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Flying the red flag of the Blood Army has never been easy. Outnumbered by the Crips in LA, they’ve expanded across the nation to become a Super Gang.

Gang banging on the streets of Los Angeles is a lifestyle. A vicious cycle that repeats itself generation after generation. Young black and brown soldiers represent their hoods in the streets, dying in the field of battle. If it’s not rough, its not right and there’re only two outcomes for a gangbanger- death or jail- and on the mean streets of LA, in the realm of a Blood gang member, the inner-city can resemble a war zone.

Loomis, Rick –– – 128099.MN.0910.gangcop.8.RL––Los Angeles, Ca.––LAPD gang officers try to control the scene of a double shooting that took place in Nickerson Gardens, which borders both Watts and Compton and is a notoriously gang–infested area. An officer had just driven through the area just minutes before the shooting. Donta Bolden, 15, was killed and 36–year–old Ryant Alexander remains hospitalized. Alexander is an admitted member of the Bounty Hunter Bloods, a violent gang known to operate in the area since the 1970’s.

LA Gangbanger Ground Zero

In California gangs are a way of life and LA is considered gangbanger central. The Crips, Sureno’s, Norteno’s, Nazi Low Riders and Bloods all hold court in the streets, battling for gangland supremacy. According to Blood legend the red in their bandanna symbolizes the blood they’ve shed, the white in the red symbolizes the celestial bodies, stars or heaven and the black in the red symbolizes the bangers as black people. A gang’s effect on a neighborhood can vary widely, but residents generally say their impact is overwhelmingly negative.

Legend has it that the Bloods started in the summer of 1972 when a member of the LA Brims, a westside independent gang was shot and killed by a Crip member after a confrontation. Being heavily outnumbered by the Compton Crips and thus no match for them in a gang fight the LA Brims turned to the Piru Street Boys, Lueders Park Hustlers and Denver Lanes, three other non-crip gangs, for assistance. Before the ensuing rumble a meeting was called on Piru Street in Compton where the 4 non-crip gangs met and metamorphosed into the Bloods. To distinguish themselves from the Crips and their traditional blue bandanas the newly form Bloods decided to fly red rags and so the war of colors was launched.

“Neighborhoods all across the City of Angels in the 1980s were expanding, growing and swallowing up more territory in a desperate land grab to determine which neighborhoods would control and monopolize the city through terror.” says Terrell “Loko” Wright, an OG Neighborhood Blood serving life in the California Department of Corrections who wrote Home of the Body Bags, a memoir on gang banging. “In the early days we beefed simply because we were Bloods and they were Crips. That was the unique dynamic all across the city. Simply because we were from opposite ends of the spectrum.”

In the housing projects of South Central, Watts and Compton young black males lined up to join the gangs. They wanted the reputation, prestige and protection that came along with being a member of the Blood or Crip army. As their antics and exploits grew the idea of the gangs spread to projects all over the city. Inspiring a generation of youth to start their own sets all over the United States and beyond.

Crack Money and Drug Dealers

When crack hit the scene in the 1980s the Blood/Crip rivalry became even more fierce. With millions of dollars of cocaine money to be had the gangs transformed into multi-faceted criminal organizations that ran retail drug spots, traveled out-of-town to sell drugs and protected their territories with a vengeance. The gangs spread outward from LA and established roots all over the nation. All it took was one LA gang member in a city and he could turn whole neighborhoods to the red flag.

“I’m a second generation Damu (Blood) and I was affiliated heavily with those wicked streets of Inglewood growing up as a teenager.” Clifford “Spud” Johnson, a Blood OG who stated opening urban fiction novels in prison, tells Real Crime. “I got caught up in the gang lifestyle and drug dealing (crack) in the early 80s. That in turn made me very aggressive towards getting money. Hungry for real. I ended up in Oklahoma City in 1992 selling drugs and made that city my home after meeting the mother of my children.

“I was arrested by the FBI in 1999 and received a 210 month sentence for distribution of 13.5 kilos of crack. I’m from 111 Street Center Park Bloods, we were originally a branch of the Inglewood Family Gangsters (IFG) until our O/G homies decided we should stand on our own and make the name CPB mean something without the help of our originators. Inglewood has always been dominated by Damus. My set, CPB is one of the smaller sets in Inglewood, yet still one of the most dangerous. I love my hood and I will forever be linked to the set, but my life is headed in a different direction now.”

The gangs resemble paramilitary organizations in terms of their hierarchical structures. While some sets are less rigid than others when it comes to chain of command, younger members generally take orders from mid-level soldiers, who answer directly to the gang’s highest-ranking members/leaders. This kind of command structure tends to inoculate set leaders from legal exposure at the street level, ensuring that younger members carry out shootings, assaults, on-the-ground drug deals, and other gang-related actions at their behest. Of course, the leaders were once low-ranking gangsters themselves, putting in work at the behest of their superiors. The younger members of today’s gangs tend to view their set leaders with respect, even awe, and aspire to exert the same kind of power over their fellow gangsters one day.

“They generally control outdoor drug markets and associated locations- stash houses, shooting galleries, crack dens- in communities with high heroin and cocaine addiction rates.” Says Kevin Deutsch, author of The Triangle: A year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips. “They use runners and lookouts on designated corners or near specific buildings where they keep larger stashes of drugs. They run their operations like a legitimate business, giving discounts to their best customers, using promotions like two-for-one vials or baggies to increase daily sales and attract new customers, and utilizing word-of-mouth advertising about their products’ potency. They use force—and the threat of force—to keep rival gangs and start-up crews out of their territory.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 01: “Bloodhound”, a “shot caller” or boss with the LA Bloods gang, shows some of the scars from 23 bullets he has received in his gang life, as he speaks in support of granting clemency for Stanley “Tookie’” Williams, co-founder of the arch rival Crips gang, on December 1, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Williams is scheduled to be put to death on December 13. After his days as a Crip, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-gang efforts. Williams authored such books as “Life in Prison”, encouraging kids to stay out of gangs, and his memoir “Blue Rage, Black Redemption”. The condemned man claims to have changed and maintains his innocence in the killing of four people. Critics are skeptical of his claims. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Expansion Across the United States

Gangs in the City of Angels are nothing if not recklessly rampant, and gang activity doesn’t just happen in the big city. The blueprints for banging have infested smaller towns and spread across the nation. The ideology has transgressed ethnic, racial and geographical boundaries. Gang banging exists not only in the hood, but even in the suburbs and rural areas all over the country. The gang become very popular in the New York State prison system and spread like a cancer to the streets.

“The biggest gangs in New York are obviously influenced by the Department of Corrections (DOC) and filter to the streets.” Ron “Cook” Barrett, an upstate New York gang expert, tells Real Crime. “Traditionally, since 1993, the Bloods have been the power within Riker’s Island and many state correctional facilities. Sets like the Mac Ballers, G Shine, Brims, and Gorilla Brims have been active and constantly fight for control of facilities. They outnumber many rivals.”A big change for the original Blood sets of LA, who were under constant pressure from their lifelong enemies, the Crips, who outnumbered them 3-1.

“The Blood Army is always outnumbered in any given situation. Since we have the odds always stacked against us the Bloods have to have twice the courage in the field of battle, which is everywhere, or we would cease to exist as an entity.” OG Loko says. ”It gave us the opportunity to be a part of something grandeur, majestic, mystical and dominating in the hearts and minds of those who stood on the side line, admiring and awing over the gang-bangers life.”

During his incarceration at Riker’s Island in 1996, Peter “Pistol Pete” Rollock, a Bronx drug lord joined the Bloods. East Coast Blood founders, Omar “OG Mack” Portee and Leonard “Deadeye” Mackenzie, recruited Pistol Pete into the United Blood Nation (UBN). Pistol Pete’s set- Sex, Money, Murder- were the scourge of the Sound View section of the Bronx back in the day. Pistol Pete was known as a gunslinger and was one of the most feared and powerful men in New York during the crack era. People were killed on his word alone. (see box out Infamous Blood Legends)

“The wars are fewer than it once was, but when they do commence they’re bloody and violent.” Loko tells Real Crime. “Unlike back in the days when the wars were more rampant as many L.A. gangs vied to be the biggest fish in the ocean. We did what damage we could with our simple revolvers. But in today’s time when wars jump-off the automatics are brought out and most times multiple body counts of dead are the results. Most wars today are brief, but very, very traumatic. But don’t get me wrong, it’s always a state of warfare between the tribes.”

Pop Culture and Gangs

As the Blood-Crip conflict moves into its 45th year the gangs have become a trend in popular culture and society as a whole to a large degree. Banging has consumed pop culture, first with movies like Colors and Menace II Society and secondly with Snoop Dog and The Game flashing gang signs in music videos. Tons of rapper claim Blood and the LA gang banger style has been appropriated by Hollywood just like the Mafia was before them.

“It’s funny to me for real because now it seems so popular to be a Damu.” Spud tells Real Crime. “You got rappers like the homies Mack 10, The Game, Lil Weezy, Baby, Jim Jones, Tech9 and Mitchy Slick doing their thing. But these men need to realize what they’re promoting. They’re promoting death and violence to our youth for real. Being a Blood or Crip ain’t cool. Some kid that doesn’t know any better will take certain words said by their favorite rapper and go out and do some goofy shit thinking that’s the business and that’s tragic.”

When Death Row Records was at its height, Suge Knight was a walking billboard for the gang. He made no bones about his alliances and even used his gang banging cohorts to muscle industry people and journalists. A member of the Mob Piru Bloods, Suge Knight epitomized what it was like to be a Blood living the high life in hip-hop. An image many other entertainers and gang bangers have tried to emulate.


Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and into the 90’s the Blood/Crips rivalry grew as did the numbers associated with the gang and their presence in cities and areas across the nation. The warfare has raged on unabated. Bloods wanted to be known as Crip Killers, but recently the state of the war has changed as more and more Crips and Bloods have been fighting a more common enemy. The fight in LA has turned from Blood versus Crip and black versus black to Blood and Crip versus Sureno’s (Mexicans/Chicanos) and black versus brown.

“Today is no different than the old: gang wars, funerals, lives destroyed and many more adversities to overcome.” Loko tells Real Crime. “The only difference today, is instead of the traditional Blood-vs-Crip wars, and Mexican (cholos)-vs- Mexican warfare, the two predominate groups in Southern California, have now turned their guns on each other. It’s the new trend of black gangsters-vs-brown gangsters. But it’s a no win situation, as the only for sure outcome, is that there will be more chaos and destruction left behind then it was the day before.”

All across LA, and its many highways and byways, the black and brown gangsters are drawing up new battle lines, re-drawing and re-establishing new demilitarized zones, inside communities they once happily shared together, and are killing each other at an alarming rate. It’s gotten so bad that Snoop Dog (a Crip) and The Game (a Blood) even had a peace rally to stop the killing.

“The blood baths have left the two groups taking it to dimensions of warfare that’s considered something new to many of the LA gangsters: racial targeting and culture clashes.” Loko says. “It’s the new trend and sadly enough it’ll be here for a while and as it buries itself deeper into the fine woven material of the LA stage of drama, more lives will be lost, and many more heart breaks for family, friends, homies, brothers, cousins, fathers, and uncles. The loss of lives will continue to rise out of control.”


Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper fights for his innocence


Since 1983, African American Kevin Cooper has been incarcerated on Death Row at California’s San Quentin State Prison. Wrongfully convicted during a nationally-covered racist frame-up trial in San Bernardino County, Cooper came within hours of being executed in 2004. But thanks to a broad movement demanding justice and freedom and ever-mounting evidence of innocence, a ruling by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals stayed his execution, literally at the midnight hour. Cooper has for decades become a leading social justice fighter and an opponent of the death penalty.

Stretching over decades, Cooper’s case has been repeatedly exposed as rife with overt corruption, gross incompetence and racial bias. As followers of American history will note, African Americans are often subjected to  the full weight of this nation’s racist and classist criminal injustice system. The details of Kevin Cooper’s case fully illustrate this ugly tradition; despite all evidence to the contrary, the “blame it on the Black guy” thesis has been fully operative.

Now, in January 2020, Cooper’s attorney, Norman C. Hile of the prestigious Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe global law firm, sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that the Governor’s office order a “complete innocence investigation.” Previously, Governor Newsom ordered a stay of all further executions in California and in so doing, granted a reprieve to Cooper.

Attorney Hile’s letter summarizes the key facts proving that Kevin Cooper is innocent of the brutal 1983 Ryen-Hughes murders in Chino Hills, California.  [For a detailed expose´ of the Cooper case see: Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper by J.  Patrick Cooper.]

The recent Governor Newsom-ordered DNA testing on a tan t-shirt and orange towel –  items found at the murder scene – according to the initial report, do not match Cooper’s DNA. None of the hairs from the victims’ hands, according to this report,  came from an African American.

Most egregiously, a vial of Kevin Cooper’s blood, taken in 1983, has been shown to be contaminated with other blood. And a second blood vial of Cooper’s blood is missing. These blood vials point to either mishandling of evidence or deliberate efforts to frame Cooper for the murders. For many years the prosecution denied DNA testing that certainly would have resulted in a new trial and proof of Cooper’s innocence.

Review of Kevin Cooper’s case

Shortly after the 1983 murders of the Ryen family and neighbor Christopher Hughes, three persons were seen driving away from the Ryen home in a car that looked like the Ryen station wagon. Josh Ryen, whose life was saved at the hospital, identified his attackers as three white or Mexican males. When Josh Ryen saw Cooper’s mug shot on the television news, he said that Cooper was not one of the killers.

The attorney’s letter states that there is now testimony from three persons to whom Eugene Leland Furrow confessed that he was responsible for the murders. Back in 1983, Diane Roper, then Furrow’s girlfriend, turned over to police coveralls covered in blood. Those bloody coveralls are now missing.

One of the key witnesses testified that Furrow confessed to participating in the murders and that Furrow was seen by this witness wearing a tan t-shirt that matched the one with Doug Ryen’s blood on it. Also, this witness asserted that Furrow arrived at the Furrow/Roper residence in a station wagon that matches the Ryen’s stolen vehicle.

There is further evidence of the corruption flooding over the Cooper case. One of the prosecution’s forensic experts, William Baird, was fired because he was found stealing heroin from various state evidence lockers. Similarly, San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, also involved in the Cooper case, was convicted on felony charges of stealing hundreds of guns from evidence lockers over a period of years.

Quoting from the Hile letter: “First, according to a study published by the National Registry of Exonerations, a majority of exonerations over the past 30 years have come about not through DNA testing, as effective as that can be, but from innocence emerging through other, non-DNA factors. According to this study, there have been five times as many exonerations from non-DNA factors as from DNA testing. These non-DNA factors include, as here, (1) confessions from the actual perpetrators, (2) the discovery that “junk science” was used to obtain a wrongful conviction, and (3) that the prosecution offered perjured testimony from jailhouse snitches. Those cases also display rampant racial bias in prosecution, faulty eye-witness testimony, withholding and destroying exculpatory evidence, and ineffective assistance of defense counsel. Mr. Cooper has already shown that the prosecution presented false “snitch” testimony, relied on “junk science” and ran an investigation that was improperly driven by racism.

In addition, Mr. Cooper has shown that the prosecution presented perjured testimony and destroyed exonerating evidence, and that his defense counsel was profoundly ineffective.”

The attorney’s letter concludes that in light of this ongoing corruption, new evidence and racism, Governor Newsom should order a complete and thorough innocence investigation to expose this wrongdoing and prevent this from happening to anyone else. For further information on Kevin Cooper, see this 2018 article in Socialist Action.


source: Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper fights for his innocence

The story of Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a co-founder of the famous street gang, Crips

Stanley “Tookie” Williams. Photo Credit:

It is impossible to miss who the Crips are if one is familiar with American gang culture. The idiosyncrasies – the color blue, the graffiti, avoiding the letter “b” – are comprehensive synecdoches.

What however often goes undiscussed in our conversations on gangs is their origin story or even the founders of these organizations.

That is where Stanley “Tookie” Williams comes in. He is one of the founders of the Crips in partnership with Raymond Lee Washington.

Washington was killed in 1979 shortly after he was released from the Deuel Vocational Institute in San Joaquin County, California.

The popular theory that gangsters are usually individuals who were denied the benefit of growing up in a functional family was true for Williams.

He was born to a teenage mother in 1953 in Louisiana. When Williams was just one, his father abandoned the family and in 1959, the young Williams and his mother moved to Los Angeles.

In effect, the South Central area in LA where Williams lived, prepared him for the kind of life he would be known for. By his own account, he played with children with similar family situations as his in vacant lots and on the streets.

They saw drunk adults and every sort of debauchery on the streets. The learning curve was mild from that point.

But the 1960s was also a turbulent time in the United States for black people. The argument of civil rights was becoming as forceful as its opposition.

California’s law enforcers became suspicious of the pockets of young black people, especially men. Incidentally, the state record of juvenile crime from those times hit high numbers.

For young black people who were to be found in disenfranchised communities, the future was bleak. But what also happened was that many gangs realized the futility of their crimes.

If the point of crime was for poor black boys to have something on which to live, the Black Power Movement offered a legitimate platform to challenge the system that kept people poor.

This is why some of the earliest affiliates of the Black Panther Party were ex-gangsters.

Williams was, however, caught up in the mess of his time. In 1969, he was jailed two years for car theft.

When he got out in 1971, Williams went back to the life that had sent him to juvenile prison. Only this time, he would gain notoriety as a stout and strong bully tapping from his bodybuilding adventure while incarcerated.

He was known to be a brawn for hire. But the story of his fearlessness against groups such as the L.A. Brims and the Chain Gang unsurprisingly spread.

And so Washington came calling. He had a proposal for Williams – the two of them can come together and cajole other small gangs into their influence and control.

Washington’s idea was a sort of a confederacy of gangs headed by him and Williams. The two of them thought that if gangs had more central control, somehow, and paradoxically, crime would be cleaner.

It is better to have an organized plan to commit crimes that would eliminate free willing marauding gangs. The Crips were thus born in 1969.

But it was a group that was first known as Cribs. When the members of the gang started carrying walking canes to portray their “pimp” status, people in the South Central neighborhoods began to call them “Crips”, as in cripples.

Interestingly, other less popular theories exist as to why they are called what they are.

It is not known how many people would describe themselves as Crips some 50 years on but conservative estimates put them over 50,000. Some Crips have even become quite famous for very non-gang related but legitimate activities.

In 1979, Williams was convicted on four counts of murder and sentenced to death. He maintained that these were not crimes he committed but several appeals were turned down.

In 2005, by lethal injection, Williams’ death penalty was carried out. Before his death, he tried in his own little way to give back some good through his work as a youth counselor.


California prison authorities are punishing hunger strike veterans by starving them

James Baridi Williamson, then buried alive in the dreaded Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU), is one of those who fought back and is now being punished for his participation in the 2011 and 2013 California mass hunger strikes, including the largest one in history with 30,000 participants. The strikers won an end to indefinite sentences to the SHU, which was literally designed as a torture chamber, solitary confinement in a windowless cell with no human contact. But the California Department of Corrections has been punishing them ever since. Most of the leaders are back in solitary, and not one has yet been paroled. These are brave men, who fought to prevent others from the decades of torture they survived, and are well deserving of support.

by Chandra Hauptmann

Open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom

Dear Governor Newsom:

I am writing as an authorized medical advocate for Mr. James Williamson (D34288) with regard to an extremely serious matter. A copy of my medical advocate authorization is enclosed.

Mr. Williamson informs me that, beginning in May 2019, the portions of food that inmates housed in C Facility at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) receive have been cut. No clear explanation has been given for this reduction.

Mr. Williamson has lost over 20 pounds. His weight issue is so extreme that, during a recent visit with a physician, he was given a prescription for Ensure to increase his weight.

Other inmates have also experienced dramatic weight losses. A Level 1 Group Grievance regarding the poor quality and quantity of food served during meals, as well as the lack of a balanced diet, was denied. A Level 2 Group Grievance on the same issues was partially granted “for a wholesome, nutritionally balanced diet,” but this has not been implemented. A Level 3 Appeal has been filed with Sacramento and is pending.

In addition, in early September, a Level 2 Grievance, from another inmate in C Facility, “requesting Food Service Central Kitchen send the proper amount of food to the yards” was recently granted but has not been implemented.

CDCR Title 15, California Code of Regulations, Division 3, Chapter 1, Article 4 stipulates:

Ҥ 3050. Regular Meals.

“(a) Each inmate shall be provided a wholesome, nutritionally balanced diet. Nutrition levels shall meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances and Dietary Reference Intakes as established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science.”

Some of the allegations include:

  • The portions of food received are half the amount previously offered. (For example: two slices of bread instead of four and one hash brown potato instead of two);
  • Food is sometimes old and has a suspicious odor;
  • Milk is “spoiled” and eggs are cold;
  • Food from previous days is provided;
  • Sodium levels are excessive (over 1,000 mg per portion); Food consists mostly of starches;
  • The serving ladles used to serve the food are half the size of those previously used;
  • Water is used to thin the cereal; and
  • Meals are not balanced nor healthy; They don’t contain the medically recommended 2,600-2,800 calories per day, per California’s Penal Code.

The Prison Law Office (PLO) has reported to CDCR that there are serious problems with the inmate complaint process and that complaints such as the above are not acted on appropriately.

The California Office of the Inspector General (OIG) also concurs with the PLO and filed a report in January 2019. Some of the OIG’s findings include:

  • A complete failure of due process at SVSP;
  • From Dec. 17 to May 18, SVSP had the highest level of complaints of any prison in the state of California;
  • For the past two years CDCR, has allegedly been aware of the failures of its grievance process but has done nothing to correct the situation;
  • The OIG’s recommendation that an independent and expeditious complaint process be created, outside the jurisdiction of the Adult Prison Institution’s purview, has so far gone unheeded.

I urge you to please investigate this matter as expeditiously as possible to ensure that the inmates housed in Facility C receive a “wholesome and nutritionally balanced diet” as prescribed by the CDCR, in sufficient quantities as to satiate their hunger.

Thank you.


Chandra Hauptmann

Copies to:

  • Secretary Ralph Diaz, CDCR
  • Mr. Matthew Atchley, Acting Warden
  • Ms. Tami Falconer, Ombudsperson
  • Mr. Donald Spector, Executive Director, Prison Law Office
  • Ms. Sara L. Smith, Chief Ombudsperson
  • Sen. Nancy Skinner
  • Mr. Roy W. Wesley, California Inspector General
  • Ms. Connie Gipson, Director, Division of Adult Institutions, CDCR
  • Mr. Alex Bumfield, Prisoner Advocacy Network
  • Lt. Alan Meyer, Public Information Officer
  • Mr. Clark Kelso, Federal Receiver

Chandra Hauptmann, a pillar of support for the California Prison Movement and other worthy causes, can be reached at Readers are encouraged to send similar letters.


‘Internment Camps for the Homeless’: Housing Advocates Horrified by Trump Push for ‘Crackdown’ on California Homelessness

“Further efforts to criminalize or otherwise harm people experiencing homelessness are unconscionable.”

A pedestrian walks past tents on a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles on May 30, 2019. (Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)


Following reports that President Donald Trump is pushing for a “major crackdown” on homelessness in California that could include destroying existing encampments and moving homeless people into government-backed facilities, state lawmakers and progressive housing advocates said the administration’s proposed steps are cruel, politically motivated, and would do nothing to address the very real crisis Trump has exacerbated.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump ordered White House officials to begin work on a “sweeping effort” to address the homelessness crisis in California. As part of the new initiative, Trump administration officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Justice Department visited California this week for meetings and tours.

“Among the ideas under consideration are razing existing tent camps for the homeless, creating new temporary facilities, and refurbishing existing government facilities,” the Post reported, citing officials familiar with the effort.

“Housing experts say homelessness in California has risen alongside housing and rental prices,” the Post noted. “That problem has been exacerbated by cuts to federal support for housing programs.”

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the early stages of Trump’s effort, as well as his past policy moves, demonstrate that the White House is “clearly not acting in good faith to end homelessness.”

“They’ve proposed drastically shrinking or eliminating federal programs that keep the lowest-income people affordably housed; tripling rents for the lowest-income subsidized residents and raising rents for all others; evicting 100,000 people, including 55,000 American children, from subsidized housing; and allowing homeless shelters to discriminate and refuse shelter to transgender and other LGBTQ people,” said Yentel.

“The solution to homelessness is affordable homes,” Yentel added, “not further criminalization, punishing poor people for their poverty, sweeping people experiencing homelessness into increasingly unsafe areas, or warehousing people in untenable and unsustainable conditions.”

Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, told USA Today that Trump’s plan would effectively create “internment camps for people experiencing homelessness,” a fear that was echoed on social media.

California Democrats joined the chorus condemning Trump’s proposed “crackdown,” accusing the president of feigning concern for homelessness for political purposes while failing to put forth solutions that would mitigate the crisis.

“The president has no interest in hearing from actual policy experts. He’s just playing to his base,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). “We need to increase Section 8 vouchers + the Housing Tax Credit to expand access to affordable housing.”

California State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco said “rounding up homeless people into federal facilities won’t solve the problem.”

“We need to get people the help they need,” said Wiener, “including shelter, housing, and other services.”

Nathan Click, spokesman for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, said the state is “ready to talk” if Trump is “willing to put serious solutions, with real investment, on the table.”

“He could start by ending his plans to cut food stamps, gut healthcare for low-income people, and scare immigrant families from accessing government services,” said Click.


California set to be first state to protect black people from natural hair discrimination

California set to be first state to protect black people from natural hair discrimination
Kari Williams’ Beverly Hills hair salon specializes in natural black hair. She supports a bill that would protect natural black hairstyles from discrimination. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Kari Williams has worked to make her natural hair salon a refuge for black Angelenos, including those who’ve felt pressured to alter their hairstyles to hold on to a job.

Some customers have asked her to cut their locs — short for dreadlocks — because their bosses deemed them unacceptable. Others hadn’t worn their natural hair in so long they forgot what it looked like. That’s why Williams welcomes proposed state legislation that could soon make California the first state to protect black employees from discrimination based on hairstyles.

“It’s important to me as a black woman,” said Williams, who owns Mahogany Hair Revolution, a hair salon in Beverly Hills. “Our skin color and our hair have been used as ways to continue to keep us disenfranchised.”

The CROWN Act, which passed the state Senate in April, was approved by the state Assembly on Thursday. It would outlaw policies that punish black employees and students for their hairstyles. Supporters say the bill’s acronym reflects its intention: creating a respectful and open workplace for natural hair.


If signed by Gov. Gavin Newsomthe bill would legally protect people in workplaces and K-12 public schools by prohibiting the enforcement of grooming policies that disproportionately affect people of color, particularly black people. This includes bans on certain hairstyles, such as Afros, braids, twists, cornrows and dreadlocks.

The proposal by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), comes after Chastity Jones, a black woman from Alabama, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case in 2018 after she claimed to have lost a job offer because she refused to cut her dreadlocks.

In California, school officials in and around Fresno have sent black students home because of their curls and shaved heads. The Transportation Security Administration also ushered in new measures after facing allegations of “unnecessary, unreasonable and racially discriminatory” hair searches of black women at Los Angeles International Airport.

Nationally, black employees have filed several lawsuitsclaiming to have lost jobsand faced discrimination in the workplace because of their hair.

Kari Williams, left, who is an expert in hair and scalp care, said that common methods of straightening or chemically treating black hair often damage the hair and scalp.
Kari Williams, left, who is an expert in hair and scalp care, said that common methods of straightening or chemically treating black hair often damage the hair and scalp. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

The CROWN Act would extend anti-discrimination protections in the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Education Code to include hair texture and styles. It also would amend the California government and education codes to protect against discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyles — affirming that targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.

New York City officially banned natural hair discrimination in February, saying that hairstyles are protected under the city’s existing anti-discrimination laws because policing black hair is a form of pervasive racism and bias. Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey also proposed legislation modeled after the CROWN Actin June.

The legislation comes 20 years after Sisterlocks, a San Diego-based natural hair care management company, successfully argued a case involving hair care discrimination. The company argued its practitioners shouldn’t be required to undergo 1,600 hours of training to obtain a state license because natural hair care wasn’t taught in cosmetology schools and is, in large part, a cultural practice.

“This legislation could potentially set a precedent nationally as our case did,” said JoAnne Cornwell, the founder of Sisterlocks.

Mitchell wrote the proposed legislation, SB 188, and before the Senate unanimously passed it, she described the bill’s purpose as twofold: to dispel myths about black hair, its texture and the black hair experience, and to challenge what constitutes “professionalism” in the workplace.

“Eurocentric standards of beauty have established the very underpinnings of what was acceptable and attractive in the media, in academic settings and in the workplace. So even though African Americans were no longer explicitly excluded from the workplace, black features and mannerisms remained unacceptable and ‘unprofessional,’” said Mitchell, a black woman.

The bill states that “blackness” and its associated physical traits — dark skin, kinky and curly hair — have long been equated to “a badge of inferiority” because of racist ideologies. And when black employees conform to narrow, Eurocentric ideas of “professionalism” by altering their appearances, there are serious economic and health consequences because of high costs and harsh chemicals, the bill says.

“Racial capital refers to this idea that the farther away you are from Eurocentric standards, the harder it is for you,” said Nourbese Flint, policy director for Black Women for Wellness, a reproductive justice education and outreach organization. “If you are thinner with straighter hair, lighter skin and lighter eyes, that opens up different spaces for you. The farther away you are from [those standards], the harder it can be to get into certain spaces of privilege.”

Flint said her group has worked on issues relating to hair care partly because black women are the nation’s biggest consumers of hair care products and because altering one’s hair can come with serious health consequences.

“We know the hair care products that black women use have some of the most toxic chemicals on the market,” Flint said, adding that the most hazardous chemicals are found in products for permanently straightening hair. “But in order for us to conform to [Eurocentric] standards, we end up having to use a lot of different chemicals that are harmful to our health.”

A 2018 peer-reviewed study examined the hazards of hair products, including hot-oil treatments, anti-frizz polishes, root stimulators and relaxers. The study, prepared by the Silent Spring Institute, which studies women’s health and the environment, found that the products were made with chemicals linked to asthma, birth defects, reproductive issues and cancer.

These health concerns, in part, have inspired some hairstylists to emphasize education, so their customers wouldn’t have to choose between their hairstyles and their health.

Williams, the salon owner, said she has a doctorate in trichology, which focuses on the care of the hair and scalp, to help women deal with the aftermath of straightening and chemically treating their hair.

“The cosmetology schools spend 1,600 hours teaching us how to destroy our hair. We don’t really have formal instruction and training on how to take care of our hair, so I wanted to position myself as a resource for that,” said Williams, a member of the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. “That led me to opening my salon.”

In Stockton, Valonne Smith left a career of working in biotech and business development to open Natural Do, a salon where she teaches people about the health benefits of going natural.

“A reason people go natural is because they’re losing their hair, which is either from the chemicals, the pulling and the tightness of the weaves,” Smith said.

Michelle Laron Bryant grew up in Los Angeles practicing braids on dolls while her grandmother taught her to care for her natural hair. Now Bryant, a licensed cosmetologist and author of “Celebrating Natural Hair: For Braids, Twists, Locks and Sisterlocks,” is a trainer with Sisterlocks.

When she had her daughter, Bryant wanted to model natural hair at home the same way her grandmother did for her. She saw other moms do the same.

“For a long time, I worked with a lot of mothers and daughters who were interested in being natural at a time when it wasn’t encouraged because we’re taught that in order to get hired or be acceptable, you had to alter our hair texture,” Bryant said. “We literally had to build a community so we could support each other.”

Williams has a doctorate in trichology, which focuses on care of the hair and scalp.
Williams has a doctorate in trichology, which focuses on care of the hair and scalp. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

SB 188 is sponsored by the CROWN Coalition — a national alliance composed of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color of Change and Dove. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Black Women Organized for Political Action, the California Black Chamber of Commerce and the California School Boards Assn. have also supported the legislation.

That pleases Williams, the salon owner, who once met Mitchell in a campaign office on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles. She remembers being excited to see a black woman with locs talking about the ways people can feel confident, beautiful and healthy wearing their natural hair.

“Throughout history, our hair has been used against us,” Williams said. “It’s tough to move forward when our identity has been attacked.”

source:  workplace discrimination based on their hair.