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Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: A year after George Floyd

A man kneels in the street and holds his fist up.
Participants in a George Floyd memorial march and rally on Tuesday occupy the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street to stop traffic in Hollywood.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 29.

A quick programming note: This newsletter will be off Monday for the holiday and back in your inbox Tuesday morning. Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Remembering George Floyd. Communities across California and the country marked the somber anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, which unleashed a reckoning with policing and racism nationwide.

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— Los Angeles activists took to the streets just after Floyd’s murder. A year later, they’re fighting to keep change going.

— The Black Lives Matter movement achieved mainstream recognition. Now it faces the challenge of how to move beyond recognition toward concrete solutions in Washington.

— L.A. cut millions from the LAPD’s budget after Floyd’s death. City leaders on Tuesday finalized their plan for reallocating that money, but they’ve also boosted the police budget again.

San Jose shooting. In California’s largest mass shooting this year, a man opened fire at a San Jose light rail yard Wednesday, killing nine people and then himself. As families mourn the victims, authorities are trying to understand why the gunman, a maintenance worker there, carried out the attack, and say they found 12 guns and 25,000 rounds of ammunition in his home.

Kevin Cooper conviction probe. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered a comprehensive, independent investigation into the case of Kevin Cooper, whose high-profile quadruple-murder conviction in 1985 has been under intense scrutiny for years.

Who’s to blame for power outages? The state is bracing for a difficult summer, and that could spell trouble for Newsom, who will appear on a recall ballot during another hot and dry season.

Offshore wind plan. The federal government plans to open more than 250,000 acres off the California coast to wind development as part of the Biden administration’s effort to ramp up the nation’s renewable energy.

Pushing for instate. As the University of California faces huge demand for seats, state lawmakers want to slash the share of out-of-state and international students to make room for more local residents.

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Scientology’s secrets. As the sexual assault case against actor Danny Masterson moves forward, the insular Church of Scientology is finding its practices under rare public scrutiny in court.

Freeway shootings. An Anaheim man was charged with three counts of attempted murder Friday in connection with a BB gun shooting on the 91 Freeway, amid a rash of such shootings. It’s not clear if he was involved in other attacks. In another freeway shooting with a more tragic end, a suspect car was identified in a road-rage attack that killed a 6-year-old.

‘Adrian’s kickback.’ More than 175 people were arrested in Huntington Beach over the weekend after a TikTok video inviting people to a user’s birthday party went viral and the city was overrun with unruly revelers.

School as usual. Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Austin Beutner on Monday committed to reopening campuses full time on a normal schedule in the fall.

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But will vaccines catch up? Despite the overall progress, vast gulfs in inoculation rates have opened among California’s 58 counties, illustrating the state’s uneven pace toward community immunity. State officials on Thursday announced what appears to be the largest inoculation incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.

Gas tax to rise. Four years after the state Legislature boosted the gas tax in order to fix California’s crumbling roads and bridges, officials say they can complete less than half of the work needed and it needs to rise again.

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1. Scientology’s secrets spill into the open in Danny Masterson rape case. Los Angeles Times

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2. The Queen Mary, an iconic California hotel and attraction, is in danger of capsizing. SFGATE

3. How to convince someone to get the vaccine. Los Angeles Times

4. This man has more than 10,000 pieces of Palm Springs pop culture history scattered throughout his home and storage units. Desert Sun

5. Major Bay Area art festival in Sausalito has been canceled over a homeless camp controversy. Marin Independent Journal

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Inside TikTok’s incubator for Black creators. Many Black users felt ignored by the app’s algorithm and targeted by its moderation rules as the country reckoned with George Floyd’s murder last year. In response, the company offered a new program. Here’s how the first few months went. Los Angeles Times

A Lincoln Heights outdoor night market thrives as L.A. recovers from COVID-19’s devastation. What was a handful of small retailers last year in an alley-like street has boomed into a full-fledged night market replete with opportunity, competition and a sense of community during the pandemic. Los Angeles Times

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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