EASTSIDE : $25,000 Raised for Riot Beating Victim

A benefit in Commerce last weekend raised more than $25,000, with checks and other offers continuing to arrive, in the renewed effort to help riot victim Fidel Lopez.

Workers at El Centro Substance Abuse Program have fielded calls and opened 450 pieces of mail for Lopez, whose plight was recently featured on ABC's "20/20." Members of the Eastside business community vowed to help Lopez pay for medical bills and get his house out of foreclosure.

Lopez, 48, was pulled from his truck at Florence and Normandie avenues last year and beaten unconscious. Videotapes used in the recent trial of Damian Monroe Williams showed a fallen Lopez, his pants pulled down and an assailant spray-painting his genitals.

Williams, 20, was convicted of simple assault in the attack.

More than 100 attended a Nov. 20 fund-raising dinner at Stevens Steakhouse, where mariachis and other musicians entertained and the $25 ticket price went to Lopez, said organizer Jaime Pina, who with his wife, Sandy, has helped bring Lopez's problems to the public's attention.

"People were walking up to him, and I guess they felt a need to touch him, talk to him and wish him luck," Jaime Pina said.

Among the donors were the Latino Peace Officers Assn., which chipped in $400, and a Torrance woman who offered to hire Lopez for light construction work around her home.

Pina also said a man has offered Lopez a new set of tools, which were taken during the attack.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has agreed to treat Lopez for head injuries sustained in the riots, said spokesman Ron Wise.

"It was brought to our attention that he had a lot of medical needs and had no way of getting this care on his own," Wise said. "He was one of the riot victims who sort of fell through the cracks."

Lopez was overwhelmed that so many people offered to help him, and he was accepting some offers of work, Pina said.

Lopez could not be reached for comment.

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