There is no doubt that what happened to the Bruce Family was grossly unfair. We need to acknowledge the racist acts of the past so we learn from it and make sure it is never forgotten nor repeated.
Restitution, Restoration and Reparations
Over the course of 100 years the Bruce family presumably had access to legal recourse to pursue any apparent or provable legal basis to a claim. The two dozen other families, Black and white, reinvested their payments into other land and properties within the boundaries of Manhattan Beach. Another complicating factor is the city’s limitation on gifting public funds. Also, there is no way to know if the Bruce’s enterprise would have survived the challenges of Prohibition (1920-1933) and the Great Depression (1929-1941) which ravaged many businesses and family fortunes.
As such, my position is that there can be no restitution, restoration or reparations of funds or assets to the Bruce Family from the City of Manhattan Beach.
Honor the Past with a new Memorial
The full history should be displayed in an unvarnished and frank manner. Let’s not perpetrate the sin of omission. Bring the entire story to light as was attempted in 2006. I am in favor of recommissioning a more appropriate memorial to the Bruce Family in the immediate area of the existing park or on the Strand by the County Lifeguard Station.
Mobile History Exhibit
Along with this step, I propose a mobile historical exhibit be created so residents across the city can view and learn the Bruce’s story. The 2012 Centennial Committee, of which I was a member, created a mobile exhibit of Manhattan Beach’s 100 year history. Throughout the Centennial Year it was taken to all parts of the city including the Pier, Manhattan Village Mall, the Creative Arts Center and Polliwog Park. Thousands of residents and visitors were able to view it. The mobile historical exhibit could reside in the County Library, Joslyn Center, City Hall or rotate among the schools when it is not traveling.
Teach the Bruce Family history in Manhattan Beach Schools
Along with this I would suggest that our school system develop the necessary curriculum to teach the story of the Bruces in all our schools. This is an opportunity to bring to life, and provide perspective on, issues of civil rights, discrimination, and peaceful protest. This curriculum could take shape like the Mission Project in the fourth grade where students study the material and take a field trip to see the subject matter firsthand.
I’m in favor of developing each of the above items with a Task Force dedicated to Bruce's Beach.
Moving forward, I ask only that Manhattan Beach residents are judged,
not for the racist acts perpetrated by past generations,
but for how our residents react to any such acts in the present.
On August 15, 2020, former Mayor Mitch Ward sent the following email with six (6) questions to all 2020 Manhattan Beach City Council Candidates.
Here are my replies:
BRUCE’S BEACH- JOE FRANKLIN- RESPONSE TO MITCH WARD QUESTIONS:
From: Mitch Ward
Sent: Aug 15, 2020 5:19 PM
To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Subject: Congratulations. I have six questions....
August 15, 2020
Dear Candidates for Manhattan Beach City Council,
Congratulations. I respect your bravery and commitment to serve. Good luck.
I have six questions I would like you to respond to as I consider where my household will share our six votes on November 3, 2020. I will be publishing your responses or non-responses to my website mitchward.com, my newsletter, various blogs, local press and other social media locations for your information. Feel free to provide a public contact email, telephone, and web address with your responses. Thank you in advance.
1) What is your full position on Bruce’s Beach and the Change.Org online petition (currently signed by over 12,500 people) regarding Bruce’s Beach? Please feel free to share with me anything you would like to in regards to Bruce’s Beach.
See my position above.
Moving forward, I ask only that Manhattan Beach residents are judged, not for the racist acts perpetrated by past generations, but for how our residents react to any such acts in the present.
2) What will you do to alter the perceived or real notion that Manhattan Beach is not a city welcoming to Black and Brown people? What policy proposals will you recommend to be implemented by Manhattan Beach City Council which would ensure that people of color know that they are always fairly and equally treated when they encounter our police officers?
All are welcome in Manhattan Beach. I don’t share the idea that Manhattan Beach is not a welcoming city. My children were active in sports and played many games with opposing teams made up of people of color while their team was predominately white. I never witnessed (nor would have tolerated) any bad language or bad behavior on any side of the field. And, I never witnessed such behavior when we were the visiting team at other venues. That’s not to say it never happened but I would not characterize Manhattan Beach as an unwelcoming city.
We elected a two term Black Mayor. We have a Black Police Chief who, for thirty years, worked his way up the ranks. We came together as a community to comfort and support the Clinton family when they were the victim of a hate crime. I don’t see Black residents wanting to leave Manhattan Beach, which would be the case if they felt unwelcome. I see our stores and restaurants welcoming people of color and I see them enjoying the beaches and pier, all without incident.
3) How do you feel about staff, other than police, being available and on-call to handle quality of life issues (construction, noise, etc.) on holidays, weekends, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays? Will you commit to reviewing all weekend construction ordinances and strengthen protections for residents against such noises where need be?
Enforcement is something I will take very seriously. We have banned cigarette smoking outside, yet I have never seen a citation issued. Same for failure to pick up after pets, and citations for pets on the pier.
I suggest we prioritize violations by the degree to which they are a public nuisance and start dedicating our limited code enforcement resources to these high-nuisance violations. If it makes sense to use police officers, since they are available 24/7, then they should be used before authorizing staff with possible overtime implications or raising the full-time employee count, both of which have a negative impact on budgets.
4) What will you do to ensure all small businesses in Manhattan Beach, including those on the Sepulveda Blvd, Rosecrans Ave, Aviation Blvd, Artesia Blvd and other corridors are afforded equal consideration when it comes to our city’s local subsidies that have not traditionally been aimed at assisting and promoting these businesses outside the downtown corridor?
The best approach to ensure small businesses are well-represented is to form formal or informal business associations to better represent the collective needs of the group. The Downtown Professional and Business Association is a good example. Ad Hoc committees can be formed for special mutual areas of interest like grants, or special development funds available from the city or state. Sharing these resources saves time and provides a wider awareness of available resources and solutions.
Another good example was when there was a measure in 2019 to raise the hotel Transient Occupancy Tax. The hotels in Manhattan Beach formed an association to collectively give them a bigger voice with the city in the crafting the measure and use of the funds.
5) If you are financially supported by an organization or a Political Action Committee (PAC) will you fully disclose these groups on your printed political literature where possible and always on your political website? Feel free to provide your web link URL of this disclosure with your answer.
I am not funded by any PAC. I am funded by personal contributions to my campaign and by contributions from individuals, all duly disclosed and reported, as required by law.
6) I began the Manhattan Beach Youth Recognition Award scholarship in the early 2000s. It was given out annually to one Manhattan Beach student and a Los Angeles County inner city student who possessed academic excellence and who needed financial assistance to achieve their dream to attend higher education after high school. Will you commit to start your own program similar to the MBYRA while on city council or encourage your council colleagues to fund one similar to the MBYRA that will assist young minority students of need annually?
Yes. I have two initiatives I’d like to pursue to provide assistance for academic excellence and to assist and mentor high- risk, or at-risk students. I cannot provide details of the first one as it requires coordinating with an existing scholarship program which I could help to expand.
The other program is the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. I was a Big Brother and it was a valuable and fulfilling experience for my Little Brother and me. We have an amazing reservoir of talent amongst our public and private high school students who, with as little as one hour per week, could participate in the Big Brother High School Mentoring program or the College Preparation program to support mentees with their successful transition to college. We could involve our robust Older Adults Program for mentoring, as well. There are several city resources we can reasonably bring forth to make a positive, long term impact with inner city youth within these two programs.
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