Story of the
of Africans in
GLOBAL AFRICAN DIASPORA
VICTORIA GRIMMETT RABB
JUSTICE A CENTURY LATER
Sen. Steven Bradford, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Supervisor Janice Hahn and Anthony Bruce at the bill signing Senate Bill 796 in 2021. Bradford authored the bill, which authorized the County of Los Angeles to return the beachfront property to the Bruce family. Courtesy sen.ca.gov
County returns Bruce's Beach to rightful owners
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—In a move hailed as an effort to right a nearly century-old wrong, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to return ownership of a pristine piece of Manhattan Beach seaside property to the descendants of a Black family who had the land stripped away nearly a century ago.
"We can't change the past and we will never be able to make up for the injustice that was done to Willa and Charles Bruce a century ago, but this is a start," said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who spearheaded the effort to return Bruce's Beach to the family.
She said the move will allow the Bruces' descendants a chance "to start rebuilding the generational wealth that was denied to them."
Under the board's action, ownership of the beachfront property shifts from the county to the great-grandsons of Charles and Willa Bruce, who purchased the land in 1912 and operated a resort for Black residents until the city of Manhattan Beach condemned the property under a false pretense of developing a park.
Immediately following the vote, the five-member board took a short recess in its meeting to officially sign the transfer documents for the land near Highland Avenue and 26th Street.
"We aren't giving property to anyone today," board chair Supervisor Holly Mitchell said. "We are returning property that was erroneously, and based on fear and hate, taken from them."
Under the agreement approved by the board Tuesday, the land was transferred to Marcus and Derrick Bruce, the great-grandsons of Charles and Willa Bruce. The Bruces will lease the land back to the county for $413,000 a year for the continued operation of county lifeguard facilities at the site.
The agreement also includes clauses that would allow the Bruces to later sell the property to the county for a price not to exceed $20 million.
Returning the property required a change in state law to authorize the county to transfer ownership of the land. It also required various actions at the county level to identify Bruce family heirs and settle the various
financial implications of transferring the property.
Hahn's voice quaked with emotions at times as she discussed the roughly yearlong effort to return the land, an effort she said will be "one of the most important things ... I've been involved in."
Hahn previously represented the Manhattan Beach area, but under the recent county redistricting effort, the city now falls in Mitchell's district.
Mitchell said the Bruces "had the courage, the entrepreneurial spirit and vision to purchase beachfront property nearly 100 years ago," adding, they "welcomed Black patrons during a time when legal segregation in the great County of Los Angeles kept Black families from accessing what California is known for—our public beaches."
While celebrating the approval of the land transfer, Mitchell said there is still much more work to do to "call out and acknowledge systemic racism."
Willa and Charles Bruce purchased their land in 1912 for $1,225. They eventually added some other parcels and created a beach resort catering to Black residents, who had few options at the time for enjoying the California coast.
Complete with a bath house, dance hall and cafe, the resort attracted other Black families who purchased adjacent land and created what they hoped would be an oceanfront retreat.
But the resort quickly became a target of the area's White populace, leading to acts of vandalism, attacks on vehicles of Black visitors and even a 1920 attack by the Ku Klux Klan.
The Bruces were undeterred and continued operating their small enclave, but under increasing pressure, the city moved to condemn their property and surrounding parcels in 1924, seizing it through eminent domain
under the pretense of planning to build a city park.
The resort was forced out of business, and the Bruces and other Black families ultimately lost their land in 1929. The families sued, claiming they were the victims of a racially motivated removal campaign. The Bruces were eventually awarded some damages, as were other displaced families. But the Bruces were unable to reopen their resort anywhere else in town.
Despite the city claiming the land was needed for a park, the property sat vacant for decades. It was not
until 1960 that a park was built on a portion of the seized land, with city officials fearing the evicted families
could take new legal action if the property wasn't used for the purpose for which it was seized.
The exact parcel of land the Bruces owned was transferred to the state, and then to the county in 1995.
The city park that now sits on a portion of the land seized by the city has borne a variety of names over the years. But it was not until 2006 that the city agreed to rename the park "Bruce's Beach" in honor of the
evicted family, a move derided by critics as a hollow gesture.
Prosecutor urges jury to convict accused killer of Nipsey Hussle
Eric Holder. LAPD file
By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—A prosecutor urged jurors today to convict a man of murdering rapper Nipsey Hussle and wounding two others by opening fire with two guns outside the musician's South Los Angeles clothing store, telling the panel the attack on the musician was "per- sonal" and ended with a kick to his head.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told the downtown Los Angeles jury during his closing argument that Eric Ronald Holder Jr. was "already planning to kill Nipsey Hussle" when he began putting bullets in a black semi-automatic handgun after being driven away from the parking lot following a March 31, 2019, conversation with the 33-year-old rapper, in which the topic of snitching allegedly came up.
"The approach he took was to stay out of their view until he was
right back on them," the prosecutor said of the 32-year-old defend- ant's return minutes later to the parking lot near Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.
"When he walked up to the group, he said, 'You're through' to Nipsey Hussle. He didn't say, 'I'm not a snitch.' He didn't say, 'Why are you talking about me?...'"
The prosecutor told jurors that Hussle was a "successful artist from the same neighborhood as Eric Holder, who's an unsuccessful artist. I submit to you that the motive for killing Nipsey Hussle had little to do with the conversation they had ... There's pre-existing jealousy," McKinney said, prompting a quick objection from defense attorney Aaron Jansen.
"Saying 'You're through' before shooting him and shooting him a number of times ... kicking him in the head, that's personal ... What makes this murder first-degree is premeditation and deliberation."
McKinney told the panel that Hussle had joined a gang as a youngster, had changed over time and "wanted to change the neighborhood," but remained accessible without an entourage, security or fanfare while standing outside his business when he was shot by somebody with whom he had shaken hands just minutes before on "just another beautiful Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles."
"These bullets traumatized a whole community," the prosecutor said. "Eric Holder did all of this to a neighborhood that he didn't live in for quite some time."
The defense is expected to give its closing argument later Thursday. In his opening statement, Holder's attorney conceded that his client "shot and killed" the rapper, but said the crime occurred in the "heat of passion."
Holder was "so enraged" about the rapper's accusation that he was a snitch that he returned nine minutes later "without thinking" and "acted without premeditation" in opening fire on him, Jansen told jurors.
Holder's attorney noted that his client is charged with murder, but said the charge should instead be vol- untary manslaughter—which is one of the options the jury can consider in connection with the killing of Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom.
Holder is also charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm involving two other people, along with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. The charges include allegations that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that he personally inflicted great bodily injury.
Jurors heard eight days of testimony during the trial, which was delayed for a day Tuesday following what Holder's attorney said was an attack in jail. Jansen told reporters outside court Wednesday that his client lost consciousness after being attacked Tuesday morning in a jail holding cell with other inmates while waiting to be taken to court. He subsequently underwent an MRI and required three staples to the back of his head, also suffering a swollen left eye and swelling on the left side of his face, according to Jansen.
Jurors were shown autopsy photos during the testimony of a medical examiner who said the Hussle suf- fered 11 gunshot wounds from his head to one of his feet. Dr. Lawrence Nguyen—who reviewed the results of the autopsy done by another medical examiner who is unavailable to testify—told jurors that he concluded the cause of the rapper's death was "multiple gunshot wounds."
"I believe the number of shots to be within the realm of 10 to 11," Nguyen told the downtown Los Ange- les jury hearing the case. One of the rapper's wounds—caused by a bullet that entered through the rapper's right abdomen—severed his spinal cord and would likely have caused paralysis in the lower extremities if he had survived the shooting, the medical examiner testified.
During the defense's portion of the case, private investigator Robert Freeman told jurors that being called a snitch could put a gang member at risk of being beaten or killed. He noted that it would be more dang- erous for an accusation about snitching to be made against someone in public where others could hear it and that something said by someone with a high status within a gang is "almost gold" on the streets.
Freeman, a former Los Angeles police officer, also told jurors that the firing of two guns—one in each hand that Holder allegedly wielded during the shooting—would lessen the accuracy of the shots. He noted that a two-handed grip on a gun is the best way to shoot with accuracy.
Holder was not called to testify in his own defense.
After Hussle's death, thousands of people were on hand in April 2019 for a service in his honor, with singer Stevie Wonder and rapper Snoop Dogg among those paying tribute to him.
In a letter that was read during the service, former President Barack Obama wrote, "While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going."
The rapper-entrepreneur was posthumously honored with two Grammy Awards in 2020 for best rap per- formance for "Racks in the Middle" and for best rap/sung performance for "Higher."
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON
INSTALLED TO HIGH COURT
WASHINGTON D.C. (MNS)—Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in to the Supreme Court on Thursday, shattering a glass ceiling as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court. The 51-year-old Jackson is the court’s 116th justice, and she took the place of the justice she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement was effective at noon.
Moments later, joined by her family, Jackson recited the two oaths required of Supreme Court justices, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement issued by the court. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.”
Local gas prices drop for 19th time in 20 days
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County decreased July 2 for the 18th consecutive day and 19th time in 20 days, dropping 1.1 cents to $6.297.
The average price has dropped 16.3 cents over the past 20 days, including 1.9 cents Friday, according to figures from the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The run of dropping prices follows an 18-day streak of increases totaling 36.9 cents.
The average price is 6 cents less than one week ago but 7.6 cents more than one month ago and $1.985 higher than one year ago.
In Orange County, the average price also decreased for the 18th consecutive day and 19th time in 20 days, dropping 1.7 cents to $6.204. It has decreased 20.6 cents over the past 20 days, including 2.1 cents Friday. The run of dropping prices follows an 17-day streak of increases totaling 35.1 cents.
Orange County's average price is 7.6 cents less than one week ago but four-tenths of a cent more than one month ago and $1.933 higher than one year ago.
Nationally, average price dropped for the 18th consecutive day following an 18-day streak of increases, decreasing 2 cents to $4.822. It has dropped 19.4 cents over the past 18 days, including 1.5 cents on July 1.
The national average price rose 41.5 cents during the 18-day streak of increases. It is 8.6 cents less than one week ago but 10.7 cents more than one month ago and $1.696 higher than one year ago.
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