Welcome to East LA Weekly

In this issue, we look at how an organization is working to prevent sexual assault and abuse in East LA; we remember an Eastside war hero on Veterans Day; and we ponder the future of our ‘Tamale’ building. Puede leer una versión en español de este boletín aquí.

We welcome your feedback. Please contact me with ideas and suggestions at antonio@theeastsiderla.com.

Antonio Mejías-Rentas, Editor | East LA Weekly

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Promotoras play a key role in the work of East LA Women’s Center


The Boyle Heights Promotora Collective trained by the East LA Women's Center.

Violence against women has been on the rise during the coronavirus crisis, says an East LA group that works with victims. But a team of volunteers called “promotoras” are hard at work to assist the victims and prevent future trouble with information and outreach.

East Los Angeles Women’s Center runs the Promotora Institute, which trains local volunteers as paraprofessional health workers. The women are taught to identify signs of domestic violence and to direct victims to available services and resources – and encourage them to report criminal acts, when necessary.

“A lot of women may be afraid of immigration [authorities], of losing their children,” said Heidy Rodriguez, a development manager at the center. “Promotoras are a bridge to the community that we can’t reach.”

The promotoras are more important than ever as stress and isolation related to stay-at-home orders has resulted in a noticeable increase in cases, Rodriguez said.

“We have upwards of 200 chats on our website, of women and families seeking help,” Rodríguez said. “Prior to the pandemic, we rarely had chats in our chatline.”

The organization’s 24/7 crisis hotline has already exceeded the 4,000 calls it received last year, she added. The group is also poised to surpass the 350 unsheltered women they provided services to in 2019, as well as the number of families to which they provided temporary housing.

“It’s a pandemic within a pandemic,” said center executive director Barbara Kappos at the organization’s 23rd annual Mujeres de Paz Candlelight Vigil last month. The virtual event memorialized victims of domestic violence.

Founded in 1976 as Southern California’s first bilingual, 24-hour crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault, the center has expanded to provide therapy, crisis intervention and other services and resources to women as well as men victimized by human trafficking and domestic violence. A key element in community outreach is its promotora program.

María Magdalena Leonel, a lead promotora in East Los Angeles, says that many of the women she trains at first have a hard time identifying gender-based violence.

“When we work with them, they realize it’s not only physical or sexual abuse, but also verbal and psychological/emotional,” the 46-year-old survivor of domestic violence said in Spanish.

Leonel said that as they train, many of the promotoras go through a process of working through their own issues at home.

“They begin to see that their own experiences can help other women realize that they too can get ahead and be strong and valiant women, and above all, self sufficient.”


Health officials focus on hardest-hit areas

County health officials are dramatically expanding outreach efforts in the areas hardest hit by a "real and alarming" surge in COVID-19 cases, including East Los Angeles. They warned that residents need to take extra precautions to ward off infections

The county had roughly 60 people assigned to educate residents about slowing transmission of the virus. But last week it trained another 170 promotoras who will begin fanning out this week, The Eastsider reported.

East Los Angeles continues to be one of the county’s most-impacted communities, with the highest case count among unincorporated areas and one of the highest rates of infection in all of the county. As of Tuesday, the county’s dashboard showed that rate at 6,011 per 100,000 residents. That compares to a county-wide rate of 3,129. 

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Here are the latest East LA numbers:

  • 35 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
  • As of Tuesday, a total of 7,530 cases have been reported.
  • In the last seven days, four new deaths were reported. Total number of deaths is now 120

County eviction moratorium extended

moratorium on evictions that was to expire at the end of the month has been extended through Jan. 31, 2020. The moratorium prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19, as well as no-fault reasons, nuisance, or unauthorized occupants or pets (if related to COVID-19). 


Roybal-Allard reelected to Congress

Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard was reelected to a 15th term in Congress with a commanding majority over Republican challenger C. Antonio Delgado. With 76% of votes counted, the incumbent had 131,665 of the votes, or 72.94%, while Delgado had 48,839, or 27.06%, according to figures released Tuesday. Roybal-Allard represents the 40th Congressional District, which includes East LA.

At the state level, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo ran unopposed and garnered 100% of the vote in the 51st District, which represents East LA.

Veterans’ Day commemorated

Members of East Los Angeles’ American Legion Post 804 are expected at Wednesday’s annual Veterans Day commemoration at the Mexican American All Wars Memorial at Cinco Puntos, where César Chávez, Indiana and Lorena meet, right on the border of East LA and Boyle Heights. Area elected officials are scheduled to attend the 11 am ceremony.

Post 804 is named after Boyle Heights native Eugene Arnold Obregón, a U.S. Marine who posthumously earned a Medal of Honor for shielding a wounded comrade from enemy fire with his body during a battle in the Korean War. A seven-acre park on First Street in East LA is also named after Obregón.

La Luz del Mundo leader goes on trial

Trial is set to begin Nov.12 in the case of La Luz del Mundo church leader Naason Joaquín García, who has pleaded not guilty to counts of human trafficking, forcible rape of a minor and possession of child pornography. According to the Los Angeles Times, a co-defendant who led a youth group at the East LA congregation and was accused of grooming underage victims for García’s sexual pleasure, is alleging that she suffered years of sexual abuse as a minor from García’s father and has entered a plea deal in the case. A third co-defendant is awaiting trial.

East LA ‘Tamale’ endangered

The future of a former East LA eatery built in 1928 to resemble a tamal is in doubt, according to a Long Beach Press Telegram article about “programmatic architecture.” “There’s certainly a question about its future because it’s not in operation for something that is showcasing the building as it was originally intended,” said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy. The East LA ‘Tamale’ has been vacant for years. Buildings shaped like hats, doughnuts and other objects were common in Southern California in the early 20th Century. (The article incorrectly states that the eatery, at 6421 Whittier Blvd., is in Boyle Heights.)


Man and woman killed Saturday night

A man and a woman were shot to death Saturday night in a parking lot in the 3900 block of Olympic Boulevard, just east of Indiana, The Eastsider reported.  A Sheriff’s spokesperson said both victims were found unconscious suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. It was not known if the shooting was gang related. They are the 16th and 17th murder victims reported in East Los Angeles so far this year.

Thanks for reading the East LA Weekly!

Don't forget to contact me with ideas and suggestions at antonio@theeastsiderla.com.

Puede leer una versión en español de este boletín aquí

See you next week!

Antonio Mejías-Rentas

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