Archive | June, 2020

Long Beach to Allow Live Public Comments by Phone at City Council Meetings

13 Jun

The Long Beach City Council has faced past criticism for what some consider the Council’s lack of transparency, even before the pandemic.  After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, to some, it was only further evidence, the Long Beach City Council used the pandemic to further its lack of transparency.

James Suazo, a member of the Long Beach Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, in April, said, “There has often been a pattern in my opinion with the Long Beach City Council about ways that public comment…could be stifled or limited in some way and we’ve seen this with efforts to shift around public comment before actual Council discussion items on critical or controversial issues or we’ve seen it in efforts the City Council has done to streamline meetings and say let’s just limit public comment overall so we can get through the meeting and not be here so late.  So, we’re seeing… now the excuse of…the coronavirus pandemic as a way to justify this limiting of public comment, not just for the media and to have control over that and the narrative, but to also limit the critical voices that are needed in a democracy more than ever right now.”

“I think that when you consider the pattern the city has followed to try to limit public comment and you see, we see, the available technology that is out there that other municipalities even smaller that Long Beach are using that actually engage people, that actually allow for meaning dialogue to facilitate processes.  There is no reason or excuse why we are using a basic teleconference service that drops and limits people’s from engaging and for a city of our size, there is no reason we should be limiting ourselves to this kind of process. So, my only conclusion that I can draw from that is that it is intentional.”

However, even before the coronavirus hit, the Council faced criticism when new rules for public comment began in August 2019.

Jason Ruiz, in his Sept. 11, 2019 story for the Long Beach Post, quoted East Long Beach resident Corliss Lee, who said, “Their idea about streamlining…they’re streamlining for who? (T)hey’re streamlining for themselves.  They blabber on endlessly up there and yet they don’t want to hear from the public.”

Also, the Long Beach Post, Aug. 12, 2019, quoted the Long Beach Reform Coalition.  It said, “Members of the public often watch the proceedings seated in the chamber and find themselves moved, in the moment, by what they see and hear, to queue up and have their say.  The loss of this long-standing civic right will represent the further eroding of the democratic process in Long Beach.”

This brings us to now.

City Clerk Monique De La Garza announced in a press release of June 9, beginning Tuesday, June 16, the Long Beach City Council will allow on agenda items live public comments by phone at its meetings.

Up to 20 people will be allowed to speak.  If nine or less, wish to speak, each person will have three minutes.  With the existing rules, if there are 10 to 20 people, who wish to speak, each speaker after the ninth speaker will have 90 seconds to speak.

“Telephonic comments will also be allowed for the first 10 speakers, up to three minutes each, who sign up (with the City Clerk) for non-agenda items,” according to the press release.

James Suazo, after the press release was issued, said, “The city clerk’s press release about allowing public comment by telephone is a great first steps (sic) towards restoring basic democracy at city council meetings during the pandemic.”

People, wishing more information or wish to sign up for the June 16 meeting, may visit City Clerk website at

People wishing to continue using eComment option, may do so by clicking here,  Written comments may also be submitted by email to

Long Beach Mayor Announces New Fund Proposed for Small Businesses Affected by Sunday, May 31 Looting, Vandalism

9 Jun

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, by email on Monday, June 8, announced the city is proposing a new fund and initiative to support directly small businesses vandalism and looting affected on Sunday, May 31.
It said the city was “committed to ensuring every single business… impacted receives direct grant assistance from the city. It added, “Regardless of the impact, we (the city is) going to help” and the city was going to partner with local business associations and improvement districts on helping these small businesses with direct assistance, streamlined permitting and tax credits.

Stephanie Rivera of the Long Beach Post reported also on Monday, June 8, what is dubbed, “the Rebuild Long Beach grant program” will be discussed at the City Council’s June 16 meeting to determine how to direct city resources to affected businesses.

For more information readers may call 562-570-4BIZ or email

Hundreds Protest in Long Beach to Demand Defund the Police, Justice for George Floyd

6 Jun

Hundreds protested, chanted, rallied and heard speakers, on Friday, June 5, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park at 185 E. Third St., denouncing the Long Beach Police Department, calling to defund the police and for justice for the many killed by police nationally, particularly most recently George Floyd who died in custody while a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Poster, at BLM-LB protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

Black Lives Matter Long Beach with its community allies, according to BLM-LB Facebook, announced the protest.  The crowd was multi-ethnic, with many young people of color.

The park was filled to capacity with many people on the other side of Third Street.  Before the rally the crowd with their signs chanted: “Police, no Peace,” “Don’t Shoot,” “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe,”

Someone would call out, “Say his name” and in response the crowd would say, “George Floyd” and other times someone would call out, “Say her name and in response the crowd would say, “Breonna Taylor,” a 26-year-old emergency room technician killed in her home by Louisville police in the early morning hours of March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation.

Other times, the call would be, “Hands Up” and the crowd would respond with “Don’t Shoot” or the call would be, “What do we want?” and the crowd would respond with “Justice” or the call would be “No Justice” and the crowd would respond with “No Peace” or the call would be “No racist” and the crowd would respond “Police.”

Dawn Modkins, a leader of Black Lives Matter-Long Beach, emcees Friday, June 5, 2020, protest; photo by Barry Saks

The rally with speakers was emceed by Dawn Modkins, who characterized herself as a founder of BLM-LB.  Modkins said after seven years of responding to the killings by LBPD she was tired.  She said, “We want an end to the war on black people…We want to end white supremacy… We’re not just talking about in Georgia, we’re not just talking about in Minneapolis, we are talking about right here in the City of Long Beach.  We want to defund the police.”

She said divesting in police means cutting LBPD ties with the school district, but added it means investing in our children, in care, ethnic studies, ending zero tolerance, more black teachers, more academic counseling and tutoring and more school psychologists.

Modkins introduced Tahesha Christiansen.  Christiansen, who said she is a member of the Omaha tribe, and added the indigenous were standing in solidarity with BLM.

After Christiansen, Modkins spoke about the day, Fredrick Taft, 57 years-old, was murdered in the men’s bathroom in Pan American Park.  Modkins said Taft’s sister “saw a white man with a gun on his side” leaving the bathroom and added on benches in the park were the words, “KKK” and “Fuck Niggers.”  Modkins said the LBPD did not investigate the murder until after BLM-LB began its own investigation. 

Poster at BLM-LB Protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

According to news reports, Taft was shot Saturday, July 21, 2018, in the upper torso.  More than four months later, the Long Beach Press-Telegram of Nov. 28, 2018, reported the LBPD issued a sketch of the man who killed Taft.

Representatives of Anakbahan Long Beach, whose Facebook Page calls itself a progressive Filipino youth organization, and Gabriela South Bay, whose Facebook Page calls itself a grassroots organization of Filipinas, expressed their organizations’ solidarity with BLM-LB.

Porter Gilberg, Long Beach Citizen Complaint Police Commissioner, speaks, on Friday, June 5, 2020, to the crowd about the Long Beach CPCC.

Last to speak was Porter Gilberg, who is District 2 Commissioner of the Long Beach Citizen Police Complaint Commission.  Gilberg, who is the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, said the Commission is a farce; it is not an oversight body; it can only make recommendations.  He said the Commissioners do not make any decisions.  He said he was required to go on a ride-along with LBPD, where the police mis-gendered him.

After Gilberg spoke, the crowd chanting with their signs marched through the streets of Long Beach.

Poster at BLM-LB protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

No Long Beach Curfew Tonight

4 Jun

The City of Long Beach, in a press release on Thursday, June 4, announced no curfew will be in place tonight.

The press release said the decision whether to implement a curfew will continue to be evaluated daily.

City Manager Tom Modica said, “The decision to not implement a curfew today was based upon the recent pattern of peaceful actions by protesters, as well as the current situational awareness in Long Beach and throughout the region.”

“We are 100 percent committed to supporting everybody’s Constitutional rights, as well as protecting protesters, businesses, residents, families and our entire community.”

Long Beach to Reopen COVID-19 Testing Sites; Curfew Continues

3 Jun

After closing the city-run COVID-19 testing sites on June 1 and June 2 for the safety of the public and medical professionals, according to a press release of June 2, most sites will reopen Wednesday, June 3.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “We still have a health crisis in Long Beach and it’s critical that we get back to testing residents.”

The press release also announced the City of Long Beach is expanding the access to COVID-19 testing with a new mobile service for residents who can’t travel, including individuals at personal residences and those at skilled nursing and long-term facilities and sober-living homes.

Test sites to reopen with modified hours are: Long Beach City College – Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Cabrillo High School, 2001 Santa Fe Ave., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and, Jordan High School, 6500 Atlantic Ave., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Jordan Plus, 171 W. Bort St. and St. Mary Medical Center, 1050 Linden St. did not close and remain open. New appointments are required for all testing sites and can be made online at or by calling 562-570-4636.

Testing at Veterans Memorial Stadium remains closed until further notice.

The Rapid Assessment Clinic at LBCC PCC will also reopen June 3, with hours 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, in an email form Mayor Robert Garcia, June 3, the curfew will continue throughout Los Angeles County, for June 3, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.  However, the Mayor acknowledged the previous night was safe.

After a Night of Looting, Long Beach Residents Clean Up

1 Jun

After the peaceful protest across the street of the Long Beach Police Department in the afternoon the day before, followed by looting, Long Beach residents, on Monday, June 1, cleaned up the aftermath.

After looting the night before, Charlie Lee (right) and Adam Rhodes (left) clean, on Monday, June 1, a traffic signal on the southwest corner of Long Beach Boulevard and 4th Street; photo by Barry Saks

Long Beach Mayor Garcia, according to an email the same day from his office, estimated “thousands of residents” cleaned up and repaired the City and said, “We had no loss of life last night, no major injuries of police officers or firefighters, and only one major structure fire.”

On the corner of the Pacific Avenue and 4th Street cleaning up were Callie Black, 26, and her friend Lauren Clinton, who is also 26.

Black said, “We are here because we love this city, because this city is our home…. (W)e support the Black Lives Matter movement and we support this community.  We were out here marching yesterday with our neighbors and it was a beautiful, peaceful protest.  Everyone came together.  We saw no violence, just a shared common goal.”  Black added she thought some of the looters had their own agenda and had heard at the protest some white supremacists who were showing up and do the looting, “trying to make the movement look bad.”

Clinton said she was there cleaning up and viewed it as an extension of the protest.  She characterized herself and her friend Black as “vehemently supporting” BLM.

After the looting the night before, volunteers cleaning up the small business, Luxury Perfumes, 100 4th St., Long Beach, Calif.; photo by Barry Saks

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Amen Jhawar, who had been at the protest earlier, said about 5 p.m., he was walking his dog and witnessed, near 5th Street and the Promenade, looters using crowbars to break into some stores on 5th Street.

The Mayor, in the same email, also announced the City of Long Beach ordered a curfew at 1 p.m. in the business districts and 4 p.m. citywide, which would end in the morning.