LOS ANGELES - A group of South Los Angeles residents impacted by the June 30 LAPD explosion took to the streets to protest Monday. The residents are calling on Mayor Eric Garcetti to take action.
The explosion happened on June 30 on 27th street. According to LAPD, bomb squad personnel, attempting to safely detonate confiscated fireworks they deemed too dangerous to transport away from the area, decided to detonate them in a specialized container meant to handle as much as 25 lbs. of explosives.
Doing a visual assessment, they thought they were putting about 16 pounds of material in the container. ATF investigators, using samples from the debris field after the explosion and actually weighing them on scales, estimated that the amount in the container was more like – 42 lbs.
"There still isn't justice and for us and the families, they've determined justice means full compensation," said Francisco Romero of South Central Resistance Committee.
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Romero said the families are receiving hotel vouchers due to their homes being severely damaged, but the vouchers are set to expire on September 1.
"In two weeks, they don't know what's going to happen. That's terrifying not knowing where they'll live after September 1st," he said.
The group of community members and residents marched from LAPD headquarters downtown Monday to City Hall. They slipped a letter signed by residents under City Hall's doors after hours, hoping it will reach Mayor Eric Garcetti Tuesday.
The letter states, in part, "as you know on June 30, the LAPD and the Bomb Squad decided to detonate fireworks on 27th Street near San Pedro Street in South Central Los Angeles. They did so without evacuating us. Dozens of people were injured, two elderly men have died in connection to the explosion and it also caused millions of dollars in damages. Many of our community members suffer from headaches, hearing problems and many children are still traumatized because of the explosion. We are convinced that under no circumstance would the LAPD have taken that action if we lived in an affluent part of town like Hancock Park, Brentwood, or Westwood."
The letter also includes the following list of demands:
- Fix our homes now! We want to move back into our homes.
- Release the names of the LAPD officers who ordered the detonation of the explosives in our neighborhood.
- Immediate financial assistance for everyone who was affected including home owners, renters, and business owners.
- For those of us staying at Level Los Angeles, we want full access to all hotel facilities including the pool and gym. We do not want to be treated like 2nd class citizens.
- We want a written guarantee from the city of Los Angeles that you will continue to pay for our housing until the city repairs our homes and it is safe for us to return.
Kitty Rodriguez, a resident of 27th Street, spoke at the protest about the trauma she's experienced along with her elderly mother.
"When the explosion happened, there was a big impact that pushed us around. I fell and hurt my back and my neck. I still can't move my neck at times and I have ringing in my ears," she said, in Spanish.
Rodriguez said her mother was also injured, and both of them had flashbacks of their home country, El Salvador, following the explosion.
"It is frustrating because I come from a country where there was a war and therefore, the impact of the explosion brought me back to that, and it affected me a lot mentally. We are now in a community of Hispanic people. Why would they do this in the middle of a neighborhood where there are a lot of people, and older people," she said.
The group is hoping city leaders will now take action.
"We'll take the spectrum of justice, firings, lawsuits, court, and if there are criminal charges filed against the officers, the families would support that," said Romero.