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1996: A Year in Photos

December 29, 1996

Some of the images can be read in an instant--a candidate stumping for the highest office in the land, an out-of-control wildfire racing across a dry and vulnerable hillside.

But some images from 1996 are more complex, harder to read. There is the mother who greeted her son at the airport after the crash of TWA Flight 800. His best friend was on that fatal flight and, reunited with her son in Los Angeles, her face is a mixture of mourning and relief.

Some images are as angry as a bloodied demonstrator being led away by riot police, others gentle as a little boy meeting a ballplayer. Such are the images of 1996.

Acres of Anguish

Four-year-old Abraham Roman pushes a toy truck on the land his parents bought from Antelope Valley developer Marshall Redman. The family was among 2,500 Spanish-speaking customers who bought undeveloped High Desert properties--much of them legally encumbered--from the 68-year-old millionaire developer who faces trial next year on seven felony charges in connection with the 16-year-long string of sales. Following The Times' disclosures on the sales, Los Angeles County recently took the first step in enacting sweeping reforms to give buyers of undeveloped land more protection.

* May 31

Deep Fix

Deep under Studio City, a miner signals co-workers through a haze of cement dust as they bore a tunnel for the planned Metro Rail subway linking downtown and the San Fernando Valley. A Times investigation in April found numerous violations of state safety regulations by construction supervisors, including lack of protective gear, unsafe levels of hazardous gases and overloaded equipment. State workplace safety officials launched their own probe, declared there were serious violations of regulations and fined the construction company $3,337.

* April 30

A Mother's Relief

Tony Silberfeld and his best friend, Yon Rojany, had planned to meet in Italy while Rojany tried out for some Italian basketball teams. Silberfeld flew on Alitalia, while his former Birmingham High School classmate boarded the ill-fated TWA Flight 800 out of New York. After he learned of the fatal explosion, Silberfeld flew back to Los Angeles, where he was met by his mother, Paula Ashton.

* July 20

Towering Inferno

The largest brush fire to hit Southern California since the disastrous Malibu fires of 1993 roared out of control through the Santa Monica Mountains in August, but better firefighting techniques and better brush clearance kept the damage to structures to a minimum.

* Aug. 28

Citizen Dole

Republican candidate Bob Dole campaigned heavily in the San Fernando Valley-area this year, turning up in Studio City and West Hills among other places. He spoke at a rally at Glendale City Hall with Supervisor Mike Antonovich, left, and Assemblywoman Paula Boland, right. But several GOP candidates in the Valley distanced themselves from Dole while waging their own campaigns.

* Aug. 18

Flashback

On the Cal State Northridge campus, 1960s-era demonstrations broke out after former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke was invited by student leaders to debate Joe Hicks, a civil rights activist. A daylong series of melees pitted rock-throwing demonstrators against 200 riot police, some of whom led away defiant protesters. The violent day, and the controversy leading up to the debate, thrust affirmative action into the spotlight months before voters passed Proposition 209 in November.

* Sept 26

Front and Center

When Rosa Parks visited the North Valley Multipurpose Senior Center, young and old could not contain their admiration for the mother of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. When she walked up to the lectern for a brief speech, the crowd of 300 people burst into applause before she even uttered a word. "Thank you," she said. "I feel very much at home."

* Jan 26

Fielding Fans

When the Jethawks took the field at their new stadium in Lancaster in April, it was the first time since 1957 that an affiliated minor-league team based in Los Angeles County played a home game. And that was the year the Dodgers came to California. Local High Desert youngsters, such as Richard Carbajal got a chance to meet right fielder Jesus Marquez and other professional ballplayers.

* Aug 4

Case Dismissed

After a Superior Court jury deadlocked on allegations that Salle Dumm, president of the nonprofit Burbank Educational Foundation, seduced a 17-year-old Burbank High School football player, a judge dismissed the charges in a case that had shaken the Burbank Unified School District. "It'll take me a long time before all stress goes away," Dumm said afterward. "It'll take me a long time before I get my life back."

* Sept. 14

Free No More

As a devotee of the "freeman" movement, M. Elizabeth Broderick of Palmdale said she was just exercising her rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. A federal court jury thought differently. Broderick, a Palmdale resident who told hundreds of followers they could wipe out their debts with checks that were drawn against the U.S. government, was convicted on 26 charges of fraud and money laundering.

* April 10

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