Groundbreaking Scrubbed for Museum Project Bearing Ridley-Thomas’s Name

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
October 27, 2021 Updated: October 27, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The Natural History Museums (NHM) of Los Angeles County Oct. 27 postponed a planned groundbreaking event for a community hub known as NHM Commons, the entryway of which was expected to be named after now-indicted former county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The ceremonial event had been set for Wednesday afternoon. The county Board of Supervisors last year voted to name the project’s entrance plaza after Ridley-Thomas, an honor bestowed during his final meeting on the board.

Ridley-Thomas now serves on the Los Angeles City Council, although he has been suspended due to his recent indictment on federal bribery and conspiracy charges.

Sally Marquez, NHM communications manager, said in an email that the groundbreaking event in Exposition Park “was envisioned as a celebratory moment” to celebrate not only the start of construction but “the many generous public and private financial contributors to the project.”

“Given the recent news regarding the federal indictment of LA City Council member and former LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, we do not believe it is the appropriate time to hold this event this month,” Marquez said. “Construction of NHM Commons will move ahead as planned, and we look forward to marking this important milestone and thanking our supporters at a future date.”

The Commons is intended to be a community hub with an immersive theater for science, education, and community projects including films, lectures and satellite-transmitted scientific expeditions from around the world, and a variety of community gatherings.

A glass facade will showcase museum specimens and other imagery.

The entrance plaza is designed to serve as a “front porch” of the community commons where residents will meet up to enjoy programs and events, officials said last year.

It was unclear if Ridley-Thomas’s name will still adorn the entryway when it is completed.

Ridley-Thomas has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the federal charges, which accuse him of conspiring with a former dean of the University Southern California School of Social Work to ensure benefits for his son in exchange for supporting lucrative county contracts for the school.