Written by Tina Sampay for L.A Focus Newspaper
South Central, Los Angeles–South Central residents are still dealing with the consequences of the Los Angeles Police Department’s decision to detonate illegal fireworks in their residential neighborhood. Although people have been able to return to their homes after being temporarily displaced, remnants of the issue still ring loud.
The impact not only imploded the entire LAPD containment truck, it shattered the windows of several homes and sent debris flying into cars parked nearby. As ashes filled the air, so did an intense odor of gas.
“I honestly feel like LAPD as an organization must be re-evaluated. It makes no sense to me who would think this was a good idea,” Devon Williams said.
Williams is a local activist and community organizer. He is also involved in the South Central Neighborhood Council and a current student at the University of Southern California.
“I would like to see all folks who own property, life, pets or anything damaged to be compensated with funds. A big mistake was made which could have escalated into something worse,” Williams continued.
The approximately 32,0000 pounds of illegal fireworks that were detonated had been recovered from the home of 27-year-old Arturo Cejas III, who was taken into custody after neighbors tipped police to “suspicious” activity.
Cejas has since been charged with transporting explosive devices without license as well as child endangerment charges, due to his 10-year-old brother being at the residence during the time of his arrest.
Local organizations around the 27th and San Pedro street community, as well as the local Neighborhood Council, continue to demand accountability from city officials and LAPD on behalf of residents.
They have held press conferences and are working with local law firms to provide resources directly to impacted residents.
“When people were first reaching out for support, the city was not returning their calls and sometimes it wears people out. We reached out to a local clinic that has therapy staff because people were not made aware of what was happening and just heard a loud boom,” Adriana Cabrera said.
Cabrera is a community organizer who recently placed her bid to run in Los Angeles City Council District 9, where the explosion happened.
One of the barriers is that the area’s undocumented residents fear retaliation from police if they ask for compensation from the blast.
Cabrera said that some residents received $2000 gift cards, which has only furthered their apprehension of demanding accountability from city leaders.
Community members like Cabrera who created a mutual aid fund for South Central residents during the coronavirus pandemic, have donated her time to help translate the claim site for residents. The site is in English, which is a huge barrier for some residents who only speak spanish.
The blast not only damaged property, it has also taken an emotional and mental toll due to how loud the blast was. Cabrera said that support for hearing has also been requested by residents and that it triggered PTSD for some older residents in the community.
Caberea canvassed the community after the blast, which she said reached several blocks and some of that damage is not counted for in LAPD’s statistics, which concerns her.