The star of L.A. Weekly's current cover story — a talented and gentle young man named Bryant Mangum, aka UPN member “Sight,” fresh out of four years in state prison for scratching up the L.A. bus system as a teenager — has been suspended from his job as a result of the story.
As we revealed in “Los Angeles' War on Street Artists,' the only job Sight was able to get with 10 counts of felony vandalism on his record was, ironically, buffing out graffiti for a company contracted by L.A. City Hall. (He applied to hundreds of other workplaces, but due to his scary-looking record, potential employers all “thought I was a terrorist,” says Sight.)
And now even that employer has turned him away:
Sight says that as soon as the story came out, he was “suspended without pay.” His bosses informed him yesterday that a prospective client is now re-considering opening a contract with the company, allegedly due to comments he made to the Weekly. According to Sight, a rep from Human Resources added that it could take up to two months for the “investigation” into his comments to conclude, and that he'll probably be demoted once it's over.
Most importantly, Sight wants us to let our readers know: He desperately needs to land a new job as soon as possible. And he's willing to do just about anything.
“Please help me because I need to support my family,” he says. “I have two kids who depend on me.” He can be reached directly at (323) 342-3295.
Since being suspended by the buffing company yesterday, Sight has been frantically turning in job applications. He was turned away from a telemarketing company this morning for familiar reasons: The employer took one look at his felonies and showed him the door.
Here's what Sight told L.A. Weekly about his demeaning position as a graffiti buffer:
The fallen street legend is almost too humiliated to admit that the only work he's been able to find — through a program that helps ex-felons — is buffing out graffiti for a company contracted by L.A. City Hall.
“It hurts. It sucks,” he says. “I love graffiti — I don't want to take down no graffiti.”
The job, Sight says, is ruining his identity and credibility; he would rather do anything else in the world. Before the buffing gig, Sight worked part-time for the same company as an alley cleaner, where he picked up “trash, shit buckets, dead cats and rats.”
He would do it again in an instant if it offered the same long hours he needs to support his family.
We did not reveal either Sight's name or his company's name in the story, so it would have taken an immense amount of digging — in the single day since the issue came out — to discover where he worked. So his company's alleged reason for firing him (that they may have lost a contract over his comments) are hard to believe.
And besides, since when was not liking one's job grounds for removal? That's like saying a Burger King employee must be a fan of over-processed beef. We've contacted various L.A. labor lawyers to inquire into the legality of Sight's job suspension.
The South Central graffiti artist has asked that we not include the name of his employer.
But we did contact the company for comment, because no self-respecting community business should be able to get away with this. Interestingly, the company lists L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and certain L.A. City Hall leaders — who we called out in the L.A. Weekly piece for their roles in turning graffiti artists into the city's public enemy No. 1 — as “political supporters” on its website.
Then there's the fact that the City of Los Angeles itself is one of the company's paying customers.
In the meantime, if anyone has any work for Sight, please give him a call. After spending many hours with him for our cover story, we can attest: He's one of the sweetest, most intelligent, most level-headed dudes we've had the pleasure of encountering in this crazy city. Our extensive background check showed that he has no record of violence whatsoever. All he needs is another chance.