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After Fireworks Explosion: Residents Still Struggling in South LA

VOICES

FIREWORKS EXPLOSION UPDATE - It has been almost ten months since the LAPD Bomb unit botched the detonation of illegal fireworks on East 27th Street in South LA.

Many residents were injured and homes were destroyed and left uninhabitable, leaving many residents homeless. According to home owner Jose Becerra, "Our Life is still a mess!  I just want to get home. I have been residing in a hotel for close to a year." 

This is what has been learned since this horrific event. 

First, hats off to the LAPD Bomb unit member who came forward and stated that he advised both his co-workers and supervisors that it would be unsafe to detonate the illegal fireworks based on the weight and the amount. His advice was ignored, and he was told to "chill."  I hope that this honest LAPD officer has obtained legal counsel. 

What about the ATF agent who was the expert on explosives? This ATF agent along with many LAPD officers present at the location sustained injuries as a result of the flawed detonation. 

Let’s go back to the community meeting which was held at the Trinity Recreation Center on February 12, 2021. 

Present at this meeting was Los Angeles City Council Member Curren Price, LAPD Deputy Chief Alfred Labrada, LAPD Commander David Kowalski (in charge of the bomb unit) and representatives of both the LA. City Attorney's office and LA. Building and Safety. 

As residents impacted by the explosion expressed their concerns, Deputy Chief Labrada (who was observed playing or texting on his phone) said very little of any substance. Commander Kowalski acknowledged that he failed to respond to the location on 27th Street. He refused to explain why.  LAPD was at the location for more than 9 hours prior to the detonation. 

Councilman Price stated that he had made arrangements for many of the displaced residents to relocate into local motels.  Also, he would provide new appliances and new windows for the homes which were damaged. According to the residents who had received motel vouchers from Councilman Price, the motels were located in sleazy locations and were dirty. 

After many complaints Councilman Price did secure 5 million dollars from the city of Los Angeles coffers to assist those residents impacted by the explosion. 

More than 28 homes and various businesses sustained major damage.  Few if any have been repaired as of this date. The windows that Price promised early on, according to Hector Garcia, are missing. Another resident stated that the city has failed to repair and replace door hinges as promised. 

It seems that very little has been accomplished to assist those residents who have been impacted.  Many homes remain boarded up and many families remain displaced.  The City of Los Angeles has completely turned their backs on the residents who resided on 27th Street and the surrounding areas.  NBC News says that LAPD continues to patrol the area 24-7 to protect the boarded up homes.  One resident stated on local news that the city sends a construction worker over to repair his home maybe one or two days a week.  However, the construction worker stated that the city of LA has not been paying him.   Homeowners insurance companies are questioning the submitted claims, stating the burden of financial responsibility lies with the City of LA. 

Holly Mitchell, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor who I believe represents the area, has been missing in action.  In fact Mitchell and Price have been on local TV news encouraging residents (not those who resided on 27th Street) to sign up for “Breathe LA – The County guaranteed income program of one thousand dollars a month for three years.” How unfair is that?   The residents on 27th Street lost their homes, their personal belongings, clothing, pictures and many, their vehicles; their only means of transportation to go to work every day. 

What politicians won't say and do to get reelected into office 

This is what our useless Mayor could have done with the approval of each member of the Los Angeles City Council. 

---Garcetti could have made a motion to allocate $30-50 million taxpayer dollars to immediately repair the damaged properties, replace vehicles destroyed and replace furniture items et. 

---He could have provided financial assistance so that the adults and children affected could seek medical help and mental health services. 

The city of Los Angeles no doubt is facing multiple civil lawsuits surrounding the flawed detonation of the illegal fireworks by LAPD.  The Department has already acknowledged their fault in this matter.  Pending lawsuits does not preclude the city from coming forward with an advance of financial assistance for these impacted residents and businesses who reside on 27th Street and the immediate surrounding areas. 

Let’s take a good look at the current council members running for Mayor and how they have remained mute on this topic of discussion. 

Both Joe Buscaino and Keven De leon want to be the new Mayor for the City of Los Angeles.  Both have residents that reside in their council districts that are people of color and are classified as low-income earners. As for Curren Price, we have seen that talk is cheap.

Our current city attorney, Mike Feuer (who is also running for Mayor), could have made a financial recommendation but he like the others remained mute.  

None of the above are worthy of being elected as Mayor of the city of Los Angeles.  

Back in 2010 former California State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did the right thing.  There was a man named Phillip Garrido under California State Parole Supervision as a convicted sex offender.  Parole Agents failed to do their jobs in providing proper parole supervision on Garrido.  It was later discovered that Garrido had kidnapped Jaycee Dugard at very young age and held her captive in his home for many years. Schwarzenegger acknowledged that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Parole Supervision failed to do their job, and knowing that civil law suits were pending naming CDCR, he ordered and awarded the payment of $20 million in taxpayer dollars to Jaycee Dugard. 

Eric Garcetti and our LA City Council members should act with the same compassion and award partial funds to help these families. Once all the lawsuits have been settled the advance of funds could offset the monies awarded to the impacted families and businesses. 

This date, I communicated with a LA City Water and Power employee, and he stated that on the day after the horrific event, he was at the site and described it as a war zone. Not much has changed after close to ten months. 

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore has promoted Deputy Chief Labrada to the rank of Assistant Chief.  Labrada, at the Trinity Recreation center meeting, paid little to no attention to the residents impacted by the flawed explosion.

Also remember LAPD Commander David Kowalski of the Bomb Unit, who even after nine hours failed to show up at the 27th Street location, has also been promoted by Chief Moore to the rank of Deputy Chief. 

No wonder the morale is so low among the rank and file within the Los Angeles Police Department.  Be a member of the GOOD OLE BOYS CLUB and get PROMOTED, DESERVING OR NOT! 

This city needs elected officials who really care about all of the residents who reside in our city. We need to get rid off all of our career politicians.

 

(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.)