Los Angeles, CA

Mitsubishi 'dyslexic' ad criticized

September 11, 2001
Advocates for the learning disabled are accusing Mitsubishi of being insensitive for airing an advertisement saying that a $14,000 sedan "must be dyslexic" because it behaves like a $41,000 car.
     The company began receiving e-mails, faxes and telephone calls protesting the television ad immediately after it aired on Labor Day.
     Mitsubishi Motors of America said it pulled the TV ads as planned after five days and issued a statement expressing regret. However, it said its billboard version of the ad would remain in place in cities around the country through the end of October.
     "It's disappointing that Mitsubishi, with its millions of dollars to invest in advertising, has chosen to trivialize a serious and lifelong disability in order to sell cars," Larry Silver, president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, wrote to the company. 

Black family sues Denny's

August 24, 2001
A black family is suing the Denny's restaurant chain for $10 million, claiming their party of 25 people was refused service.
     The racial discrimination suit was filed this week in Superior Court on behalf of Marcia M. Hooks and her family.
     "What we have is a clear and blatant act of racial discrimination," said Melanie E. Lomax, the family's lawyer. "Denny's continues to preach that they have reformed, but these things continue to happen.

Padilla adds 2 council blacks to key panels

August 09, 2001
Hoping to end the controversy over the racial makeup of his committee assignments, Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla on Wednesday announced that he will include two of the council's three black members on panels dealing with economic, housing and social service issues.
     Padilla said he is expanding the council's Housing and Community Development Committee to include council members Nate Holden, who is African American, and Janice Hahn, a white who represents parts of Watts.
     He said he is also placing black Councilwoman Jan Perry on the Economic Development and Employment Committee, giving her a spot intended for Councilman Joel Wachs. Wachs will instead take Perry's position on the Planning and Land Use Management Committee. Padilla, however, opted to leave Mark Ridley-Thomas' committee assignments unchanged--a move some City Hall officials attribute to a deepening rift between the two men. 

'Minority' has uncertain future

May 08, 2001
In a state where there is no longer a majority racial or ethnic group, some are asking whether there is a future for the word "minority."
      Census figures released in March showed non-Hispanic whites make up 47 percent of California's population – the first time whites were not in the majority since the census began to keep accurate numbers. Hispanics account for 32 percent, Asians 11 percent and blacks 7 percent.
      "You have the fact that you have no ethnic majority now, so if you have no majority, what's minority?" asked Frederick R. Lynch, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "The classification machinery is pretty antique."

Spielberg to quit Boy Scouts board

April 17, 2001
Director Steven Spielberg says he is leaving his post on the advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America because the group excludes gays.
      "The last few years in scouting have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination. It's a real shame," Spielberg said in a statement Monday.
      The Oscar-winning producer and director has been a member of the group's advisory board for about 10 years, said his publicist Marvin Levy.

Groups file lawsuit against Calif. over voting

April 17, 2001
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the state Tuesday, saying punch-card ballots like those that led to problems in Florida violate the civil rights of minority voters. 
    The groups say punch-card voting machines are responsible for
undervotes and overvotes, ballots where the machines don't register a
selection or pick up more than one choice. 
     The equipment must be replaced by next spring to prevent the kind of controversy that delayed for weeks a final count in the presidential election, the plaintiffs said. 
     The ACLU has filed similar lawsuits in Florida, Georgia and Illinois. 

White supremacist pleads guilty of center shootings

January 24, 2001
The white supremacist accused of killing a mail carrier and wounding five people at a Jewish community center pleaded guilty to murder and hate crime charges on Wednesday in a plea bargain that spares him the death penalty.
      Buford O. Furrow pleaded guilty to 16 federal counts stemming from the August 10, 1999, rampage across the San Fernando Valley.
      Handcuffed and shackled, Furrow was thin, clean-shaven and almost completely bald - a far cry from the pudgy, mustachioed man who was arrested last year.
      He answered softly, ``Guilty, your honor,'' 16 times as U.S. District Judge Nora Manella asked if he had committed the crimes.

LA judge halts homeless roundups

December 02, 2000
Police are barred from conducting roundups andother actions against the homeless while a federal judge reviews a civil rights lawsuit that claims officers harass SkidRow's indigent. 
     U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird on Friday outlined the contents ofthe temporary restraining order. She said she would issue a written order Monday. 
     In the meantime, she immediately barred police from stoppinghomeless people without probable cause and searching them for illegal substances.She also ordered them to quit ticketing the homeless for loitering, jaywalking or blocking sidewalks. 
     The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sued lastmonth on behalf of 23 homeless people and three social service agencies. The ACLU claims the police department is violating theplaintiffs' rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom from unreasonable searchesand seizures. 

L.A. cuts ties with Boy Scouts

November 29, 2000
The City Council voted 11 to0 today to cut the city's ties with the Boy Scouts of America, saying the group's exclusion of gays and atheists is discriminatory.
     The vote follows similar moves by municipalities, police departments and groups across the country displeased at a Supreme Court decision in June that upheld the Scouts' right to exclude gays.
     The court ruled 5 to 4 that the group has a right to set a moral code and espouse its own viewpoint.
     But council members said city law prevents relationships with groups that discriminate. "Both the spirit and the content of existing city law are very clear," Councilman Mike Feuer said. 

L.A. transit agency sued for ADA violations

November 16, 2000
Three civil rights groupsThursday sued Los Angeles County's transit agency for allegedly failing to meet the transportationneeds of tens of thousands of disabled riders. 
     The organizations filed suit in U.S. District Court naming six disabledriders who say they have waited for hours to be picked up and have sometimes been left stranded without a ride. The groups are seekingclass-action status for the lawsuit, saying as many as 41,000 Southern Californians are affected. 
     They say the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and thecompany it contracts to provide almost all the MTA's transportation for the disabled,Access Services Inc., are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law requires that a transit agency provide so-calledparatransit service that is "comparable" to its regular public transportation. 
     Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that means disabled people should notbe  required to wait any longer, should not have to book further in advanceand should be able to take public transportation to any place serving the general public. The suit was filed by the American CivilLiberties Union, Western Law Center, and Protection and Advocacy Inc. 


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