Letters to the Editor: Acknowledging injustice at Bruce's Beach doesn't make Manhattan Beach racist. It does the opposite

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MANHATTAN BEACH, CA -JULY 29, 2020: A commemorative plaque at Bruce's Beach, a park located in Manhattan Beach, explains the history of the area. Bruce's Beach used to be owned by one of the first prominent Black oceanfront homeowners (in the 1920's) but Manhattan Beach ran them out of town and erased/rewrote the history of what happened. A new generation of residents are now calling on the city to confront its racist past. Many have reclaimed the space in recent weeks to celebrate and honor the Black Lives Matter movement. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A commemorative plaque relates the history of Bruce's Beach, a Black family's oceanfront resort that was once seized by the city of Manhattan Beach. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Clearly, Willa and Charles Bruce were deprived of their valuable investment in Manhattan Beach because of their race.

I disagree with Mayor Hadley. Officially acknowledging this long-ago abuse of power with an apology would not mark the city as “racist.” Quite the contrary.

As for recompense, it’s true that estimating what the Bruces’ business might have been worth today is impossible. But, surely, the value of two oceanfront parcels can easily be determined. I’m sure it far exceeds the $350,000 the city has decided to spend on an art installation. Unless the Bruce family has asked for this kind of symbolic gesture, why not give the $350,000 to them?

Janice Blake, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Kudos to Supervisor Janice Hahn for seeking justice for the Bruce family regarding the racially biased taking of their beach property by the government 100 years ago. However, the Board of Supervisors should not ponder whether to pay them the fair market value or to pay to lease the property from them or any resolution other than to return Bruce's Beach to the Bruces.

They are the rightful owners and likely would prefer to ponder their own choices, and not those of the government, for what to do with the land.

Lynn Storing, Yorba Linda

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To the editor: The city of Manhattan Beach took the land of the Bruce family 100 years ago because city residents, supported by the KKK, didn't want Black people using "their" beach.

Now city leaders are reportedly concerned that an apology will acknowledge liability. Many city residents feel the city shouldn't be responsible for wrongs committed long ago, by others now dead.

How is what Manhattan Beach did to African Americans 100 years ago different from what Germany did to German Jews 90 years ago, when the Nazis, using racist laws, confiscated or forced sales of valuable paintings and businesses? Today's Germans are not Nazis. But Germany not only apologized, it did more. Most stolen property has been returned to the descendants of the original owners.

Perhaps Manhattan Beach residents should imagine how they'd feel if their family Rembrandt were hanging in a Berlin museum.

Richard W. Merel, Hermosa Beach

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To the editor: As a longtime resident of Manhattan Beach, I took great offense at your headlining article about the city. Let me state unequivocally that no apology or restitution should be forthcoming from anyone who lives here regarding Bruce's Beach. These so-called racist events happened over 100 years ago and have absolutely nothing to do with the city's present administration or population.

According to your own article, plenty of white folks were also displaced during that time. I don't hear any of their ancestors demanding compensation. It also appears that the Bruce family received more money for their trouble than anyone else. The truth is that this entire country has a "racist past," and what happened to the Bruce family happened to many families back in those days.

Charles Reilly, Manhattan Beach

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.