The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to have the Los Angeles Police Department replenish Councilman Curren Price's office's Environmental Equity and Justice Fund after he used $1 million from it to assist constituents affected by a massive explosion set off by an LAPD bomb squad.
“In the three months since the LAPD fireworks explosion on 27th Street, my office has been at the center of disaster relief efforts, realizing early on that immediate monetary support was needed to provide aid to the victims,” Price said.
“Within weeks, my office had established a $1 million Emergency Relief Fund that would help neighbors with cleanup, repairs, longer-term corporate housing and financial assistance. I have been clear on my stance that the funds taken from my office's Reimagining Public Safety dollars needed to be paid back by LAPD.
“My primary interest has been to hold LAPD accountable for their actions, which is exactly what we did today in council by transferring more than $1 million from the LAPD back into the CD 9 community as it was intended. This morning, my colleagues joined me in standing up for our neighbors, as we continue to seek justice for the victims of this tragedy.”
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The fund will be replenished from “various LAPD expense accounts,” according to the motion.
The June 30 detonation of a large cache of fireworks on East 27th Street, near San Pedro Street, sent 17 residents and first responders to hospitals, destroyed a bomb squad truck and damaged 22 residences, 13 businesses and 37 vehicles.
Emergency Management Department General Manager Carol Parks told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Sept. 21 that 88 people are still displaced from their homes awaiting repairs.
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The Los Angeles City Council on Sept. 21 also passed legislation to identify $5 million -- in part from the LAPD's budget -- to assist recovering residents.
According to Michael Hoffman, special agent in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Los Angeles office, the LAPD's containment vessel was designed to handle repeated detonations of 19 pounds of TNT equivalent at a time or a single detonation of 33 pounds of explosives before being returned to its manufacturer for analysis.
However, the LAPD bomb squad miscalculated the amount of fireworks placed into a containment vessel, resulting in a massive explosion that damaged several residences in South Los Angeles. Officers had loaded the truck with 39.85 pounds of explosives, Hoffman said. LAPD personnel visually estimated the weight of the explosives to be about 16 pounds.
Price and Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents more affluent Westside communities, introduced a motion to order a report on the city's protocols providing compensation to victims of city-caused disasters, citing discrepancies in how the city responded to the fireworks blast in South Los Angeles compared to a July 11 sewage spill on the Westside.
“The discrepancy of these two responses, with (LA Sanitation and Environment) subsidizing residents to relocate due to the Hyperion sewage spill, versus households displaced by the LAPD explosion being left to wait for assistance found by their council member, lays bare inequities in the response by city departments to various communities throughout the city,” the motion stated.