Plaque stolen at historic Bruce’s Beach Park – NBC Los Angeles

on Jan30
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A plaque at Bruce’s Beach Park in Manhattan Beach, site of a beachfront property and resort owned by a Black couple who were stripped of the land in the 1920s, has been stolen, police said Tuesday.

The bronze plaque installed in February displays the history of the property, which was the subject of a complex process that eventually returned the land to descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce in 2022.

No arrests were reported Tuesday morning.

The entrepreneurial Bruces purchased the land in 1912 for $1,225, then added other parcels and built the first West Coast resort for Black people at a time when many beaches were segregated. The property featured a bath house, dance hall and café, but soon became a target of vandals, racial harassment from neighbors attacks on vehicles of Black visitors and the Ku Klux Klan, which tried to burn it down.

The Bruces continued operating the resort until the late 1920s when the Manhattan Beach City Council took the land through eminent domain under the pretense of building a city park. The city did nothing with the property, and it was transferred to the state of California in 1948. In 1995, the state transferred it to the county, with restrictions on further transfers.

A split image shows the Bruce's Beach Park bronze plaque (left) before it was stolen in January 2024 (right).


A split image shows the Bruce’s Beach Park bronze plaque (left) before it was stolen in January 2024 (right). Credits: Getty/NBCLA

The complex process of returning the property to heirs of the Bruces began about three years ago, and a major hurdle was cleared when the state Legislature passed a bill removing the restriction on transfer of the property. Los Angeles County supervisors approved an agreement for the property to be leased back to the county for 24 months, with an annual rent of $413,000 plus all operation and maintenance costs, and the county’s right to purchase the land for up to $20 million.

The sale of Bruce’s Beach from the Bruce family to LA County became official in January 2023.

The site is on Highland Avenue near 26th Street, where the county’s lifeguard training headquarters is now located.

Anyone with information about the stolen plaque was asked to call 310-802-5123 or contact Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Los Angeles County Supervisor, who was part of the effort to return to property to the Bruce family, issued a statement Tuesday condemning the theft of the plaque.

“I am sorry to hear that the Bruce’s Beach Park plaque was stolen and I know it opens up old wounds, especially for African Americans,” Hahn said. “I hope that the plaque’s theft is unrelated to the painful history of Bruce’s Beach and my decision to return the property to the Bruce family, and more related to the string of recent bronze thefts we have seen.”

Thieves looking to capitalize in rising metal prices have been behind thefts of bronze and other metals in Southern California. Earlier this month, more than 100 name plaques were stolen from gravesites at Lincoln Memorial Park cemetery in Carson. A week earlier, metal markers were stolen from graves at Woodlawn Celestial Gardens in Compton.

Over the weekend, a copper statue was stolen from outside Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood.

A pair of Los Angeles City Council members last week announced a series of measures hoping to crack down on thefts of copper wire that have occurred in various locations and knocked out street lights and other infrastructure — including lighting on the Sixth Street Bridge downtown.

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