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Inglewood and Snoop Dogg Give Back

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Against the backdrop of the Fabulous Forum, hundreds of families lined up to receive a holiday turkey and trimmings courtesy of Hip Hop icon, Snoop Dogg, the City of Inglewood, and MSG Forum.


The event marks the first time Snoop, the City of Inglewood, and MSG Forum have teamed up for a giveaway of this magnitude, and it was nothing short of a success.


When asked about the day’s event, Mayor James Butts added, “We’re here today, out of the generosity of Snoop Dogg. I always say that Inglewood is rising, but this man, 6 or 7 months ago we talked, and he said, he wants to be part of what we are becoming.  This is a time of Thanksgiving, to be thankful for your blessings, and thanks to Snoop, a lot of people will have a great meal.”  


Mayor Butts was joined by Councilmembers George Dotson, Eloy Morales, Alex Padilla, and Ralph Franklin.  City Manager Artie Fields and other Inglewood officials were also in attendance. 


 “Hey, I love my city. Inglewood is my new home,” Snoop said. “Happy to see Inglewood rising. Today is about the blessings that I’ve received and me being able to give back to those who may not have the same blessings. So I just wanna make sure that everybody is having a great Thanksgiving, everybody is able to eat, and the City of Inglewood can be proud of each other and proud of us for what we’re trying to do. It’s always about giving with me, I love to give, so even if it wasn’t Thanksgiving, I’m happy to be a part of Inglewood, and being able to give y’all something, so Happy Thanksgiving.”


The community was excited not only to take selfies with the cultural icon and Hip Hop legend, but folks were truly humbled by the gesture that will enable them to have a decent Thanksgiving.


Inglewood Today asked people in the community to talk about what they were most thankful for.



One resident said, “My money was short this year and I was calling my people for money, and I got this flyer from my daughter’s school, so thank you for giving us a turkey, we’re gonna have a good Thanksgiving.”



A District 2 resident said, “First of all, I just wanna thank Snoop Dogg, for his kind donation to Inglewood and this year, I’m thankful for good health and having a family that supports me.”



We caught up with the hosts of the event, MSG Forum, and the Forum’s General Manager Nick Spampanato added, “We at MSG, we’re really happy to be part of this first-year event. We think it’s a great event (with) Snoop, the City, MSG, everybody coming together and giving back to the community. When we first started, we said that our community involvement was paramount. This is another way that we are showing it. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!”


Councilman Eloy Morales said, “The Forum is back, and most importantly, the City of Inglewood is back. This is just one of the examples. I wanna thank Snoop Dogg who came out to the City of Inglewood and gave us part of what he’s about, the Mayor and his leadership, who really put this together. Welcome to the City of Inglewood Snoop, and welcome back, City of Inglewood, we’re on the rise.”



 “Today is a picture of Inglewood at its, charity and fellowship. I want to thank Snoop, MSG and the Forum for working with the City to make this a happier Thanksgiving for 800 families,” Mayor Butts said.






Los Angeles Lakers’ Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis, and the Lakers Girls rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday to help distribute food boxes to 300 families at The Salvation Army Inglewood Citadel Corps, 324 Queen Street. 


The Lakers, East West Bank and The Salvation Army teamed up to ensure that deserving Inglewood residents could partake in the annual holiday feast of turkeys, pies and all of the classic holiday trimmings.


This marks the 7th year The Salvation Army Inglewood Citadel Corps, along with their various community partners, have hosted the “Miracle on Manchester” food distribution event. Since the annual event first began it has given more than 8,000 families the gift of a Thanksgiving meal.


A representative said in a statement, “The Salvation Army Inglewood Citadel Corps is proud to partner with the Los Angeles Lakers, East West Bank, Food Finders, and the Rotary Club of Inglewood, whose lead gift of needed food staples for each food box helped make the event a reality.”


 It was the second Thanksgiving food event in Inglewood.  Hip hop star Snoop Dogg joined Mayor Butts and council members earlier that day to feed around 800 families at the Forum.


The “granddaddy” of annual Thanksgiving giveaways took place in downtown Los Angeles.  More than 4,000 people were invited in off the streets of Skid Row on Saturday to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Union Rescue Mission.


The 800-bed shelter hosts the feast each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to provide a free, home-like dining experience and sense of belonging for L.A. area homeless residents.


During the 2013 holiday season The Salvation Army in Southern California provided more than 290,000 meals to individuals in need. Delivering food to the hungry is just one of the social services made possible this Christmas season, when money is donated to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles stationed at storefronts throughout the city.


For more information on The Salvation Army in Southern California, visit To help a hungry family in need in your community, contribute to red kettles or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. 









Ferguson Ruling No Surprise

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Neither the grand jury’s ruling not to induct Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, nor reaction to it, came as a surprise Monday night.  For weeks, MO Gov. Jay Nixon has employed military force and other heavy-handed tactics in preparation of a non-indictment.   The FAA even enacted a “no fly zone” policy over Ferguson in advance.


For more than 100 days, mostly peaceful protestors have kept alive images of slain teen Michael Brown through photos, signs, chants and social media.  The unarmed 18 year-old was shot multiple times by Wilson on August 9.   The shooting has been playing out in the media against the backdrop of poverty, racial tension and violations of free speech and peaceful assembly by police.   


Protestors in the northeastern St. Louis community have braved freezing temperatures, tear gas, arrests and the National Guard to assert their civil rights.  Brown has become the national face of black unarmed teens gunned down at the hands of police—a systemic problem in communities of color.


Protests organized in advance (regardless of the ruling) in New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco L.A, and scores of other cities went on as planned. The decision was delivered publicly by prosecuting attorneys around 9:15pm EST:  “Police Officer Darren Wilson will not face charges following the shooting death of Michael Brown.”


Violence erupts in Ferguson.    


Ferguson became a war zone after the jury decision.  CBS News reported people looting and tear gas being fired by police.  Johnathan Blakely reported by Skype:  “About 30 protestors went to the Metro PCS store. . .and some went to McDonald’s and broke windows.  At the Ferguson supermarket where Michael Brown was seen before his death, protestors went inside.  There was a fire burning inside.”


News crews became targets of both police and protestors. Michelle Miller reported via phone that “It appears those canisters (tear gas) were being fired in the parking lot where the media was staging.  Most of the crowd has been dispersed.  We had to drive out of the area because the tear gas was so strong.”


Reporter Jake Barlow said, “People were throwing objects at the vehicle.  The police started firing tear gas.   We were shot at by some of the protestors.  We took cover behind some cars.” 


What happened?


Wilson stated in his testimony (a day after the shooting) that Brown kept “charging” him after being told repeatedly to stop.  He said Brown’s hands were in his waist band.  Wilson also stated his eyes were damaged during a scuffle with Brown in the police car, but pictures taken after the shooting do not prove any such injuries.  A struggle allegedly occurred between Wilson and Brown inside the police car over a gun, according to Wilson.


An NAACP spokesman said the incident stemmed from racial profiling.  Brown was stopped by police because he allegedly fit the description of a robbery suspect in the area.  The suspect was wearing a black tee-shirt.  Brown was wearing a gray shirt.


What led to decision?


The investigation by St. Louis County Police lasted over 3 months and consisted of more than 70 hours of testimony and 60 witnesses.  The grand jury consisted of 9 whites and 3 blacks.  According to reports, three autopsies performed by medical examiners show Brown was never shot in the back, as previously reported.  Wilson fired at Brown 12 times.  A private autopsy requested by Brown’s family showed the teen was hit at least six times: four times in the right arm and twice in the head.


Michael Baden, a high profile forensic pathologist, hired by the Brown family, said there were “no signs of struggle” between Brown and Wilson.  His findings were consistent with those of the Browns’ attorney. 


Attorneys for Brown’s family said that the head shot went from a “back to front position” — consistent with eyewitnesses who said Brown was surrendering.


He also said there was no gunshot residue on his body, meaning Brown may not have been shot at close range.  Still, Baden said, that was inconclusive because he didn’t have access to Brown clothes.


New York Has a Moment of Silence.


The New York Daily News reports hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Union Square in Manhattan. When the grand jury decision was announced, word quickly spread through the crowd. In a few minutes, most were holding one fist up in the air as they observed a moment of silence that lasted nearly five minutes.


For one New York woman, the non-indictment sends a message that people of color are not valued.  There’s an acceptance that black and brown lives don’t matter, she said.


"The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color,” President Barack Obama said in a speech after the decision. “Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates." Calling for criminal justice reform, he added, "We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America."  


Echoing the president, Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) said in a statement:


“This is a story that I hoped would be relegated to the history books. Unfortunately, it repeats itself today. We must once again make the case for the value of our own lives, in our own neighborhoods.


“The execution of males of color is far too commonplace in America and highlights just why California has a Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, to continue to shine a light on this disparity in the criminal justice system”


In Los Angeles, about 300 protestors gathered near USC.  The protest was peaceful.  College student Brittany Haynes commented, “If they were going to indict Wilson, they would have done it before now.  So, this is what I expected.”


The situation escalated by 11:30pm when a group of about 150 people climbed onto the 110 Freeway and sat down, shutting down traffic. Protesters chanted "No justice, no peace. No racist police," according to the L.A. Times.


The Michael Brown case is far from over.  A federal investigation is still being conducted.  The Brown family may still file a wrongful death lawsuit.  Newsweek reported in August that a group of Missouri residents, are suing the city and police department of Ferguson for $40 million for what they describe as “wanton and excessive force” by police during recent unrest. 


Parents Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, issued this statement after the ruling: 


"We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.


While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.


Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.  We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.  Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference."













Balancing Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Thursday, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and give thanks for what they already have.  On Friday, some will forget all about the day before and fight over stuff like they don’t have anything.  


One day we’re so humble and grateful.  The next day, so acquisitive.  Our annual day of thanks is followed by the biggest shopping day of the year. 


It’s amazing how the allure of advertising and the “urgency” of Black Friday pulls people into malls and websites like hypnosis.  How easily quiet moments of gratitude turn into a competitive race to check off that Christmas list.


Thanksgiving is among one of the most beautiful and noble holidays, yet it is becoming increasingly compromised by commercialism.  It’s as if retailers are saying, “Give thanks, but hurry up so you can get to this sale.” 


Gift giving connects us to each other.  We bond over the things we give and receive.  And, making the spirit of giving more important than the gift itself is the best way to honor our annual Day of Thanks.


I encourage you to take to heart a couple of phrases heard this time of year.  Make them a part of your holiday mindset:


The season to be jolly.  The holidays can be emotionally sensitive, so think about how you can make the day of someone who may not feel much like celebrating.  Find a funny movie or something to laugh about.


Peace on earth.  The holiday season is also a time for “peace on earth.”  Peace begins in your mind.  If you’re thinking about spending money you don’t have, or disregarding any effort to control overeating, you will not be at peace with yourself.   So decide early on what you will and will not spend, eat or drink, and who you will or will not spend the holiday with.


There is a way to have a meaningful time with family, find some great bargains and do what is right for you.  It just takes a little mental preparation.


Have a safe, mindful and Happy Thanksgiving!




Immigration Reform By Executive Order

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Having emerged from one battle known as the Midterm Elections, President Barack Obama is already knee deep into another.  It’s called immigration reform.  With just 2 months left to fight—before Republicans take over the Senate—time is of the essence. 


The president does have a secret weapon—executive order. It may well be his last chance to get any meaningful major legislation passed before Congress shifts hands in January. 


A commentator on noted, “Whether the Republican leadership realizes it or not, Obama is setting a trap for them. And if history is any guide, they will stay true to form and take the bait.  Republicans hate the president, and they may hate the idea of illegal immigrants even more — particularly Latinos and other brown and black folks who don’t speak English. They just can’t help themselves.”  Indeed. 


The president has put together a 10-point plan on immigration that could protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, nearly double the number who received amnesty three decades ago, in 1986, when 2.7 million people received green cards and permanent residency under Ronald Reagan, according to the site.


With attention focused on Ebola, ISIS and the economy, the decades-old immigration problem keeps getting kicked further down the Congressional priorities list.  But it remains at the core of what Republicans say they are all about—family values.  What is more basic to family values than keeping families together?


The immigration issue is first and foremost about family and unless we put real faces to this story, opponents will continue to make immigration only about breaking the law.  We must find a way to help otherwise law-abiding immigrants become tax paying citizens, while punishing violent criminals, as we would do anyone else. 


But tearing families apart cannot be the solution in a democratic society.


The president will outline his immigration overhaul plan Nov. 20th at 5pm Pacific Time.  However, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox will not air the speech live, stating that the White House did not ask for time on their stations.  The speech may be available on the stations’ websites.  CNN and the Spanish Television Univision Network will air the announcement regarding Executive Action on Immigration live.


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