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Newsletter: This time, the LAPD faces cutbacks

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. I’m Christopher Goffard, filling in for Julia Wick. It’s Friday, June 5, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Amid widespread protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota police custody, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he will direct $250 million to jobs programs and health initiatives to serve communities of color. Some $150 million of that money is expected to be cut from the Police Department.

It’s a striking reversal for Garcetti, who, before the unrest, proposed a 7% spending increase for the department and said L.A. had relatively few officers for a city of its size. And it’s a break with decades of conventional thinking that a better-funded LAPD equals a safer city.

For years, Democratic and Republican mayors have pushed to expand the LAPD to 10,000 sworn officers, with proponents of “community-oriented” policing saying more officers made that approach possible.

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The City Council will have to approve Garcetti’s proposed cuts to the LAPD’s $1.8-billion budget. L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez says cutting police funding is an effort “to slowly dismantle those systems that are designed to harm people of color.” The police chief expressed “some concern,” while a police union representative excoriated Garcetti and other political leaders for “hypocritical and political doublespeak of the highest order.”

[Read “Previous mayors pushed to expand the LAPD. Garcetti now seeks to slash its budget” in the Los Angeles Times]

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti puts his hands together in a gesture of prayer with protesters and clergy in downtown Los Angeles.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti with protesters and clergy members demonstrating in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

As protests continue, Times staff writer Mark Z. Barabak examines the parallels between the year 2020 and another tumultuous election year, 52 years ago.

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In 1968, the Vietnam War roiled the country. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Chicago cops attacked demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention. And Richard Nixon won the White House — crushing opponent Hubert Humphrey in the electoral college — after vowing to quell the unrest, his rhetoric echoed in President Trump’s description of himself as “your president of law and order.”

[Read “Racism, unrest, police brutality. Is America living 1968 all over again? Yes, and no” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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L.A. STORIES

Curfews lifted: As protests continue across Southern California, Los Angeles County has revoked a nighttime curfew. The county’s cancellation of its order came amid growing pressure to lift curfews that were imposed over the weekend and have continued for days in the region. Los Angeles Times

With the spectacle of looting in the news, Times reporters talked to some looters and asked them to explain themselves. Los Angeles Times

The UCLA chancellor decries the use of Jackie Robinson Stadium to process arrested protesters. Los Angeles Times

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

According to a poll of Californians, most likely voters approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus crisis — and continue to fear they will contract the virus. Los Angeles Times

President Trump appears increasingly isolated and beleaguered. Polls show him trailing Joe Biden in major battleground states. Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

A grisly scene. A 90-year-old woman is dead in Contra Costa County, and her grandson is in custody. San Francisco Chronicle

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Since Saturday, many of L.A. County’s government-run testing sites have been shut down amid massive protests and curfews, potentially exacerbating the spread of COVID-19. Los Angeles Times

A health worker directs traffic at the drive-through coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium
A health worker directs traffic last week at the drive-through coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium, which has remained open since Monday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The dangers of keeping schools closed. According to an organization of pediatricians, the benefits of reopening the classroom may outweigh the risks of COVID-19 transmission among children. Los Angeles Times

How many people in L.A. actually have the coronavirus? Here’s why health officials still don’t know. A study estimates that fewer people have had the coronavirus in L.A. County than originally thought, downgrading the percentage from 4.1% to 2.1%. What to make of the changes is the subject of much debate. Los Angeles Times

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SPORTS

The NBA’s board of governors voted to approve a plan to reopen the courts, with games tentatively scheduled to start in late July. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Despite complications and curfews, San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral uses art to commemorate George Floyd. Los Angeles Times

Yosemite is opening to backpackers. The park has been closed since late March. Modesto Bee

Many California hotels remain closed, and air travel is way down, but RV rentals are soaring. SF Gate

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Vegas is back, and this is what it looks like. Los Angeles Times

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 73. San Diego: partly cloudy, 71. San Francisco: cloudy, 61. San Jose: mostly sunny, 73. Fresno: partly cloudy, 91. Sacramento: sunny, 82. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Joan Hastings:

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Born and raised in Boston, I moved to L.A. after college and the city welcomed me with open arms. In no time, I made great friends, got a great job, and met my husband. One of my fondest memories is my 30th birthday when eight of us went on the Sunset Horseback Fiesta Tour. Escorted by a tour guide, we trotted along the edge of the Hollywood Hills, overlooking the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory. Amazing! Halfway through we pulled up to a Mexican restaurant, roped our horses to a rail, and enjoyed a delicious meal.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.


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