‘Sickening racial hatred and easy access to firearms’: California reacts to Buffalo shooting
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, May 16. I’m Justin Ray.
It was a strange day. Like many people in Los Angeles County, I woke up Saturday morning and Googled Chevy Chase Canyon, after a pair of bizarre alerts sent to scores of smartphones in the area. Then, I received news of the tragedy that would captivate the country.
Ten people in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y., were shot and killed while at a grocery store. The neighborhood was not picked at random; the white suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, N.Y., about 230 miles from Buffalo, researched its demographics while looking for places with a high concentration of Black residents.
There also were two shootings in California that made headlines this past weekend. One person was killed and five others were wounded Sunday after a gunman opened fire on a Taiwanese church congregation in Laguna Woods. Authorities said the group of churchgoers “hog-tied” the shooter’s leg with an extension cord and took two weapons from the suspect. He was later detained. A law enforcement source said officials believe the suspect was a 68-year-old man who is originally from Las Vegas.
On Saturday, a man was killed outside Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. The gunman has not yet been arrested. In a statement posted to Instagram, market officials said that the “isolated incident” occurred on neighboring Hill Street. However, the market “will be tightening security and proactively working with proper authorities to further assess the situation.”
Many on social media were quick to point out that last week, a federal appeals court ruled that California’s ban on selling semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21 violates the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense. The gunman reportedly used a high-powered rifle to carry out the attack.
One of the most impactful responses I have seen came from columnist Erika D. Smith. She explained how the shooter’s manifesto contained references to the so-called “great replacement” theory — the idea that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of color. “In many ways, this truly ugly conspiracy theory has some roots right here in the Golden State of the 1990s,” Smith explained. (Times columnist Jean Guerrero previously pointed out the theory’s link to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.)
Prominent California politicians have also spoken out.
“An attack by a home grown terrorist, fueled by sickening racial hatred and easy access to firearms,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted. “Charleston. Atlanta. Pittsburgh. Poway. Now, Buffalo. America must get serious about fighting domestic terror. We can’t accept this.”
“Today, another community was shattered by the horrors of gun violence. We must never stop fighting to stop the bloodshed — because enough is enough,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) tweeted.
“This horrific act of hate-fueled gun violence is unconscionable. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and the entire Buffalo community. We must do better, America,” Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta tweeted.
Times reporters Nolan D. McCaskill and Connor Sheets talked to residents about how the tragedy has affected the community: “We’ve heard it from our parents and our grandparents that this is our legacy, our legacy of survival, our legacy of being abused and brutalized.”
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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In California’s high-risk fire country, Airbnb offers guests no warning or escape plan. Across the state, thousands of short-term Airbnb rentals operate in the most hazardous fire zones, but the company does not provide warnings or evacuation information to guests when they make a reservation, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found. Los Angeles Times
Why did Bru McCoy leave USC? Court filings offer some answers. “Effective immediately,” an email from USC read, “you are barred from the University.” The Times reviewed hundreds of pages of court filings to find out the circumstances that led to the former five-star Mater Dei receiver being arrested following an alleged incident with his ex-girlfriend, and how the university handled it. (McCoy has denied the allegations, and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to file charges.) Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Capital and Main has a new series about the tendency of big business and elected officials to deny Americans extra pay for extra work. “Tens of millions of Americans who work more than 40 hours don’t qualify for overtime. Some don’t receive it because they work in one of the numerous occupations — such as farm work and teaching — that have long been exempt due to industry lobbying and political compromise,” Marcus Baram writes. Capital and Main
San Diego is planning key changes this fall to how the city regulates cannabis, including a new effort to help people of color break into the business, and the first increase since 2014 in the number of dispensaries allowed within the city. Officials say it’s time for San Diego to catch up with nearly all of California’s other large cities by establishing a state-subsidized cannabis equity program. San Diego Union-Tribune
Hearing threats to Roe vs. Wade, I thought of my gay marriage — and Jim Obergefell’s fight. “Like President Biden, many legal scholars and LGBTQ+ activists across the country, I worried that the same legal arguments used to topple Roe would be redeployed by anti-gay factions in this country to go after the right to same-sex marriage that was established in Jim’s case, Obergefell vs. Hodges, in 2015,” writes Times reporter Kevin Rector. Los Angeles Times
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING
The uncle and grandfather of a 3-year-old San Jose girl were arrested in connection with an “exorcism” that killed her last fall. Los Angeles Times
An unsolved murder haunts family. A triple murder four years ago on Mother’s Day still torments a Stockton family. Joe Lor, 22, his wife, Gina Xiong, 22, and their 5-year-old daughter, Kayleen Lor, died after bullets pierced their apartment. Two other victims were injured in the shooting. “Since this happened on Mother’s Day, we never see Mother’s Day the same anymore,” Chang, Joe Lor’s brother, said. “We’ve been grieving for so long.” ABC 10
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Bay Area health officers are urging the public to take precautions as COVID levels rise. “The Bay Area now has California’s highest COVID infection rates,” a note endorsed by 12 Bay Area health officers reads. “Although not required, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most public indoor settings, and health officials say wearing higher-quality masks.” Sonoma County Administrator’s Office
‘Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Californians, please go home.’ The slender nation on the Atlantic has attracted — and even advertised to — Americans who are packing up. Californians are making themselves known in a country once considered the forgotten sibling of Spain. Los Angeles Times
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Correction: Many careful readers of this newsletter noticed that Thursday’s edition misstated city and county populations in California. I misread a chart, sorry about that, and thank you for pointing that out.
Los Angeles: Sunny 75 San Diego: Overcast 67 San Francisco: Cloudy 62 San Jose: Overcast 71 Fresno: Sunny 89 Sacramento: Overcast 85
Today’s California memory is from Betty Thomas:
In March 1944, my mother took my sister and me on the bus to San Diego to say goodbye to my brother as he was shipping out for overseas. An old lady, a friend of my brother’s, let us stay for our 2-week visit in her cabin close to the bay. I fell in love with California and begged my mother to send for another brother and just move there and forget Texas. We didn’t but that memory is still so beautiful to me.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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