The murder of Autumn Johnson, a year-old girl who was shot and killed, last week in the 300 block of North Holly Avenue in Compton, is still sending shockwaves throughout the community.
Shortly before 7 p.m., the child’s mother, Blanche Wandick, was preparing a bottle for her child when she heard gunshots. The child was standing in her crib when she was shot in the head.
Sheriff’s officials said that a gunman got out of a blue Chevrolet Impala, walked toward the home and fired at the garage. The gunman then got back in the car, which was seen heading south on North Holly Avenue.
Investigators are trying to determine what prompted the violence and whether it was related to a gang dispute. They believe Autumn’s father, Darrell Johnson, may have been the target of the attack.
Authorities said that Johnson heard the gunfire and ran to the garage. Inside, he found the baby and Wandick, who was hysterical.
Deputies took Autumn to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where she was pronounced dead.
The following day this writer went to the family home to offer condolences as well as to offer any support the family needed. I was joined by Compton City Councilwoman Emma Sharif, Compton school board member Leslie Irving, Khalid Shah, CEO of Stop the Violence Increase the Peace Foundation; Imam Ameen Omar of Long Beach and Umar Hakim of the Ilm Foundation, as well as dozens of family and community members.
I was honored to lead an impromptu candlelight vigil in memory of baby Autumn. The following evening hundreds of community residents and activists came out to support the grieving family with another vigil.
Needless to say baby Autumn’s murder resonated throughout the city and everyone did their best to help offer aid and support to the family. That includes the local politicians who represent the area.
Mayor Aja Brown and the Compton City Council have offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of baby Autumn’s killer.
Not to be outdone, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also introduced a motion to allocate an additional $50,000 in reward money. The family and community are still reeling from this shocking and brutal murder. Let’s keep the family in our prayers.
Anyone with information is asked to call the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477
Speaking of Compton, last weekend Mayor Brown presented hip hop artist and Compton native Kendrick Lamar the key to the city. It was a well deserved honor and the event was attended by hundreds of community residents. Kendrick Lamar continues to be not just the talk of his hometown but after his electrifying performance at Monday night’s Grammy Awards he became the talk of the nation.
Lamar’s performance was breathtaking and culturally important. This young man is the present and future of hip-hop and we salute him for using his art in the same manner that R&B singer Beyoncé did at the Super Bowl to make a socially and powerful conscious statement that has the nation talking.
And finally it appears that Assemblyman Mike Gipson representing the 64th California Assembly District is going to be in for the fight of his political life. He now has a formidable challenger in Marta A. Segura, who has officially announced her candidacy for the 64th Assembly District seat.
As a health advocate and civic leader, Segura stands for a united voice. She believes that with her bold leadership, a multicultural alliance of engaged community members can create change and pathways for cleaner, healthier, safer neighborhoods, more jobs and better schools in the 64th Assembly District, which stretches from South Los Angeles through Compton and Carson to part of Long Beach.
She launches her 2016 campaign with the support and endorsement of multiple chapters of the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the South Bay Communities for a Better Environment Action has chosen Marta as its first political endorsement ever.
A growing multicultural roster of community leaders and advocates are endorsing Segura to spur real change in the district. Segura has been a proud resident of South Los Angeles for 14 years, and feels grounded by its diversity.
“I support Marta Segura because we need an Assembly person who has a history of fighting for environmental justice,” said Dianne Thomas, a member of the Carson Coalition, an organization dedicated to preserving a clean and safe environment. “It is time for voters to stop electing oil-bought candidates whose only interest is how fast they can line their own pockets.”
Segura is waging a progressive grassroots campaign to bring the health, safety and economic needs of her community to the forefront of the political process, something she feels is sorely lacking in the district, which has experienced a historical pattern of neglect and voicelessness.
“The current incumbent won his seat in the last election with anything but a moral majority,” Segura said. “My opponent received fewer than 30,000 votes in a district with 217,000 registered voters and over 470,000 residents. That tells me he doesn’t represent the will of the people, who are suffering from contaminated air and water, sub-par public schools, rising unemployment and violence, and no voice at the political table.”
Segura is a former member of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission who voted for affordable housing, innovative economic development, environmental and health policies, and other measures to improve life for working class and working poor Angelenos. She comes from a long line of activists and change-makers, from her grandfathers who fought for reform during the Mexican Revolution to her mother, who fought for safer working conditions and pay equity for women in California’s canneries in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
It’s no surprise that she became a change agent. Segura was a statewide leader for an environmental justice organization, and later fought for more public parks in South Los Angeles. She was also a worker’s rights advocate at the UCLA Labor Center, and brought the dialogue of equity front and center to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
“As your Assembly member, I will fight for safe, clean, healthy and connected communities,” Segura said. “Some of my chief priorities are reforming our criminal justice system, creating high-wage jobs, reducing income inequality, increasing access to quality education, expanding environmental justice and enhancing neighborhood security. I aim to rebuild the social fabric of our communities and unite our voices for real change.”
“Marta has exemplified a steadfast leadership in her previous roles as a district director for then-City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, as a planning commissioner, and while augmenting the voices of community members as a community organizer,” said Miguel Luna, founder of Urban Semillas.
Other recent endorsements include Jonathan Parfrey, founder of CicLAvia; and Gary Gero, former president of Climate Action Reserve.
In addition to being a public health advocate, Segura is currently a small business owner who consults nonprofit organizations and government agencies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA. For more information about Marta Segura and her campaign for State Assembly, and more statements of endorsement, visit www.SeguraforAssembly.com. Assemblyman Gipson, I’m waiting to hear from you as well. You know how to reach me.
For news tips, email Brothernajeeali@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at Najeeali.