Board Makes Further Investments in Violence Prevention and Resources to Support Communities Impacted by Trauma

Recently, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas read in two comprehensive motions, for action at the September 29th Board meeting, that will further disrupt violence by implementing the Office of Violence Prevention’s (OVP) strategic plan as well as reinforce the Family Assistance Program (FAP) for families who have lost loved-ones to deputy-involved shootings. These two actions of community investment and well-being come amid an unprecedented increase in local tensions in the recent deaths of Andres Guardado and Dijon Kizzee.

“Violence begets violence. If we want to break the cycle, we must provide a compassionate response to families impacted by violence and equip our communities with the tools needed to recognize and deescalate violence before it occurs,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The residents of Los Angeles County deserve a coordinated and community-led response to incidences of violence that too frequently take place. I am proud that we are continuing the diligent hard work that is necessary to make an impact in this important area of incredible consequence.”

Implementing the Office of Violence Prevention’s Strategic Plan and Creating a Coordinated Community-Based Crisis Response System

Recently, there has been a growing public demand for an equitable response to violence prevention and interventions that address the systematic biases and inequities that cause disproportionate health, economic and socio-cultural impacts. In this motion, authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the Board is working toward implementation of a coordinated and community-led response to incidences of violence or crisis, such as homicides, shootings, and sexual and domestic assault.

• Ensuring the Long-term Viability of the Family Assistance Program

The FAP was created by the Board of Supervisors upon the recommendation of the Civilian Oversight Commission in response to community concerns about the treatment of families who have lost loved-ones at the hands of the Sheriff’s Department. This program works to counteract the trauma of loss that is compounded by a lack of clear communication. Among the key elements of the FAP is the employment of “advocates” to be present during next-of-kin notifications to provide crisis intervention and grief counseling, as well as to serve as liaisons between the Sheriff’s Department and other County departments as needed. This motion seeks to reinforce this valuable community resource so that it is available in the future for impacted families in their critical moment of need.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Urges NACO and CSAC to Oppose the Presidential Memorandum Excluding Non-Citizens from Census Allotment

As local government agencies assess the magnitude of the detriment that could be caused by the recent Presidential Memorandum by the Trump administration, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urges the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) to take action.

“While this memorandum from the Executive Branch is not surprising, it’s nevertheless a reckless attack on immigrant communities throughout the country, in particular, Los Angeles County, and on this nation’s democratic system. The action seeks to circumvent the unequivocal ruling of the highest court in the nation, said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “I cannot sit idle in this attempt to undercount communities of color that are already disproportionately underserved. Racism and xenophobia are at the heart of this memorandum and it must not be allowed to stand.”

In his recent letters, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged both organizations to take action to oppose the Presidential Memorandum excluding non-citizens from the apportionment base following 2020 United States Census.

“The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs champions the County’s commitment to provide support services to all its residents,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “Every person must be counted in the 2020 Census for the County to receive its fair share of federal funds to provide its residents with much-needed services like health care, education, and good roads.”

On July 21, 2020 the Trump Administration issued a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce titled “Memorandum on Excluding Illegal Aliens from the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census.” It is the latest in anti-immigrant action by the Executive Branch.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration attempted to insert a citizenship question in the United States (U.S.) Census (Census). This effort was defeated when, Attorney General Becerra and his coalition, which included Los Angeles County, secured a victory in their lawsuit to oppose the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The district court ruled that the citizenship question was unconstitutional and unlawful. On June 28, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion deciding the legal challenge brought by many states on this issue.

As a result, on August 1, 2019, the district court entered final judgment permanently enjoining the Secretary of Commerce from including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire and from asking a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census.

“Getting counted in the 2020 Census is easy, quick and safe,” said L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs Executive Director Rigo Reyes. “It is our right to be counted, no matter what our immigration status is, and we can do it by mail, online and phone in most languages – send your form today!”

The Empowerment Congress Hosts Conversations Centered on Resilience

Founded in 1992 to encourage constituent engagement in the governmental decision-making process, the Empowerment Congress is centered around the values of intentional civility, reciprocal accountability, and participatory democracy. Despite these turbulent times, the Empowerment Congress carries on its mission to educate, engage, and empower through virtual forums.

Two recent installments of these virtual gatherings, ArtScape LA: Transformation Beyond Crisis and Uprising 2020: What’s Next?, provided opportunities for panelists and community members to discuss moving forward through the multilayered crises society is facing.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, founder of the Empowerment Congress and longstanding advocate for the arts and the creative economy, provided welcome remarks for the ArtScape LA discussion.

“In this difficult time the world is facing, it is more imperative not to forget about the sustainability of the arts and how beneficial they are to our respective communities. They humanize our respective communities—in other words, the arts matter,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaking to how communities can emerge stronger and more resilient harnessing the critical component of art in the healing of our society.

“I’m proud of the fact that the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has championed the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative for this very purpose. The conversation of equity didn’t just start three months ago. This initiative has led to a placement of creative strategists within key County departments to help address complex social challenges,” highlighted Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Together, we can develop thoughtful ways to sustain artists and artist organizations that do some of the most critical work in our communities.”

Panelists who joined the ArtScape LA discussion include the Empowerment Congress’ Arts and Culture Committee Co-Chairs Marie Kellier and Trevor Davis, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Executive Director Kristin Sakoda, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell, and LACDAC Director of Grants and Professional Development Anji Gaspar-Milanovic.

The panelist discussion touched upon the current state of the arts sector, resources for artists and arts organizations, advocacy opportunities, and collaboration strategies. The panelists shared resiliency strategies that were particularly mindful of COVID-19 public health concerns. A notable point of the discussion surrounded the ways artists are supported to facilitate difficult dialogues and inspire social imagination during this pivotal moment for evoking widespread social change.

The theme of resilience, healing, and equity were carried through the second virtual Empowerment Congress forum. Uprising 2020: What’s Next? offered a debriefing opportunity on the topics of local and nationwide police reform and protests.

In opening the conversation, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas quoted an excerpt from Professor Cornel West’s 1993 book Race Matters: “To engage in a serious discussion about race in America, we must begin not with the problems of black people but with the flaws of American society—flaws rooted in historic inequalities and longstanding cultural stereotypes. How we set up the terms for discussing racial issues shapes our perception and response to these issues.”

“You will have the opportunity to translate what you have learned into actions so that you can, beyond the front lines, be change agents in your personal and professional pursuits in your own communities,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, reminding discussion listeners and participants that this conversation should serve as the catalyst to personal action beyond the panel discussion.

The featured panelists in this discussion included the Los Angeles City Civil and Human Rights Department Executive Director Capri Maddox, Crossroads Equity & Justice Institute Founding Director Derric J. Johnson, and Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission Executive Director Robin Toma.

Panelists discussed their respective institutions they represent and how the virtual attendees can support their efforts toward equity and justice. Other topics include policing and misconduct, public safety, providing equitable socioeconomic opportunities, creating accountability for acts of hate, the state of Los Angeles following widespread protests, and much more.

Uprising 2020: What's Next?

Uprising 2020: What's Next?

Posted by Empowerment Congress on Monday, July 13, 2020

The online forums hosted by the Empowerment Congress are a beacon of hope in guiding communities through challenging times by continuing the work of dismantling systemic racism and pursuing justice and equity. These discussions serve as a reminder of the power of conversation and how progress can still be made even under isolating circumstances. To learn more about the Empowerment Congress and its upcoming events, please visit

Free Resources to Maintain a Healthy Life Balance for Families During COVID-19 Crisis

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, LA County resident’s lives have been turned upside down. Since the implementation of “Safer At Home” orders at the state and local levels, we’re all forced to spend more time inside, and time away from our friends and loved ones. In this moment of crisis and high anxiety, it’s more important more than ever to manage one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Using this unprecedented time to create a safe space for self-care as well as keep children preoccupied and active. Here, the County of Los Angeles has prepared the following suggestions and resources to get through the days ahead while maintaining a healthy life balance.


With children out of school, it is important to provide opportunities for physical fitness. Below is a list of recommendations to keep your family members active.

  • Plan a family workout session every day by accessing YouTube videos to get the heart pumping without leaving your home:
  • Indoors:
  • Outdoors:
  • Design a game from your normal household chores
  • Go for a short walk or a bike ride in your neighborhood (while maintaining proper social distancing)
  • Many gyms are offering virtual classes for their members; check the gym’s website for more information such as:
  • Stoneview Nature Center ( via Zoom platform video conferencing, providing “Classes with Rosie – Yoga/Body Balance”:
  • Cost is $10 per session
  • Text (323) 864-4424 to receive link and payment instructions
  • Class Schedule is:
  • Wednesdays – 10 am and 6 pm
  • Thursdays – 10 am and 7 pm
  • Friday – 10 am
  • Find an online Yoga for Kids:
  • Yoga with Akili and Me:
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga Adventure:
  • Harry Potter Yoga Session:

As humans we are social creatures and being alone or secluded for an extended period of time will take a toll on our mental and emotional health. Therefore, it is very important to utilize coping mechanisms that are available to get through this crisis.

A.) Mental Health Services

In light of communities experiencing unprecedented challenges, this crisis will impact each person’s mental wellbeing differently. This may include; anxiety, uncertainty and even frustration. If there is a need for professional help or additional support, please contact the resources listed below:

B.) Meditation

Meditation is a mental exercise that uses mindfulness techniques to work on attention and awareness with the goal of achieving a calmer state of mind. There are many meditation sessions available on Instagram and YouTube, as well as many instructors are providing group sessions via video conference platforms:

C.) Sound Meditation Therapy

Sound Meditation is the practice of deepening meditation with the use of sound and music for a focused awareness type of meditation utilizing a range of bowls, gongs, bells and other similar devices and instruments, providing overall well-being, bringing balance and relaxation.


Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City libraries are an incredible resource for free knowledge. If you do not have access to a membership, links are provided below to join online.

If you are a member of Los Angeles County Library, you have access to various FREE e-books, audiobooks, movies, documentaries and TV shows. If you are not a member, you can obtain a temporary digital library card using the link below:

Online Membership Page:

A.) E-Books and Audio Books:

  • Enjoy thousands of free eBooks and audiobooks with OverDrive, the most popular online service and check out up to 15 items at a time
  • Download the Libby app, by OverDrive, to easily browse, borrow, place holds, read, and listen
  • Hoopla and RB Digital offer free audiobooks downloads
  • Discover local content from self-published authors on BiblioBoard and never experience a hold, checkout or lending limit

A.) Movies and TV shows:

  • Stream independent, international, classic and documentary films with Kanopy (allows 10 play credits per month)
  • Stream films and TV shows with Hoopla and borrow up to 8 items per month
  • Digitala Film has streaming films available to watch online, including many international titles and classic American cinema
  • Overdrive now offers streaming video, including movies and The Great Courses
  • Freegal allows streaming and downloading over 10 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists, and over 40,000 music videos

C.) Magazines and Newspapers:

  • RBdigital allows checking out digital copies of top magazines like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Wired
  • Access The New York Times for free with your library card
  • PressReader provides instant access to over 2,000 newspapers from 100 countries in 60 languages, including the Los Angeles Times

D.) Learn Something:

  • Learn a language with Mango Languages or Transparent Language Online
  • LinkedIn Learning is an award-winning online learning site that offers more than 3,000 courses taught by recognized industry experts, and 150,000 video tutorials on business, technical and creative skills
  • Universal Class has over 500 online non-credit Continuing Education Courses
  • Access hundreds of college-level audio and video courses with The Great Courses

E.) Just for Kids:

Below are ten library resources for families to access from home

  • com – Students (and parents!) can get help in math, science, English, social studies, writing, and LAUSD homework packets. Professionally trained and experienced tutors work online with students in grades K-12, 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m
  • Tumblebooks – An online collection of animated, talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading in a format they’ll love. Read and listen to a variety of books in 7 different languages
  • BookFlix – Read, watch and listen to books and book videos! This fun Scholastic website reinforces reading skills for early readers, reluctant readers and English language learners for grades preK-3
  • Storytime Online – Enjoy recorded storytimes featuring Miss Lauren, Miss Ednita, Miss Graciela and many more from around the city to watch at home. We also have a guided storytime so you can create your own version at home
  • Kanopy Kids – Unlimited plays so kids are free to explore enriching, educational and entertaining films and TV series
  • Kids’ e-Books – OverDrive Kids offers a special selection of downloadable e-books, audiobooks, comics, magazines and videos just for young readers
  • ScienceFlix – Combines curriculum-driven, leveled content, interactive features, and intuitive navigation into a single, highly-engaging digital resource for students in grades 4-9 providing hundreds of science topics with great information and videos
  • Kids InfoBits – Resource designed for K-5 students providing age-appropriate magazine & news articles, videos, images, and graphs allowing students to dive into elementary subjects by exploring various categories
  • Britannica School – A three-part digital resource multi-subject encyclopedia providing portals for elementary, middle and high school students; Britannica Escolar offers the resource in Spanish.
  • World Book Kids – Lesson plans incorporate a variety of core curriculum subjects and include discussion questions and an assessment rubric. World Book Kids will help kids do age-appropriate research, designed for grades 1-4

$6M Set Aside for Prospective Florence Library

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors (Board) set aside $5.7 million for a prospective new library in Florence Firestone. They also called for securing additional funding for the project, including from the state of California, and directed Los Angeles County (County) departments to redouble efforts to identify an appropriate location.

“Literacy matters, and I am committed to finding a new and improved long-term library with enhanced features, including modern technology, a robust book collection, as well as welcoming spaces to meet the needs of the Florence Firestone community,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

He added he is collaborating with Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer to seek state funding to build the new library.

County Librarian Skye Patrick told the Board, “The Los Angeles County Public Library and County CEO have been working with the Supervisor to find a home for this library. We have committed to this library and so has the Supervisor.”

Several members of the public testified in support of the motion, including Dominique Medina, President of Florence Firestone Community Leaders. “I would like to thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for improving the communities within Florence Firestone,” he said.

Support also came from Edwin Hernandez, Executive Director and CEO of the Florence-Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 1,500 local businesses. In a letter to the Board, he wrote, “The business community fully supports [Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion]… and we have no doubt that the funds being requested to secure a permanent library location will be another successful and productive project for the Florence-Firestone Community.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has long demonstrated his commitment to Florence Firestone residents. He has overseen over $106 million in investment capital and social programs for the community, including affordable housing projects, an improved senior center and constituent service center, streetscape upgrades, park renovations, art programming, and workforce and economic development opportunities.

The original Florence Library, previously located at 1610 East Florence Avenue, was first built in 1970. At 5,000 square feet, it was one of the smaller facilities within the County Public Library system and long overdue for renovation or replacement.

In 2016, a proposal was considered to rebuild the Library at its original location along with affordable housing. This, however, proved financially unfeasible. The Board moved forward with the project’s affordable housing component and added a workforce development center. Construction is now under way.

The Board then considered a new location for the Library at the Florence-Firestone Constituent Service Center, only half a mile away but with twice as much available space. However, the plan was withdrawn after some community members expressed concerns.

While the County continues to look for an alternate site, an “Express” Florence Library has been established at nearby Roosevelt Park. In addition, the community has access to four other libraries within approximately two miles from the original location of the Florence Library.

Julian Zamora, the County’s community library manager at the Florence Express Library, said a full-service library with the same staffing levels remains available at the Express location. He added it offers enhanced programs, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for kids, and painting, yoga, and many more programs for adults in the adjacent community room. Meanwhile, a new partnership with the County’s Parks and Recreation Department has resulted in an after-school program where kids can participate in story time and crafts projects. Additional amenities at the Express location include laptops, Wi-Fi service, printing capabilities, and access to the large community room.