Essential California Week in Review: New salt, old wounds

A sign with George Floyd's image and the words "Black Lives Matter" is raised amid a crowd of protesters at L.A. City Hall
Protesters rally outside Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 6.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Protests swell. Demonstrations and unrest began last weekend and continued throughout the week and throughout the state. In Los Angeles, the unrest revived memories of the 1992 uprising, after four police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King, and of the Watts riots of 1965.

Some things have changed. Though it might feel like California is reliving its past, this time is different in key ways, too. For one: South L.A. was hit hard in 1992, but this time around it’s been spared — on purpose.

Thousands of people turn out. Protesters spanned all ages, races, ethnicities, backgrounds and communities and were fueled by anger at needless death and at inequality laid bare by the pandemic.

Violence and looting. Among overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations, there was also violence and some looting. Some business owners criticized police for failing to protect their businesses, while some Latino neighborhoods took matters into their own hands.

Police violence on video. Some of that violence came from police themselves. Videos from the demonstrations show LAPD officers and L.A. County sheriff’s deputies using Tasers, beating protesters and driving a police vehicle at them.

Record arrests. By Tuesday, police had arrested nearly 3,000 people in Southern California. Arrest numbers grew so large that police set up a processing center at Jackie Robinson Stadium, drawing condemnation from UCLA.

Military threat. President Trump responded to the unrest by declaring himself a “president of law and order” and threatening to send “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would push back.

Curfews start, then end. Los Angeles spent much of the week under curfews. After confusion and hundreds of arrests for breaking them, the rules were lifted Thursday.

Budget cuts. Weeks after proposing a budget that included a 7% spending boost for the LAPD, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would direct $250 million to specifically address structural racism, with as much as $150 million of it coming from the police budget. It’s a departure from a decades-long City Hall commitment to LAPD expansion.

A push for action. State and local lawmakers are still pushing for other kinds of action, including limits on the use of rubber bullets. On Friday, Newsom called for new restrictions on crowd control techniques and the use of force by law enforcement.

Testing centers closed. Because of the protests, L.A. closed coronavirus testing centers. But the pandemic hasn’t gone away, and experts worry that any drop in testing could have dire consequences, especially when the true spread still remains unclear.

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This week’s most-clicked stories in Essential California

1. “We’ve got no other way of showing people how angry we are”: Looters who hit L.A. stores explain what they did. Los Angeles Times


2. USC cuts ties with prominent booster who tweeted protesters and looters “should be shot.” Los Angeles Times

3. Inside Kylie Jenner’s web of lies — and why she’s no longer a billionaire. Forbes

4. San Francisco and Silicon Valley rents plunge amid downturn: “Never seen anything like it.” San Francisco Chronicle

5. Richmond man caught cannibalizing 90-year-old grandmother, police say. San Francisco Chronicle

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

“Everybody will second-guess.” For Democratic mayors across the country, the unrest in their streets is testing their campaign promises and principles.New York Times

South L.A. has been largely untouched by unrest. That is by design. Los Angeles Times


After 18 years behind bars, an innocent man savors quarantine. Kevin Harrington had been serving a life sentence for murder when a judge exonerated him April 21, setting him free into a world drastically altered by the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times

Think the Civil War was ancient history? Think again. The last American to collect a Civil War pension died less than a week ago. Irene Triplett was 90. Washington Post

Poem of the week: “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats. Poetry Foundation

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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)