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The Cops Just Killed This 14-Year-Old Boy For Graffiting

On Tuesday, around 5:50 p.m., a cop shot and killed a 14-year-old boy in Boyle Heights – a predominantly Latino neighborhood just east of downtown Los Angeles.

Credit: @thesoniag/Instagram

The reason for his death? He was tagging.

According to reports, members of the LAPD gang enforcement division responded to a vandalism call. The two officers approached Jesse James Romero, the dead boy in question, and another unnamed teen suspect. Romero took off running, and the cops went after him. The police say that an unnamed witness saw Romero fire at the cops, so they fired back and killed him. A gun was found near where Romero was killed. A witness who spoke to the Los Angeles Times said that she saw Romero run down the street and throw a gun into the bushes. According to her statement, the gun went off after it hit a fence and landed on the ground.

“He didn’t shoot,” the woman told the LA Times.

Both officers, still unnamed, were wearing body cameras. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California says the two cops will get a chance to review the footage before they have to provide a statement of what happened. I don’t know when that footage will be made available to the public.

Speaking to the media, Deputy Chief Robert Arcos, suggested that what happened to Jesse James Romero was because of where he lived.

#JesseJamesRomero #DefendBoyleHeights

A photo posted by Sarah Marie (@sarahmariegee14) on

Credit: @sarahmariegee14/Instagram

“In a community where violent crime continues to rise, particularly gang crime, this event underscores the need for youth programs and outreach, which provide opportunities and alternatives for the young of our communities,” he said.

I live in Boyle Heights. There is less violent crime there than in Venice, which is richer and whiter. It’s not a gangland. It’s a working class Latino neighborhood that’s fighting off gentrification like crazy (and winning, at least for now). Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proudly claims his roots are in Boyle Heights.

I do not feel unsafe.

Instead, I feel anger and distrust. I’m furious that a 14-year-old boy was killed six blocks from my apartment for doing something dumb, no different than what other kids his age do on a daily basis. I’m suspicious of the police because of their lack of transparency. It doesn’t help that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office recently had to apologize for killing an innocent bystander – a black man – after spending two weeks trying to peg him as a second suspect in a carjacking. I’m much more comfortable giving benefit of the doubt to a Mexican boy who likely had a gun on him, than I am to law enforcement because I’m more afraid of being shot and killed by a cop than a middle school kid.

I’m disillusioned that Jesse James Romero, if he’s remembered at all by the public, will be painted as a violent thug who was a danger to society. That’s not how his friends and family will remember him.

Credit: @_cinthia/Instagram

“He was a very good student,” Teresa Dominguez, Romero’s 36-year-old single mother told the LA Times. “He was a very good person.”

“He was caring, he was loving. Whenever I was sad, he would put aside his troubles and drama and he would come help me. He would try to, he would do his best to make me smile,” Monica Garcia (pictured above), a teen girl who was friends with Romero, said to Los Angeles Times video reporter Luis Sinco. “Personally, I don’t want him to be remembered as a gang member. That’s just not right. He was someone’s kid, someone’s boyfriend, someone’s cousin, someone’s friend.” Jesus.

Even those who didn’t know the boy are devastated.

Credit: @VeronicaRochaLA

Last night, at around 10 p.m., I took my dog out for a walk to clear my head. As I headed to a nearby park, a white, dinky car suddenly stopped and parked in the middle of the street with the engine still running. A young, Latino-looking kid rushed out of the vehicle, sprinted to a white wall on the opposite side of the street where I was standing, tagged it, and then ran back into the car, which quickly took off. The whole incident lasted no more than 20 seconds. I lingered in place for about a minute trying to process what I’d just witnessed. Confusion immediately morphed into impotent rage.

“You stupid motherf****r,” I uttered under my breath, concluding that this tagger’s stupid actions could one day likely lead him to meet a fate similar to Jesse James Romero’s. I went straight to bed shortly thereafter because it was better to be asleep than to be equal parts fuming and despondent.


A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family of Jesse James Romero pay for his funeral costs. You can contribute here

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This Virgen de Guadalupe Mural Was Vandalized In Los Angeles And The Community Is Devastated

Things That Matter

This Virgen de Guadalupe Mural Was Vandalized In Los Angeles And The Community Is Devastated

La Virgen de Guadalupe means so much to so many. Especially the Latino community in Van Nuys, California, near Los Angeles, which is reeling after an important mural depicting La Virgen was vandalized overnight.

Although security cam footage captured an unknown man defacing the mural, the suspect is still at large and the community is asking for help in finding out who committed the vandalism.

A suspect was caught on camera destroying a mural with La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The community of Saint Elisabeth Church near Los Angeles is asking the community for prayers after a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe was vandalized on church grounds. 

The parish’s security system recorded video footage of an unknown man dressed in black approaching the mural with a sledgehammer at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday morning. He can be seen smashing the tiles that make up Our Lady’s face several times before fleeing.

On Friday, April 23, Father Di Marzio led a prayer service, which was livestreamed on the parish Facebook page. Some 30 parishioners gathered to sing and pray a decade of the rosary in front of the mural, which is roped off with caution tape, while nearly 100 others joined online. In closing, Fr. Di Marzio encouraged parishioners to “continue to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us, and to touch the heart of the person who did this.” 

Also on Friday, a local artist, Geo Rhodes, was scheduled to visit the mural and discuss a plan for repair, arranged by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “We hope that soon we will restore the image, or have a new one more beautiful than the one we had before,” Fr. Di Marzio said.  

La Virgen de Guadalupe is extremely important to the church.

The hand-painted tile mural stands between the church and the rectory. It was installed over 35 years ago as a “symbol of community unity,” said business manager Irma Ochoa. Each square tile was sponsored by a parish family. Overlooking a small altar, the mural has become a popular place for parishioners to pray and light candles, asking Our Lady for special blessings. 

“I feel an unspeakable sadness,” said Fr. Antonio Fiorenza, who is in residence at the parish. “But I feel pity for the one who made this sacrilegious gesture. I pray for his conversion and for all those who show contempt to the Virgin Mary.”

To donate to the restoration fund, visit stelisabethchurch.org

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Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

Fierce

Turns Out The First Owner Of Beverly Hills Was An Impressive Afro-Mexican Woman

Beverly Hills, one of the most well-known destinations in the country and world has long been a thriving and prime area for real-estate. Long before it was colonized by the Spanish, and was largely populated by rich white elites, the Indigenous people of California known as the Tongva, thrived there.

Hundreds of years later, in the 1830s, when the area was colonized, Maria Rita Valdez Villa, the granddaughter of Spanish colonists Luis and Maria Quintero and the great-granddaughter of an African slave was granted the original 4,500-acre of Beverly Hills, then known as El Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas.

Yes, as it turns out the foremother of Beverly Hills was a Black Latina!

During her ownership, Maria Rita oversaw cattle ranching and farming.

According to LA Magazine, Rita “was well known for holding a yearly celebratory rodeo under a famous eucalyptus tree at what is now Pico and Robertson boulevards.”

Sadly, after working the land for so much time, three Indigenous Californian outlaws attacked the ranch in 1852. The attack led to a shootout amongst “a grove of walnut trees at what is now Benedict Canyon and Chevy Chase drives” and eventually in 1854 Maria Rita decided to sell the area to investors Henry Hancock and Benjamin D. Wilson for $4,000.

Perhaps there’s a chance for justice for Maria Rita in the end.

Recently, Los Angeles County officials revealed that they were contemplating returning a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

According to the Guardian, Manhattan Beach used “eminent domain” in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, of the land where they lived. “The Bruces also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated,” explained the Guardian in a recent report. “Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles county and houses lifeguard headquarters and a training center.”

Manhattan Beach county Supervisor Janice Hahn announced that she was looking into ways to restore justice for Bruce family. Options include delivering the land back to the family, paying for losses, or potentially leasing the property from them

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn explained in a recent interview with KABC-TV.

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