McCurdy

In late July, I planned to write about the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations in South Pasadena, organized after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police while in their custody. I also planned to write about how on July 8 a man, (allegedly) Joe Richcreek, carrying a sharpened drumstick, approached one of our local demonstrators, Fahren James, argued with her, spat in the face of another, Victoria Patterson, then left the scene before police arrived (read Victoria Patterson’s account of the incident here). This assault was recorded on camera. Richcreek allegedly returned to the BLM demonstration on July 10 and after a verbal exchange, picked up a rock, threw it at James, hitting her in the leg and once again, fled on bicycle. He was followed by several witnesses. They were able to stop him and when police arrived, there was a group of about six people gathered (according to my interview with James). A video of this incident was also recorded on camera and is available on social media.

One of the officers involved in the suspect’s July 10 arrest, Officer Randy Wise, can be heard on the video making some concerning statements. He seemed angry at one of those gathered, London Lang. Wise told him, “You guys caused this!” and “The cop hating around here is so wrong … we aren’t Minneapolis… why bring this to our city? We don’t need this here!” Wise also described the South Pasadena BLM demonstrations as “anti-police” in his official report — all curious to me, since it was the suspect’s violence that initiated these events and the demonstrators made no mention during interviews of being “anti-police.”

I called the SPPD several times, hoping to speak with Officer Wise. I e-mailed him and cc’d Chief Ortiz. I got no response. I was, however, able to speak with Chief Ortiz on several occasions. He explained that the suspect was “cited out,” for the rock throwing, but not cited for the spitting. In other words, he was handed a citation and was free to go until his court date, despite any prior history of arrests and convictions. I asked the Chief what he thought about our local demonstrators. He said he was glad they were here and that they have been “conscientious and respectful of property.”

As I drafted this letter, our country witnessed the McCloskeys, a suburban couple pointing their guns at BLM protesters in St. Louis, the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the subsequent civilian killing of BLM protesters in that same city, allegedly by a 17 year old with an AR-15. There’s a video of this armed civilian being thanked for his participation by a Kenosha police officer upon his arrival. This video raised questions for me as well. It seemed odd that this armed civilian was welcomed by their police department while our unarmed civilian was criticized. Regardless . . .

I still haven’t heard back from Officer Wise. As South Pasadena citizens we are only privy to his police report, I suppose. I did speak with some of the people involved in the demonstrations and apprehension of the suspect , though. I asked many questions, but the question I got the most cogent response to was, “What does ‘Black Lives Matter’ mean to you?” I asked Officer Wise the same question in an email. I asked Chief Ortiz during one of our calls. There was a long pause. “I’m going to have to think about that,” he finally stated. I said I was happy to give him time, since I felt it was an important question we all should ponder. It’s now one month and several phone messages later and I still have had no response from Chief Ortiz or Officer Wise on the matter. My hope is that they are continuing to ponder it, as the dog days of summer drag on and as the demonstrations, protests, riots and killings around our country do the same.


This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC News page is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.