Archive for May, 2015

Just came in from a screening of “San Andreas” starring The Rock. Ever since I saw the trailer, I understood the film to be all about disaster, action, adventure, but in the back of my mind, I was a bit fearful to see on the big screen what could probably, no – likely be a depiction of Los Angeles when the Big One hits. All my life, as a native Californian, we have been told about the impending “Big One”. Cali is supposed to break off and fall into the sea, making Las Vegas America’s newest seaside city. San Andreas is a vivid film adaptation as to what that looks like,

San Andreas has its share of action and The Rock is always good in his action hero status. But seriously, this movie left me feeling some kind of way. For some, this film could be fantasy. An exciting joy ride full of thrills, awesome rescues and unimaginable heroism.. But for some of us, this mess is real. And in the back of our minds, we were like whoa…  A reaction made even more intense due to the fact that we have been having small tremors fairly regularly around here, most centered in the Baldwin Hills area. Personally I think the fracking going on in the Baldwin Hills is causing this rash of tremors but I digress.

Anticipation of the screening brought back vivid memories of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. I had never been in such a violent and destructive quake.4:30 in the morning, sleeping like a baby and then BAM!! a MAJOR shaker.  I lost my entire crystal collection, mirrors and tables broke.. We could not open the front door to our apartment and had to climb out on the balcony and shimmy down to the street. It was a major situation. The buildings in my block had collapsed, shattered windows, major damage. It was plenty scary.

San Andreas brought to the big screen a very real viewpoint of how vulnerable the area is to a catastrophic event. We would be brought to our knees if an earthquake of 9-plus hit Southern California. We need to keep an earthquake survival kit handy. We need to have a plan of action in the event of such a disaster. Me and mine have instructions to meet at the Cathedral. We will survive from there. In the words of the scientists in the movie, it’s not a question of if, but when disaster will strike.

Biblically speaking, we are told to watch for such a time as this. Earthquakes in diverse places, the Word says and I am seeing quakes in locales where we did not have them before. Besides, the way mankind has damaged the world and the climate, I’m thinking it’s almost payback time for the forces of nature. Yes, the ultra-magnitude earthquake is inevitable.

In the end, you must have a plan of survival. Prepare yourselves. We could be in for society changing events. And soon..Yeah.. San Andreas.. left me feeling some kind of way…

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General Jeff Skid Row Activist

I’ve just come in from the funeral of Charly Lendeu Keunang aka Africa. It is the culmination of a very long and sometimes stressful journey. You may remember Charly. He was gunned down on the mean streets of skid row by the Los Angeles Police Department. It was a shooting that took place amid the national epidemic of police involved shootings that finds black men dead in cases where other methods could have seemingly been utilized. The shooting was deemed justified so once again, officers get away with what appears to be murder.

Allow me to briefly share and describe the Journey that’s got us here today.  On Sunday night March 1, I saw the news.. you saw the news… millions saw the news… I saw the youtube video.. you saw the youtube video… millions saw the youtube video. There was a struggle…. LAPD shoots and kills a homeless man on Skid Row….

The narrative quickly emerged that this man attempted to take an officers gun – a feat that seems nearly impossible in my eyes especially as one is getting wrestled, tazed PLUS 6 rough and tumble LAPD officers are there to take the man into custody. Besides the officer’s armaments are designed to prevent such an easy snatch…..

The narrative quickly emerged that Brother Africa was a mentally ill homeless man living on Skid Row…. They said he did time in the penitentiary… They say he used a stolen identity… The positioning of the entire narrative was designed to discredit and say to society that this man was someone who we could just throw away and forget about. It gave the general market a chance to say ok. well.. it’s ok that they killed him. No one knows him anyway.

Charles Keunang, the homeless man who was fatally shot by police on Skid Row, was laid to rest at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles Saturday, May 16, 2015.

Concerned citizens gathered in the sanctuary of Holman United Methodist Church to honor the life of Charly L. Keunang (left), killed by LAPD on Skid Row

It is here that the LORD moved in my heart. Skid Row is a troubling place to be.. It is rock bottom for many.It’s the proverbial no-brainer to note that something happened in the man’s life that got him to Skid Row in the first place. So why focus so much on his past? Why so assertive to advance such a denigrating description of Africa? Why assassinate his character? Does this give way to society’s approval of the hard hand of deadly force used in this case by the LAPD? Because the man made certain choices in life does this give you cause to shoot to kill? Africa is a child of God.. even in his condition… Even in his struggle of life on earth, God loves him…. Jesus loves him… and so I was led to personally go out on Skid Row to seek the answer to the question who is Africa? How did his neighbors and loved ones in context of the Skid Row community know him? Where is his family?

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Charly’s grieving mother….

For 8 evenings I went out on Skid Row talking to residents of the street… I called my activist friends… I called General Jeff – I know he is active on Skid Row.. I called Najee Ali – I know he’s going to be on the case… I even called Reverend Andy Bale of the Union Rescue Mission…. What are we going to do? What do you know? I believe there is a different narrative than what we are hearing on the news… This is a human being we are talking about.. In spite of his choices, in spite of his condition this man needs to be funeralized…. He needs to be memorialized…. If we don’t act he will be thrown away… another anonymous homeless person discarded by the system…….

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Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Pastor Holman United Methodist Church

Jeff and Najee urged me to go to a meeting held by the Community Action Network where they introduced me to Pete White. And so we went to work…. Seeking to have a memorial service. Reverend Andy Bale used his
influence to put me in contact with the highest level of the County Medical Examiner’s office…. I wanted to find out what they would do with the Body… It was through this contact that I learned Africa’s true name. It was through this contact that I learned that Charly has a family. It was through this contact that I learned that Charly was Cameroonian. And that the family had enlisted the support of David Singui to handle their affairs in this tragic time.

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Minister Gregory L. Johnson             West Angeles Church of God in Christ     KJLH Radio

I had to searched the internet to make contact with David, and in that search I met Cameroonians from Arkansas who told me that they could find him. The next day, they introduced me to Emanuel Nahslai one of the family’s legal representatives. David reached out to me and we connected and began this journey together. I was led by the Lord to reach out to Rev. Kelvin Sauls who up until this point I had not formally met but I knew that his church broadcasts on 102.3 Radio Free KJLH where I serve as the Marketing Director. I also knew that he is from South Africa and could be a powerful catalyst for the mobilization of Africans and African-Americans in this case.

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David Gedeon Singui President, Cameroonian Community-LA

And so two months later, we are gathered together… Africans, African-Americans and those who are concerned about black life… Those who would say no to unbridled Police violence.. Those who agree that Charly Lendeu Keunang deserves the dignity of a funeral… the dignity of memorialization and the unity of community to bring peace and offer condolence to his family…. We have found Charly… and we honor his life