Newsletter: Juneteenth, further reopening and more in the week ahead

A group of dancers performs during the All Black Lives Matter March in West Hollywood.
A group of dancers with Miss Shalae performs on the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards during the All Black Lives Matter March in West Hollywood.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, June 15, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to release an order list on Monday and could also be releasing opinions on any number of high-profile cases awaiting decisions. Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are anxiously preparing for a potential ruling on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is expected to come sometime this month.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on police use of force that’s likely to generate headlines. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on police brutality in Congress’s other chamber that included testimony from George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd.

Friday is Juneteenth — America’s other Independence Day. The annual holiday — a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth” — commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. It marks the June 19, 1865, anniversary of the last enslaved African Americans in Texas learning they were liberated, almost 2½ years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves.

Recognizing the holiday, as my colleague Angel Jennings wrote a few years ago, “remains a longtime tradition for many Black Americans,” but Juneteenth has never been afforded official recognition as a federal holiday. Despite its place in Black culture, the holiday’s history “has been marginalized and still remains largely unknown to the wider public,” as the National Museum of African American History and Culture notes on its website.


That will probably be different this year, as Juneteenth comes amid a national reckoning on racism in America and weeks of protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other Black men and women. A number of big corporations including Nike, Twitter and the NFL have already announced that they will give employees a day off for Juneteenth for the first time this year.

Also Friday: Nail salons, tattoo shops and massage therapists will be able to reopen in some California counties, as announced last week by state officials. Each county will have to green-light the businesses to open within its jurisdiction, and the establishments will be required to follow detailed guidelines issued by the state.

Saturday is the summer solstice, marking the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.

Also Saturday: President Trump will hold his first campaign rally in months in Tulsa, Okla. The rally was originally scheduled for Friday but was pushed a day after many said it was offensive to hold a campaign rally on Juneteenth in a city that was the site of an infamous 1921 massacre of Black residents.

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

LAPD violence at George Floyd protests erodes a decade of reforms: May Day 2007 began peacefully in Los Angeles. It ended as another dark, violent chapter for the city’s Police Department. The city ended up paying out more than $30 million to those hurt and once again agreed to changes designed to prevent such violence from happening again. In the years that followed, as large demonstrations and marches went off without major upheaval, the LAPD’s reputation for brutality gave way to imperfect but undeniable progress. Allegations of heavy-handed police tactics at protests still sometimes arose, but the department appeared to have put itself on a new path. Then came the mass protests after the killing last month of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Los Angeles Times

In two incidents, young Black men were found hanging from trees weeks apart in Palmdale and Victorville. Thousands of demonstrators converged outside Palmdale City Hall on Saturday to demand answers in Robert Fuller’s death, which authorities had initially called a suicide. Fuller’s family and civic leaders quickly pushed back, insisting that it be investigated as a homicide and demanding an independent probe and autopsy, something the city also has requested. Two state officials have joined a Los Angeles County supervisor in calling on California Atty. Gen. Xavier Beccera to investigate Fuller’s death.


Meanwhile, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has said that foul play was not suspected in the death of Malcolm Harsch, who was found hanging from a tree near the Victorville City Library two weeks ago, but the department told a local news outlet that the investigation remains ongoing. Harsch’s family have said they find it hard to accept that his death was a suicide. Los Angeles Times


Airline passengers brought COVID-19 into LAX in March — and no one warned the public. Two long-haul flights into Los Angeles International Airport in March each included a person who later was found to have COVID-19, and public health officials failed to alert passengers and crew who had flown with them, a Times investigation has found. Los Angeles Times

Vernon — an industrial powerhouse in southeast L.A. County — has about as many coronavirus cases as residents. The city is home to just about 200 residents and almost 2,000 businesses. Most workers commute from other working-class, primarily Latino cities, where there is now growing concern that the Vernon outbreaks will spread to other communities. Los Angeles Times

L.A. County says museums can reopen. Museums say: Mmm, not so fast. Los Angeles Times

The Broad’s familiar standby admission line, before the coronavirus. The museum is aiming for a midsummer reopening.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of “All Black Lives Matter” demonstrators converged on Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday, denouncing racial injustice and supporting LGBTQ rights, before marching on to West Hollywood. Protests continued nationwide, including one in San Francisco that shut down all westbound traffic on the Bay Bridge. Los Angeles Times


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Republican allies of President Trump clashed Sunday with Democratic lawmakers over police-reform legislation expected to be a focal point this week in both the House and the Senate. Los Angeles Times

California’s gas tax is going up again. For the third time in four years, the state’s gas tax is set to increase. But some lawmakers are calling for a freeze on the higher levy, citing the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Los Angeles Times

“Devin Nunes’ cow” remains masked: Rep. Devin Nunes’ attorney said he’s at “dead end” in his quest to reveal the identity of the anonymous Twitter account masquerading as the Central Valley congressman’s cow. Fresno Bee


Three major police unions in California unveiled a proposed plan for reform aimed at holding officers accountable for their actions with community members and “root[ing] out any racist individual” from their ranks. San Francisco Chronicle


Californians, are you now free to move about the state? Official signals on tourism conflict. Los Angeles Times


Diary of a recovery: One San Diego block begins to climb back from the pandemic. San Diego Union-Tribune

Black women are crafting a culinary movement in the Antelope Valley. Two Black-owned comfort food restaurants in Lancaster speak to the changing demographics — and dining needs — of L.A.’s far-flung suburbs. Eater LA

A solo paddler kayaked the entire Sacramento River, 350 miles from Redding to the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco Chronicle

Sacramento’s bar scene crawls back to life — with changes. “Pent-up partiers didn’t flood Sacramento streets on Friday, the first night bars without food service could reopen... The nightlife scene was more like tide pools, vibrant little ecosystems scattered across blocks of the city’s core.” Sacramento Bee

A poem to start your week: “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” by Emily Dickinson. Poetry Foundation

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Los Angeles: sunny, 80. San Diego: partly sunny, 71. San Francisco: windy, 64. San Jose: windy, 75. Fresno: sunny, 91. Sacramento: partly sunny, 84. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Rep. Scott Peters (June 17, 1958), rapper Kendrick Lamar (June 17, 1987), tennis player Venus Williams (June 17, 1980), Rep. Jerry McNerney (June 18, 1951), Rep. Pete Aguilar (June 19, 1979) and former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (June 21, 1947).

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.