Articles

November 29, 2018 

By Jennifer Bihm 

Contributing Writer 

 

The Civil Service Commission revoked Watts Towers Art Center Director Rosie Lee Hooks’ suspension recently, however Friends of Watts Towers members say they now want an apology from the city and they are asking community members to join them in petitioning for one. The Department of Cultural Affairs is leaving in authority the official who knowingly presented false testimony that caused Hooks’ suspension, they said. They are calling the situation “disrespectful” and “a slap in the face” to the Watts Community.

 

“We feel disrespected,” said FOWT board member, Ed Lander who joined other members in composing the apology letter.

 

“A person who has done so much for the Watts community, as an educator for so many years… she at least deserves an apology”.

 

“A person who lied under oath, and whose testimony was the cause of her suspension should at least apologize,” agreed fellow board member Chioma Agbahiwe.

 

Hooks was suspended in April after she failed to get proper permission for a mural of jazz great Charles Mingus, who grew up in Watts, on the campus’ Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center building. Friends say that when DCA officials told Hooks and the artist Jacori Perry to stop painting, they complied. Hooks wasn’t notified of her suspension until months later.

 

But on September 13 the Civil Service Commission revoked Hooks’ suspension after it was proven she had been unaware of the permission rules, which were stated at meeting she was not a part of.

 

“While providing world-class services to the community and all the visitors to the Watts Towers, Ms. Hooks and her staff remain working for a department that appears intent to remove its director for her advocacy for Watts, instead of giving the site the greater resources it needs and deserves,” the Friends wrote in a statement released to the public.

 

“One commissioner called the entire case “ridiculous and a waste of time,” reads a part of the letter.

 

“On October 16, at the Mayor’s Office WTAC Interdepartmental Task Force meeting – before a City Commissioner, representatives of your office, other city departments and community groups – [DCA General Manager] MS. [Danielle] BRAZELL REFUSED TO APOLOGIZE FOR MS. HOOKS’ SUSPENSION OR TO REMOVE MR. THOMAS FROM HIS SUPERVISORY DUTIES OVER THE WTAC CAMPUS… ‘IN ACCORDANCE,’ she said, ‘WITH MY OATH TO UPHOLD THE LOS ANGELES CITY CHARTER.’ With disrespect to Watts, dismissing community concerns and belying her own understanding of the City Charter, Ms. Brazell refused to even acknowledge the official findings of the Civil Service Commission or the ethical questions DCA’s actions have raised. This is entirely unacceptable,” the Friends wrote in the letter.

 

“We believe there’s something we’re not being told,” said Lander, who also said that the suspension was part of a “three-year effort to bring repeated charges of wrongdoing against Hooks”.

 

“[It’s as if] they have some intention for the site.”

 

The statement continued, “Please join us to demand justice from the city of Los Angeles for Ms. Hooks and Watts.”

 

For those who wish to participate, they are asking:

 

• “Put your name to the letter below (under “signed”)

 

• Make whatever changes in the letter you feel will best reflect your perspective. 

 

• Copy and paste in the Subject line: “Mr. Mayor, Concern about honesty in your administration” Copy and paste the Mayor’s email address in the TO line.

 

• Copy and paste all the other email addresses in the CC line

 

• Send!”

 

“Please help us protect the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, its director and its staff so they can continue to work for the people of Watts, for the City of Los Angeles and for the true spirit of art embodied in Rodia’s Towers.”

 

For the entire letter and information on where to send visit: https://www.facebook.com/I-Build-the-Tower-160894650597457/ or https://www.facebook.com/The-Watts-Towers-Common-Ground-Initiative-162986047047905/.

Category: Community


Taste of Soul Sponsors