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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Fight Back Venice Provides Bomb Threat Scenario and LAPD Summary Statements

Was there really a bomb threat to the Bridge Housing project on the MTA lot at Sunset or was it a couple of NO2 and CO2 cartridges modified to spin like tops? Were they really on the lot or in an adjacent area? — or both? The rumors continue. Venice Update eagerly awaits an official statement by the police.

Fight Back Venice has written a scenario of the events that have transpired  and provided a summary of the LAPD statements.

Bonin Triggers False Media Reports of Anti-Homeless Terror in Venice
Publicly Available Information from LAPD Contradicts Bonin’s Facebook Post

We originally intended to provide a look back at 2019 and an outline of our plans for 2020 in this email, but in light of the false reports that are circulating (and the damage that is being done to Venice as a result), we wanted to provide Venice residents with a summary of the information we have collected to date regarding the “suspicious devices” found last week at and around the Bridge Home Venice site.

As set forth below, publicly available information from the LAPD appears to indicate that there were never any explosive devices at (or near) the Bridge Home Venice site and that the LAPD does not believe there was a connection between the construction of Bridge Home Venice and the (non-explosive) devices found in Venice over the New Year’s holiday. Indeed, several of the (non-explosive) devices at issue (which unconfirmed sources have described as NO2 and CO2 cartridges modified to spin like tops when dropped) were found at locations other than Bridge Home Venice.

In short, Bonin’s narrative about terror activities targeting homeless in Venice appears to be without merit.

Here is what we have at this point:

Bonin’s January 3 Facebook Post
Bonin activated a Facebook post at 9:10 a.m. on January 3 (https://www.facebook.com/MikeBoninCD11/photos/last-night-the-los-angeles-police-department-responded-to-a-report-of-suspicious/2943919072293282/ ) stating that the LAPD had “responded to a report of suspicious devices that looked like bombs at the site of the future bridge housing in Venice.” Bonin further states that “there were three separate devices” that were “apparently designed to look like explosive devices,” but that “LAPD’s bomb squad determined that none of them contained the necessary fuel to cause an explosion.” Further, Bonin states that placement of these “suspicious devices” was “an appalling incident perpetrated by a disturbed and cowardly person or persons” that may have been “meant to slow or halt progress on providing bridge housing.” Then, he writes: “We will not be intimidated, and we will not back down from providing solutions to our homelessness crisis.”

Bonin’s Venice Deputy for Venice Bridge Home, Allison Wilhite, doubled down on that messaging in a news release furnished to Venice Update (https://veniceupdate.com/2020/01/03/venice-deputy-responds-to-venice-bridge-home-bomb-threat/ ) restating Bonin’s Facebook post in full – including Bonin’s theory that the “suspicious devices” were placed by “a disturbed and cowardly person or persons” seeking to “slow or halt progress on providing bridge housing” and intimate homeless advocates.

Police Chief Michel Moore, for his part, chimed in with a comment on Bonin’s Facebook page stating in its entirety: “Councilman Mike Bonin we will continue our investigation and appreciate your appeal for the community’s assistance with tips/leads to identify the individual(s) responsible.” Further, Chief Moore stated in a January 4 email to Christian Wrede that “[t]he councilman’s remarks” – as set forth on Facebook – “[we]re accurate and fair.” Chief Moore ignored Wrede’s requests to provide additional information as to the characteristics of the devices or to help address inaccuracies in news reports.

News Coverage Spawned by Bonin’s Statements

1) A comment accusing two sitting members of the Venice Neighborhood Council of planting the devices in question was posted to the comment section of Bonin’s Facebook post, and numerous print and television outlets ran stories adopting Bonin’s published theory that said devices were directed at the Bridge Home Venice project and Venice’s homeless community.

2) The local NBC affiliate, for example, ran a piece quoting Bonin extensively and stating that “homeless in Venice” were “possibly targeted with pipe bombs.” ((https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/lapd-investigating-fake-explosive-left-at-future-site-of-venice-bridge-home/2285119/)

3) Fox LA ran a story, under the headline “LAPD Working to Determine if Homeless Community Was Target in Suspicious Device Investigation,” stating that authorities believed that “the suspect or suspects responsible for leaving the suspicious devices there may have possibly been targeting the new housing project or the homeless community.” ( https://www.foxla.com/news/lapd-working-to-determine-if-homeless-community-was-target-in-suspicious-device-investigation ).

4) And Los Angeles Magazine ran a piece, under the headline “Fake Explosive Devices Were Found at the Site of a Controversial Homeless Shelter,” stating that “[t]he threat came amid ongoing controversy over” Bridge Home Venice and noting in the very next paragraph that “the Venice Stakeholder’s Association sued the city to halt the project.” ( https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/fake-bomb-homeless-shelter-venice/ ).

Publicly Available Information as We Currently Understand It

Disturbed by this incendiary reporting, a number of concerned Venice residents have continued to push Bonin and the LAPD to provide accurate information to the public and to correct the false and injurious storylines in the press.

True to form, Bonin has completely ignored such requests.

The LAPD, for its part, has declined to provide pictures – or even descriptions – of the devices, but has made several public statements contradicting Bonin’s Facebook post (and the false news reports it triggered), including the following:


“I can assure you that none of the devices recovered from the site would meet the definition of an explosive.” Captain Steven Embrich, LAPD, January 4 Email to Christian Wrede, et al

 “We don’t believe it’s related to the homeless shelter construction.” Officer Bob Long LAPD Major Crimes Division (as quoted by Zoie Matthew in “Fake Explosive Devices Were Found at the Site of a Controversial Homeless Shelter,” Los Angeles Magazine, January 3, 2020).

A law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Los Angeles Times that “none of [the devices in question] had the capability to detonate” and that “the shelter site was not the target of the incident.” Colleen Shelby, “Devices Resembling Explosive Found Outside of Future Homeless Shelter in Venice,” Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2020.

The devices in question were not limited to the Bridge Home Venice site. They “were found on and near” the Bridge Home Venice site and “an adjoining street.” January 3, 2020 LAPD News Release.

“The motive is unclear ….” January 3, 2020 LAPD News Release.

In short, the LAPD has expressly stated that: (i) the devices Bonin wrote about in his Facebook post were not explosive; (ii) the Bridge Home Venice site was not the only location at which the devices were found; and (iii) there is no apparent connection between the devices and Bridge Home Venice.

Further, while we cannot vouch for the accuracy of such information, we have been informed by sources we find trustworthy that detectives investigating the devices have shown residents in the vicinity of the Bridge Home Venice site photographs indicating that the devices in question were NO2 (i.e., laughing gas) and CO2 cartridges modified to flit around on the ground across distances of up to 20 feet when dropped from a height sufficient to trigger the release of gas. According to these sources, the first of the devices was found by a Venice resident on New Years Eve, but no report was made until other devices of similar design were found in various locations. Apparently, five devices in total were found.

We will provide additional information as we receive it. In the meantime, we will leave you to formulate your own hypotheses as to what really transpired with respect to Bonin’s mystery “devices” over the New Year’s holiday in Venice.

Can AB1197 Effect Venice Projects Retroactively? Elizabeth Wright Challenges Venice Update Statement

Elizabeth Wright challenged a statement the Venice Update made stating that making Assembly Bill 1197 apply (retroactively) to Venice Projects already in the works was unconstitutional.

Wright bases her decision on a tax decision and then provides other research, which to this writer only proves that Assembly Bill 1197 being passed to effect projects in the works, specifically in Los Angeles,  is unconstitutional based on the facts presented.

Venice has two court cases which AB 1197 has been used to nullify claims by residents in court.  The two projects are the Venice Median brought by Fight Back Venice and the Bridge Housing project at the MTA lot brought by Venice Stakeholders Association.

Note:  Neither Elizabeth Wright nor this writer are lawyers.

The case of her friend

Years ago a co-worker, along with a small group of others, funded a solar power project partly because of the tax benefits offered for such projects.  Before they could claim the tax benefits, legislation was passed that retroactively eliminated, or significantly reduced them.  Don’t know what kind of project (small as solar power for a church or large as creating a solar farm) or at what level the tax benefits existed (fed, state, county, or city).  It was upheld.  I do not know details.


  1. Art 1, § 9
    1. This prohibits Congress from passing any laws which apply ex post facto.
  2. Art. 1 § 10.
    1. This prohibits the states from passing any laws which apply ex post facto.

What Constitutes Punishment

In the often-cited case of Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167 (1925), the Supreme Court defined the scope of the constitutional ex post facto restrictions:

  • “It is settled, by decisions of this Court so well known that their citation may be dispensed with, that any statute which punishes as a crime an act previously committed, which was innocent when done, which makes more burdensome the punishment for a crime, after its commission, or which deprives one charged with crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed, is prohibited as ex post facto.”

Courts have applied this standard to different parts of the criminal process. California Dep’t of Corrections v. Morales, 514 US 499 (1995) takes the Beazell standard and applies it to the parole process. In Morales, California amended a law to state that the California Board of Prison Terms may defer parole hearings for up to three years for a prisoner convicted of more than one homicide offense. Respondent-defendant Morales was imprisoned before the law was amended, and he was subsequently affected by it when he applied for a parole hearing. In his lawsuit, he claimed that the amendment violated the ex post facto prohibition. The Supreme Court, in applying Beazell, held that an amendment which impacts someone currently imprisoned to a law does not violate ex post facto if the amendment does not increase the punishment attached to the respondent’s crime. The Court held that here, the amendment did not impact Morales’s sentence nor did it impact any substantive attempt to be granted parole. The Court found that a simple alteration of a prisoner’s process of attaining parole does not violate ex post facto prohibitions.

Retroactive Judicial Decisions

At a minimum, ex post facto prohibits legislatures from passing laws which retroactively criminalize behavior. However, this prohibition does not attach as strictly to judicial decisions. Appellate courts sometimes announce a new rule of law, but will not apply it to the case in front of it, in order to attempt to comply with ex post facto prohibitions.

Year and a Day Rule

The Year and a Day Rule is a common law doctrine which states that a person cannot be convicted of homicide for a death that occurs more than a year and a day after his or her act(s) that allegedly caused the death. Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451 (2000) dealt with the doctrine. Defendantpetitioner Rogers had stabbed Bowdery, who died 15 months later.  The trial court found Rogers guilty of murder. When Rogers appealed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals under the Year and a Day Rule, the appellate court upheld the conviction and abolished the Year and a Day Rule for Tennessee. Rogers ultimately appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that the appellate court’s action violated the ex post facto prohibition. The Supreme Court in Rogers found that ex post facto was not present here, as the appellate “court’s decision was a routine exercise of common law decisionmaking that brought the law into conformity with reason and common sense.” The Rogers court also referenced a previous Supreme Court decision, Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U.S. 347 (1964), which held that “due process prohibits retroactive application of any judicial construction of a criminal statute that is unexpected and indefensible by reference to the law which has been expressed prior to the conduct in issue.” Rogers, considering the holding in Bouie, held that the ex post facto prohibition applies only to legislative decisions, and that even if it were to apply to judicial decisions, the retroactive judicial repeal of the Year and a Day Rule is neither unexpected nor indefensible.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/IF11293.pdf  (Congressional Research Service)

Retroactive Civil Legislation 

Congress has much greater leeway to enact retroactive legislation in the civil sphere than in the criminal sphere. However, certain constitutional limits apply, and courts interpreting ambiguous statutes apply a general presumption against retroactivity.


Fight Back Venice Has This to Say About Town Hall

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The email link is: https://www.fightbackvenice.org/be-heard-venice-inclusion-demand-oct-17/

Fight Back Venice and OTA File Law Suits Against City — No Environmental Review

Fight Back Venice and the Oxford Triangle Association (OTA) each filed a similar law suit against the City stating that the City failed to consider the environmental impact of the permanent supportive housing and the motel conversion ordinances when they passed them.  Jamie Hall is the attorney for both suits.

See LA Times.



“Fair Share” for CD11 Supportive Housing is Not Dumping It All in Venice — Fight Back Venice — How About Geographic Equity?



To join the FBV Team send email to volunteer@fightbackvenice.org.  The link above does not work.

Fight Back Venice Lists Events That Affect Venetians


If you want to donate to Fight Back Venice; if you want to join the FBV team, email “volunteer@fightbackvenice.org.


Fight Back Venice Addresses the Week of Activities


Members of FBV Hand Out Literature about Venice Median

Darryl DuFay and Chris Wrede of Fight Back Venice (FBV) pass out literature at the Venice Farmer’s Market regarding the proposed 140-unit Venice Median project that will be both affordable and permanent supportive housing.