EL SEGUNDO HERALD June 11, 2020 Page 5
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See Film Review, page 9
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toward people of color - including his other
children - has bothered him.
Resident Paula Lee talked about an incident
that happened to her husband, who is Asian.
“When we moved to town, my husband was
followed around town for several days,” she
said. “I can start to understand what the black
people in El Segundo go through.”
As a parent of biracial children, she sought
to raise awareness about the taunting her family
experiences. The behavior is subtle, she said,
but her children definitely feel it. “I don’t even
think the people of El Segundo think they
(her children) are being treated differently
because of the color of their skin,” Lee said.
Natasha Lee, who is a student at El Segundo
High School, discussed how upset she was
that a woman was videotaped removing Black
Lives Matter posters along Main Street in
the downtown area. The posters encouraged
residents to support the campaign for equality.
The Herald has reviewed the videotape,
posted on Instagram by user 2mercury7. In
the footage, a woman is seen pulling a flier
from a light post in the 400 block of Main
Street. The video was shared on social media,
the same day that protesters peacefully
walked down Grand Avenue and Main Street
to support Black Lives Matter.
The woman in the video was identified as
Claire Maxwell, the sister of Councilwoman
Carol Pirsztuk. Pirsztuk addressed the incident
at the council meeting, saying her sister
admitted it was wrong to remove the Black
Lives Matter fliers. The city’s code-compliance
department should have been contacted, the
Pirsztuk then read a statement in which she
expressed sadness for the “senseless, tragic
death” in Minneapolis of George Floyd. The
City Council and the police department respect
diversity and promote inclusion, her statement
said. The councilwoman agreed with Cecil
Brown. The community will need to work
harder in the future on the issues raised by
the protesters. “We are open and committed
to work with the community, and grow and
improve,” Pirsztuk pledged.
She encouraged young people to keep
speaking up for racial equality for people
of color while insisting that killings and
targeting of African-Americans be stopped.
“We do want change for our community,”
Mayor Drew Boyles spoke with the protesters
and came away impressed with their
message and commitment to stopping violent
encounters between police and African-
Americans. “It was a humbling experience
to be in the midst of so many passionate
members of our society,” the mayor said
while acknowledging prejudice and racial bias
still exists in El Segundo. He has witnessed
changes though in his 25 years here.
“We have work to do,” the mayor said,
ticking off a number of initiatives for promoting
the call to help people of color to
feel safe and thrive in the community. The
mayor credited a local high school student
with articulating several promising solutions
and said he is listening. One idea: more
funding for the Arts and Culture Committee.
El Segundo could make diversity a bigger
priority in budget discussions and policy
decisions, Boyles suggested. The goal could
be added to the city’s strategic planning
Police Chief Bill Whelan praised the El
Segundo demonstrators who alerted the city
about planned protests and avoided the ugly
scenes in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. “I
couldn’t be more proud of our community
how they came together to voice their concerns
peacefully,” he said.
The chief made a rare admission: Lawenforcement
in U.S. cities has a racist history.
Whelan has witnessed racist behavior in his
police career, which led him to research and
write a paper about the friction between
officers and Africans-Americans, he said.
Though municipal police and sheriff’s departments
have tried to address the practices with
diversity training, “it hasn’t been enough,”
the chief said.
Whelan called George Floyd’s death “unfathomable”
that police officers could watch
a man die and not render aid.
“There’s a lot of pain out there,” he said
after receiving hundreds of emails from people.
A deeper conversation has begun in U.S.
communities, he believes. The El Segundo
protesters asked city officials and the residents
to think about how their actions, attitudes
and silence perpetuates racism in America.
And the chief and the council are listening.
“I don’t think we’re going to move forward
by pointing fingers at the police department
and saying that you have racist cops,” Chief
Whalen said. “We certainly will do everything
we can to fix that. But I think as a community,
we need to acknowledge the responsibility
is on all of us to fix this.”
Now, about the 5G wireless hearing: Because
of COVID-19 restrictions on public events
and crowds, the open hearing took place in
an empty council chamber. Council members
watched Planning Manager Greg McLain’s
presentation via the Internet.
The council heard what the technology
can do, why El Segundo needs to build
a 5G wireless network and the options in
the design and placement of the antennas
around the city.
In the public hearing about bringing 5G
wireless signal to El Segundo, Planning
Manager Greg McLain explained the newgeneration
wifi is required of cities by the
federal government. The council has some
latitude in the design and appearance of the
5G network. The plan is to attach antennas
on utility phones throughout the city and
conceal the equipment under spherical covers,
5G signal is weaker than the current 4G
and doesn’t travel as far, so more antennas
are needed to minimize any “dead zones”
once carriers build their 5G networks. The
technology is integral to self-driving cars and
digital health devices that relay a patient’s
medical data in real-time. No one addressed
the council during the virtual public hearing,
which capped the wild week at City Hall.
Two local emergency orders were in effect
simultaneously. A revised COVID-19 order
allowed restaurants and retailers to reopen
if they maintained social distancing. It also
encouraged residents to come out and support
local businesses. But, last week’s curfew -
aimed at halting street violence and clashes
between police and Black Lives Matter
protesters in Greater Los Angeles - ordered
people to be home by dinner time.
The nightly curfew has been lifted. El
Segundo is considering closing Richmond
Street to boost restaurant and retail foot traffic
so businesses can reopen. Council members
Lance Giroux and Carol Pirsztuk urged the
city manager and planners to act quickly on
behalf of local businesses coming back from
a three-month shutdown. •
Support Black Cinema:
Four Films To Watch
Morgan Rojas for cinemacy.com
Do films have the power to change the
world? While Ryan and I both believe so, it›s
hard to say that definitively when we continue
to see injustices against the black community.
Since Cinemacy is a film community
designed to champion independent filmmaking
and voices, we›d like to take this moment
to highlight four powerful films directed by
black filmmakers about the struggle of being
black in America. Watch their films. Learn
their stories. Amplify their voices. Change
the current narrative so that we can one day
say, definitively, that films had the power to
change the world.
Fruitvale Station | dir. Ryan Coogler |
Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, and
other VOD platforms.
Before Ryan Coogler made history with
Black Panther, he directed the indie film
Fruitvale Station. The film, also starring
Michael B. Jordan, is based on a true story
about 22-year-old Oscar Grant who tries to
get his life together after spending time in
prison. He is a young father who supports his
girlfriend and daughter and is determined to
make up for lost time. Set in Oakland, CA,
flashbacks reveal the last day in Oscar’s life,
in which he became swept up in an altercation
with police that ended in a senseless tragedy.
I Am Not Your Negro | dir. Raoul Peck |
Streaming on Amazon
Raoul Peck’s documentary uses the words
of late-author James Baldwin to tell the story
of race in modern America. In 1979, Baldwin
wrote a letter to his agent describing his next
book “Remember This House,” a personal
account of the lives and assassinations of
three of his close friends: Martin Luther
King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.
When Baldwin died in 1987, he had only
written 30 pages of this manuscript. In I Am
Not Your Negro, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions
the revolutionary book James Baldwin
If Beale Street Could Talk | dir. Barry
Jenkins | Streaming on Hulu
L-R: If Beale Street Could Talk, Fruitvale Station, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th
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