Detailed racist history of area
Manhattan Beach police are searching for the person or people who stole a bronze plaque detailing the racially charged history of Bruce's Beach.
The theft, which was reported to police on Monday, is the latest in a string of recent crimes in which thieves have made off with bronze or other metal items in hopes of selling them.
Manhattan Beach city and police officials issued a statement saying the Bruce's Beach plaque, which was installed early last year, “held significant historical and cultural value.''
“Upon discovery of the stolen plaque, the Manhattan Beach Police Department immediately opened an investigation to identify, locate, and apprehend those responsible for this unfortunate incident,'' according to the city.
The plaque detailed the long and troubled history of Bruce's Beach, a pristine piece of land that was owned in the early 1900s by a Black family who developed a small resort catering to Black residents from across the county.
Charles and Willa Bruce purchased the land in 1912 and operated the resort until the city of Manhattan Beach condemned the property under a false pretense of developing a park. Instead, the property sat vacant for years after the Bruces and other Black families were evicted from the area.
It was not until 1960 that a park was built on a portion of the seized land, with city officials fearing the evicted families could take new legal action if the property wasn't used for the purpose for which it was seized.
The exact parcel of land the Bruces owned was transferred to the state, and then to the county in 1995. In 2022, at the urging of county Supervisor Janice Hahn, the county agreed to return the land to the descendants of the Bruce family in an effort to correct what she called an “injustice inflicted upon not just Willa and Charles Bruce but generations of their descendants who almost certainly would have been millionaires.''
In early 2023, the Bruce family reached an agreement to sell the parcel of land back to the county for $20 million.
The city of Manhattan Beach installed the bronze plaque at the site in early 2023, providing a detailed history of the land.
Police asked anyone with information about the theft to contact Det. Sgt. Taylor Klosowki at (310) 802-5123 or contact CrimeStoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).