Long Beach officials speak out on a ‘crisis on three sides’

Long Beach and other cities across the country have grappled with the coronavirus pandemic, and now the economic fallout.

This week, after George Floyd was suffocated by a white officer in Minneapolis, a new crisis has emerged: Riots and protests sweeping across the country.

“We’re facing a crisis on three sides,” said Councilman Rex Richardson, who joined Police Chief Robert Luna, community groups and members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at a food giveaway in North Long Beach Saturday morning.

As about 100 volunteers, most of them black, gathered to dole out 1,200 boxes of food at Jordan High School to those in need. Richardson encouraged them to share their experiences with police.

“There’s a lot of people getting hurt right now and we need to figure out a way to come together and talk about it,” he said.

Councilman Rex Richardson speaks with volunteers during a food distribution event in North Long Beach. Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Richardson said he’s praying for the people protesting—”I understand the sentiment, I get it, I completely get it, as a young black man”—but also the first responders trying to mitigate the violence.

Luna said the police department is “on watch” today after protests erupted into riots across the country for the last four nights over the death of Floyd, including in Downtown Los Angeles. Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer handcuffed him, pinned him to the ground and pressed his knee on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Video of the arrest showing Floyd saying “I can’t breathe,” has sparked protests across the country.

Hundreds of people were arrested Friday night in Downtown LA after police there declared an “unlawful assembly” and ordered people to leave.

“I’m really worried about what I see on television and I hope it doesn’t happen here,” Luna said.

He said he and the volunteers at the food distribution today had the same goals: to work together and help those in need.

“Last night, in Los Angeles, property was being damaged and destroying communities,” Richardson said. “And in Long Beach, we’re up early on a Saturday and we’re helping people, and building up our community. That’s the image that America needs to highlight.”

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna speaks with volunteers at a food distribution event at Jordan High School in North Long Beach. Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteer James Leassear prepares to load a car with food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Volunteers load cars with box’s of food at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Cars line up at a food distribution event at Jordan High School in North Long Beach on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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