Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Feb. 7. I’m Justin Ray.
On Feb. 13, thousands of people will descend upon Inglewood to see the nation’s biggest annual sporting event. The city, with a population of about 108,000 people, will grow substantially as sports fans flock to SoFi Stadium to see the Los Angeles Rams take on my hometown, the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
The entire city of L.A. looks to gain financially from the circus, but it’s a big moment specifically for Inglewood. The area that gave us music stars Becky G, Swae Lee and model turned TV host Tyra Banks will finally be on the national stage itself.
The area has seen a previous boom, but that was long ago. During the 1920s, Inglewood was an agricultural hub, and the nation’s fastest-growing city.
But there was a sinister side to Inglewood’s new prosperity. At the time, the Ku Klux Klan had a strong presence in Southern California, and Inglewood was one of its main stomping grounds. The Klan first emerged during the Civil War era, then had a revival in the 1920s partly because of Black northward migration.
It’s hard to imagine the area The Times in 2019 named as one of the “last black enclaves” in Los Angeles as Klanland, but that’s what it was. In fact, to keep it a white Protestant town, Klansmen posted signs that read “Caucasian-only.”
The group lost prominence in the state due to a brutal raid the KKK carried out on immigrant bootleggers. There are many details about it here, but I’m going to give you a quick version.
On April 22, 1922, more than 100 Klansmen came to the Inglewood home of Fidel and Angela Elduayer, Basque immigrants from Spain. On that cold night, they ransacked the house and beat Fidel and his brother. They also forced the couple’s two teenage daughters to disrobe (accounts from that time don’t say what happened, but we can imagine). Inglewood police arrived, bullets were fired, and a Klansman was killed.
A foe of the Klan, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Thomas Woolwine, launched an investigation, along with state and federal agents. This forced 150 reluctant Klansmen to testify about the incident.
Investigators from Woolwine’s office searched the Klan’s headquarters, located in the Haas building at 7th Street and Broadway in Los Angeles. They found robes and hoods, crosses, membership cards and dues receipts of several hundred Los Angeles, Kern and Orange County men who had paid $10 to join. Many of them were exposed as a result of the entire debacle.
But there’s more. A 1922 edition of The Times that I found through a service I have through my library card includes a quote from then-Sheriff William Traeger about the raid.
“I regret that in Los Angeles county, in this day of civilization, that any number of men should bind themselves together for the purpose of committing an affront to law, order and decency, such as occurred at Inglewood,” Traeger said. “If I can ascertain that any peace officer, over whom I have control, is a member of a secret organization, which countenances such procedure, or is present at any meeting at which such conduct is planned, and still retains his membership, I shall dismiss him immediately from public service.”
It should be noted that Woolwine’s crackdown on the Klan in L.A. County uncovered the fact that Sheriff Traeger and L.A. Police Chief Louis D. Oaks had themselves been KKK members. Both claimed that they had resigned from the organization.
The raid eventually led to the group being outlawed in California, The Times reported in 1949.
From the KKK to skinheads, a century of fighting hate in Orange County. The area is still more Republican and conservative than California as a whole — supporting local and national candidates who oppose COVID-19 health orders, for instance — though it is far from the political monolith it used to be. But it’s home to some fringe groups with extreme views that have damaged the county’s overall reputation.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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The Silicon Valley suburb of Woodside has come up with a novel way to block plans that would potentially bring in more affordable housing: Declare itself inhabited by mountain lions. Los Angeles Times
Outlining how health and safety rules could be loosened as the coronavirus’ Omicron variant continues to wane, Los Angeles County officials said Thursday that face coverings may no longer be required in certain outdoor settings once COVID-19 hospitalizations drop, and indoor mask rules could be loosened after further gains. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Knock LA reports that in June 2016, senior aides at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office used their private email accounts to suggest “proactively” leaking information to the media on the Department of Water and Power billing scandal. The outlet claims the mayor’s staffers wanted to shape the narrative through journalists. The scandal involves an employee of a consulting firm who allegedly used money from a DWP contract to pay for prostitutes and parties in Las Vegas. Knock LA
How oil lobbyists continue to exert influence on California regulators and lawmakers. While California leaders hail the state’s progress on reducing emissions, emails obtained by Capital & Main show that the oil and gas industry continues to exert influence over critical climate policy. An email exchange from last spring “confirms that the industry was able to win a subtle but significant change to a bill that would have codified California’s 2045 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal into law before it even went to a committee hearing.” Capital & Main
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the SoFi Stadium violent altercation that left a San Francisco 49ers fan in a medically induced coma, officials said. The suspect’s name has not been released. The fan, 40-year-old Daniel Luna, was hospitalized after he was found bleeding in the stadium parking lot about half an hour into the Rams-49ers showdown last Sunday. Los Angeles Times
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Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ interview before resigning as California’s first surgeon general. The state’s top physician, whose last day will be Feb. 11, spoke to KCRA a week before announcing her resignation and mentioned some of the problems that may have been weighing on her. “My biggest challenge is that there are never enough hours in the day. I’m working as state surgeon general during a pandemic. I’m also a mom — my husband and I have four boys,” she told KCRA
In rural California, the unvaccinated and ill overwhelm hospital staff. “This is not ideal for us,” said emergency room Dr. Leroy Pascal. Los Angeles Times
Column: Extremists are set to take over this California county. Will more of the state be next? “When conservatives fight one another over God and country, my general reaction is — have at it, and where’s the popcorn,” Times columnist Anita Chabria writes. “But the recent recall election in Shasta County that pitted a Republican ex-police chief against a far-right faction backed by a local militia is different. It’s a wake-up call ahead of the 2022 midterms that elections can go very wrong, even in liberal California.” Los Angeles Times
The industry helping workers avoid vaccine mandates. Through public records requests, The Times amassed more than 2,200 pages of emails, letters and other records related to religious waivers from vaccine rules. The documents show just how complicated it can be to review vaccine exemption requests. They also reveal a cottage industry that has sprung up to help people justify decisions to refuse vaccination. Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles: Sunny 78 San Diego: Sunny 74 San Francisco: Sunny 63 San Jose: Sunny 70 Fresno: Sunny 71 Sacramento: Sunny 68. Perfect 10!
Also, I recently asked readers for the music they listen to when they want some nostalgia in their lives. Here is a response from Clark James Mishler:
When I grew up in a Detroit suburb in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Los Angeles might as well have been a million miles away. But when I was 20, the mailman delivered a ticket to another universe. The Los Angeles Arts Center had accepted me. It was late August, ‘68 when my friend, Bill Brenner, and I headed west in our new “drive-away” Dodge Charger. We didn’t have a clue about what to expect but we knew we’d never be the same. High in the mountains west of Denver, the sun was setting as we searched the radio for any station with a detectable signal. As we approached the top of a ridge a crystal clear voice introduced the newest song by the Beatles. Neither of us had heard the song so we pulled over, turned off the engine and, while sitting in the twilight, listened to the entire seven minutes and eleven seconds of “Hey Jude.” When two suburban kids rolled into Los Angeles the next evening the change had begun. We may not have had the script to the future but at least we had a soundtrack.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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