Letters

Task Force recommendation

RE: Manhattan Bruce's Beach Task Force to recommend formal apology, art installation, other remedies, The Beach Reporter, 3/11/21

I was disappointed to read that the Bruce’s Beach Task Force has made such meager recommendations on the matter at hand. I ask the city council members who selected and convened this task force if the time and resources allocated were necessary to achieve such negligible results. It is my hope that Los Angeles County will take stronger action, in consultation with the Bruce family, to properly address the Bruce’s Beach history and its future.

Regarding the "concerned" residents of our city who placed a two-page ad to make claims of not being racist, I question how firmly held their beliefs are, and if they are truly “many” and proud of their words if they are not willing to sign their names to such a unilateral statement.

As for myself, I realize the time is over to merely say I am not racist, but to actively be anti-racist, and advocate for equity and against institutional and structural racism — whether I was directly involved in those racist acts and policies or not — and recognize my privilege born out of the history of those policies. In the words of Ibram Kendi, “to be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history...” and we can and must do better than those before us to fight for a more just society. And I am willing to sign my name to this statement.

—Liz Vohwinkel, Manhattan Beach

Advertisement dustup

Shame on the group of "Concerned Residents of MB" for that two-page diatribe against the findings of the Bruce's Beach Task Force (and shame on The Beach Reporter for taking their money and publishing the advertisement).

Calling institutionalized/systemic racism "false" while virtue signaling our city's diversity and inclusiveness (one of the most deeply and intentionally segregated communities in Los Angeles) is so on-brand for the bigots of Manhattan Beach.

Two pages is a lot ad space to say "I don't experience racism, therefore there is no 'racist problem.'"

Thanks, guys, for making it clear that a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission is exactly what we need.

If these concerned residents would come out from under their white hoods long enough to read through the online cesspool that is MB Patch or NextDoor, they would see that white supremacy and racism are alive and well here. Or they could listen to some of the POC who have tried to live, work and go to school in this community.

It was reasonable to expect that the Task Force's findings and recommendations might force us to confront some terrible episodes from our history, require difficult and painful conversations with each other as well as uncomfortable introspection about our own assumptions and behaviors, not to mention questions about how to set things right here in the real world.

All the "Concerned Residents of MB" proved with their vulgar display of white grievance is that racists really hate when you call out their racism. What's next? A KKK rally at the pier? #DoBetterManhattanBeach

—Cynthia Davidson, Manhattan Beach

Civic duty in Hermosa Beach

I would like to commend the Hermosa Beach City Council for remaining neutral on the open seat recently vacated which will be voted for on May 11. Given the controversy over the sudden resignation and that there will be a cost to taxpayers for the election, it seems prudent to allow voters to determine the outcome without influence from the council. This allows for democracy to work as it should. I look forward to evaluating the candidates and exercising my duty to vote.

—Greg Ippolito, Hermosa Beach

Race relations in Manhattan Beach

Re: Advertisement on pages 8 and 9, The Beach Reporter, 3/11/21

I was stunned by the two-page ad in the Beach Reporter Thursday from "Concerned Residents of MB" that headlines, "We have been falsely accused of being a racist city."

It is possible to both love our Manhattan Beach town and acknowledge that some residents, or business employees, may sometimes act in racist ways even with no malintent? I am stunned at the number of residents on NextDoor who use the statement, “if you don’t like it then move” when someone like myself tries to raise the issue of racism within the borders of our community.

I have personally witnessed acts of subtle racism and sometimes overt racism towards my friends of color here in Manhattan Beach in the 25 years I have lived here. Without question, the majority of residents are not overtly racist but all of us have unconscious biases of some sort and to pretend we don't just ignores the problem.

Ideally the conversation should move to "Let's make sure that Manhattan Beach is welcoming to all" rather than "Manhattan Beach is not racist." Let's talk openly to our residents and visitors of color to hear their experiences.  And we should not respond defensively to experiences that differ from our own (or outright deny these experiences, or say things such as “did you go to the police” or “this is just one incident; it is no big deal”). My reality is not someone else's reality.  One person may not see racism occur in our city; others do. There is no right or wrong. Let's work together to make our community stronger and more inclusive than ever.

—Jennifer Salem, Manhattan Beach

Paid ad by "Concerned Residents of MB"

The two-page ad in the Beach Reporter paid for by the "Concerned Residents of MB" is pure and simple White backlash, and one more example of Whites failing to take into account social injustices visited upon Blacks for the past 400 years. 
 
For those of you who caught the PBS documentary “Driving While Black,” you may have noticed the reference to Bruce’s Beach as it was featured in the Negro Motorists Green Book which provided African Americans with advice on safe places to eat, sleep and recreate when they traveled through Jim Crow-era America. 
 
Because the heartbeat of today’s racism is “denial” and pleas of “I am not racist,” any attempt to dismantle the Bruce’s Beach Task Force and oppose recognizing the historic, anti-democratic and discriminatory practices of the past simply feeds a white-washed, sanitized version of our city’s past. If we are to earnestly begin to dismantle our persistently White Supremacist system, we must begin by actively challenging the status quo. 
 
Being honest about our past and present days’ unequal distribution of power and resources fuels past and present day protests for change and equity. Moreover, calls for the Manhattan Beach City Council to not sign a Declaration of Apology must be seen for what they are: an attempt to peddle White homogeneity propaganda that only blocks genuine attempts to reveal and understand what has created and supported past and present racial inequities. But most importantly, it anesthetizes genuine attempts at action in the face of injustice. 
 
—Eileen O’Connor, Manhattan Beach

Kudos to police

My letter to all of the police chiefs involved in the arrest of suspects after the deadly shooting in Redondo Beach on 3/6/21.

After the shooting of a resident in the City of Redondo Beach the evening of March 6, and the rapid response by at least 10 local police departments, I felt compelled to write a letter of thanks. Officers responded immediately to 911 calls regarding the shooting and then pursued four suspects into our neighborhood, where they found themselves cornered and bailed out of their vehicle attempting to allude arrest.

In a very short period of time, a multitude of officers converged in our tract with vehicles, helicopters, drones, K-9 units, SWAT teams et. al., and proceeded to search — house-by-house — yard-by-yard — into the wee hours of the next morning until they apprehended all of the suspects.

This letter is to thank you all for going above and beyond the call of duty in your efforts. No mater how dangerous your work is, officers always stand firm in their defense of ordinary citizens. I would like to express my sincerest thanks for your leadership, hard work and commitment in protecting us against these random threats. If not for officers like you and your colleagues, our city wouldn’t be the safe place it is to live, work, and enjoy our families.

Once again, thank you all for your service and hard work.

—Susan Therrien, Redondo Beach

Community garden in Redondo

The City of Redondo Beach should not be giving funds or land to a non-profit organization that has sued the City and continues to raise funds for that purpose on their website, and whose advisory and governing board members include the Mayor, his wife and his political allies. It wouldn’t be prudent. Nor would it be ethical to do so.

I’m grateful that Councilmembers Emdee, Gran and Horvath listened to and read the concerns and support of residents to move forward with a community garden concept that represents the entire community and is not entangled in the controversial South Bay Parkland Conservancy. I hope the Community Garden Committee members can see their way clear of the SBPC and move forward.

It is quite troubling that, at the March 9 Council Meeting, the Mayor felt the need to silence the more than 40 residents who wanted to share their concerns and support via “public comment.” He did so without consent from the Council. Is that even allowed? Shouldn’t our Mayor be listening to the whole community and not just his friends and political allies? I support a community garden, not a political one.

Put the community back in the community garden.

—Maggie Healy, Redondo Beach

Public responsibility

Today nearly one out of five marriages involve mixed-race couples. For Obama to have twice won the presidency required his receiving massive acceptance from all races. Individuals of every race are finding great success in all fields of endeavor.

One hundred years ago it was common to make broad prejudgments about those from many groups, not just racial. One hundred years ago, those of many groups were by deed denied a right to purchase some properties.

Today is not 100 years ago. To lay on today’s public a responsibility for the “sins” of those long dead is a contemporary sin in process. This behavior reveals the sad fact that there are still some verbally skilled people who cannot imagine lives lived without a deep need for a racial identity (in other words, thinking like racists think).

Perhaps those of a leftist bent see their case for racial division dissolving and are trying to revive it. For some, making race important is like overdosing a drug. Once the idea is absorbed egos are stimulated to feel excessively important, virtuous or victimized. The psychological dysfunctions of those advancing this Bruce’s Beach agenda should not be projected onto the vast majority of us who understand there is no reason to attribute any special value or fault to any person because they were born to any race.

I was here when the McMartin case slammed through Manhattan Beach. I thought it had hit the limits of derangement. I was wrong.

—Don Spencer, Manhattan Beach

More on 2-page ad

This paid ad is textbook White fragility. As a helpful suggestion, your network might benefit by reading "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander. "We are a network of many" sounds threatening; it's got a heavy clannish/Klanish ring to it. How does your network know with 100% certainty that Manhattan Beachis not a racist city? How many times have your network's White members been followed in a store? How many Black residents are in your network?

Have you had conversations with the Black students at Manhattan Beach's elementary schools, Manhattan Beach Middle School and Mira Costa? How many conversations?

Did your network speak with the two Black surfers who were recently racially harassed while surfing at the Manhattan Beach Pier?

Why do you wish to prevent a permanent oversight body to pursue discussions about and remedies to improving race relations? How is this possibly detrimental? What are you afraid of?

Why are you anonymous? I put my name to this letter because I believe strongly in racial equality. I believe open, ongoing discussions about this painful and divisive subject are critical. You seem equally passionate; why are you hiding your identities?

—Karen Boysen, Manhattan Beach

Poem about Bruce's Beach

The sordid tale of Bruce’s Beach

Presents for us a truth to teach

The path we choose might still defuse

The simmering strains of racial bigotry

No pious plaque nor ceremony

Can stem the stench of rank baloney

Ejected raw by hate’s defenders,

vile pretenders to the crown of White supremacy

With ball and chain bound to our limb

Our shameful past emerges dim

As childlike, we frolic

in the foam of faithless waves which cannot cleanse repugnant acts

The T's were crossed the I’s were dotted

The KKKs were nowhere spotted

Respectable and proper

turned the turgid gears of government-sanctioned hacks

No finer phrase could mark the weal

Had Willa Bruce cried “Stop the Steal”

While writs and wrecking balls

joined forces in concerted demolition of a noble life

Defying odds with bravery

Emerged at last from slavery

This family stood with stoic pride

Against the mob with sharpened knife

Confront the past? That’s too much trouble

For those protected by the bubble

A bistro beckons, a nail salon

A reckoning disturbs uneasy mind

The fault’s not ours they feebly bleat

Faux innocent heirs of rank deceit

Reparations, restitution

overwhelm the privileged kind

No ‘Cancel’ shall obstruct this tale

Of Founding Fathers we falsely hail

They rest uneasily beneath

The gaudy mansions cruelly sown

They’ve left their mark they couldn’t know

A hundred years from then would grow

The fetid fruit descended from

These characters unknown

Truth will prevail we will atone

As curtain falls our past we own

—Ken Landsman, Manhattan Beach

Appreciation for Hermosa police

My son got his Haro BMX bike stolen at 22nd on the Strand in broad daylight on a crowded Sunday last week. Some punk had the nerve to cut the cable lock and, just like that, $300 gone and an 11-year-old sad and in shock. What does it take nowadays? A larger chain? A U-lock? A car alarm? Or, maybe hire a security guard full time just so we can enjoy a day at the beach without our damn property being stolen?

We filed a report with the Hermosa Beach Police Department. and wanted to share how impressed we were with the department's care, effort and follow through to ensure they were doing their best to recover the bike. This display of genuine care represents the fine character of the department in a small beach town, (I doubt the same would have come from an outsourced police entity as was proposed by some council members a while back).

I thought it would be worthy to remind readers how fortunate we are to have this kind of service. Thank you Sargeant Eric Cahalan, Detective George Brunn and the whole HBPD under the excellent command of Chief Lebaron.

Everyone knows how bunk it is being a victim of any crime, even however small it may be, but its times like these when we really appreciate law enforcement and all they do for us to protect and serve. 

I say, double-fund Hermosa Beach Police Department.

—Andreas Koch, Manhattan Beach

Claims about racism in MB

Although there are conflicting claims about he facts of Bruce Beach, I am confident on one thing. Manhattan Beach is not a racist city. We are a welcoming and open community. The idea that bigoted actions happening many years ago continue to be perpetuated today in the fabric or our town is just silly. It's just people jumping on the woke bandwagon.

We do not need a permanent oversight commission to advise us on our latent "racist" tendencies and to find problems where none exist.

Matt Wilson, Manhattan Beach

Continue BBTF

On February 25th, I attended Bruce’s Beach Task Force’s excellent Community Forum presentation, which was particularly outstanding because of the well-documented, clearly presented history by Kristin Long, based on deep research. (Due to COVID-19 restrictions and a flood at the Los Angeles Hall of Records,, additional information the BBTF has requested is forthcoming.)

Cities across the country have begun to shine a light on similar troubling incidents in their histories.

It is hard to face the fact that our own city forced families out of this community because they were not white. But this is how Democracy works: we learn the truth. We change the systems that created the troubling conditions, we teach new ways of co-existing, and then we change those systems. And in the process, we, too are changed.

I agree with the words of two MB residents:

“I don't think that adding a new plaque to the property is sufficient to right this wrong...”

and

“One common narrative is that MB has been or will be labeled a 'racist city' if the task force is allowed to continue. I think the opposite is true. Addressing this racist incident in our past is complicated. It deserves time and nuanced thought, not a rush to completion.”

To this end, I urge the City Council to support the continuation of the BBTF, a healthy conversation about racism and the underlying practices that support it.

This is how we become a civilized society. And decent human beings.

—April Wayland, Manhattan Beach

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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