Arte y Desarrollo Chocan en el Este de Los Ángeles

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Los residentes del Este de Los Ángeles están debatiendo los pros y contras de dos nuevas escuelas que podrían mudarse a la calle East 1st Street en la zona no incorporada del Este de Los Ángeles. Una de las escuelas podría estar construida sobre la antigua tienda First Street Store.

Un mural ubicado en el exterior de la tienda cerrada actualmente esta al centro del debate.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Battle Brewing Over Historic East LA Murals at Former First Street Store Building Site

Localizado en 3640 E. 1st St., la tienda First Street Store, también conocida cariñosamente como “La Primera”, durante décadas fue la única tienda de departamentos en el Este de Los Ángeles.

Preocupados sobre la demolición del edificio y los murales que lo adornan, artistas han comenzado a recoger firmas con la esperanza de salvar la obra de arte.

A pesar de que un proyecto formal no se ha presentado al Departamento de Planificación del Condado, la Conservación de Murales de Los Ángeles (MCLA por sus siglas en inglés) ha emitido una advertencia que el mural de 1974 titulado “La historia de nuestra lucha” (The Story of Our Struggle), podría caer víctima al desarrollo del sitio.

La Conservación de Murales, una organización sin ánimo de lucro, está promoviendo una petición para salvar el mural.

Los defensores de los murales dicen que la petición no fue un ataque calculado para prevenir que llegue las escuelas, sino el posible resultado de una falta de comunicación.

La antigua tienda está situada en 3640 E. First Street, durante décadas fue la única tienda de departamentos en el Este de Los Ángeles. El edificio esta vacante desde 2007. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

El desarrollador, Pacific Charter School Development (PCSD), no ha negado su intención de demoler y desarrollar el sitio y una propiedad al lado, pero tampoco ha proporcionado muchos detalles sobre sus planes, de acuerdo con los artistas.

Hasta la fecha, los únicos planes que se han presentado formalmente son para una escuela secundaria en la propiedad pegada a un lado, y sin murales, ubicada en 3650 E. 1st Street, de acuerdo con el director de Planificación del Condado de Los Ángeles Richard Bruckner.

“La demolición [del edificio sin murales] podría comenzar durante el verano,” dijo Bruckner EGP.

Los artistas han comenzado una campaña para salvar los murales, y están hablando con las empresas locales y los vecinos sobre el tema, de acuerdo con Isabel Rojas-Williams, directora ejecutiva de MCLA.

“El mural tuvo como objetivo educar a la comunidad, es uno de los murales más importantes de ese segmento del Este de Los Ángeles”, dijo Rojas-Williams, explicando que los murales muestran los problemas que han afectado a la comunidad Chicana, pero que nunca se enseñaban en las clases de historia.

Los murales están compuestos de 18 paneles de azulejos pintados. El mural “se distingue en la actualidad como el hito histórica de herencia cultural más grande del Este de Los Ángeles, que simboliza el valor de nuestra comunidad México-americana y chicana”, afirma a la petición.

Eli Kennedy, el presidente del organismo inmobiliario Pacific Charter School Development (PCSD), dijo a EGP que están muy conscientes de la importancia de los murales y tienen un plan para preservar y reincorporarlos al diseño del nuevo edificio.

“Valoramos y totalmente respetamos esos murales, tenemos la intención de hacerlos una parte del campus”, él dijo.

Añadió, sin embargo, que mantener la fachada con los murales, podría ser un obstáculo para el objetivo de crear una instalación segura y de alta calidad. Las propiedades actualmente se encuentran en tramites de venta, y la financiación de la construcción podría ser limitado, él dijo.

Los clientes de PCSD para estos proyectos es Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

La semana pasada, PCSD dio a conocer un dibujo de la nueva escuela secundaria que mantiene los murales pero cambia su orden de presentación.

Pacific Charter School Development quiere demoler el edificio actual para construir una preparatoria. Esta imagen muestra el nuevo edificio con los murales conservados incorporados a la arquitectura del nuevo edificio. Imagen por Berliner and Associates Architecture, cortesía de Pacific Charter School Development.

El diseño no es aceptable para Johnny D. González, quien encabezó el proyecto del mural original como una manera de atraer a los turistas culturales al Este de Los Ángeles.

“Quiero hacer hincapié en… que todo tiene que seguir siendo tal como es para respetar la integridad del edificio y el mural”, él dijo a EGP.

González dice que él y otros se reunieron con representantes de PCSC y no demoler el edificio nunca fue presentada como una opción para el desarrollador.

“Estábamos tratando de obtener respuestas, no sabíamos si sería derribado de inmediato”, González dijo. “Aún tememos que mañana puedan estar allí derribándolo”.

Cerca de 2.000 firmas ya se han recogido para tratar de evitar ese destino, él agregó.

David Botello, uno de los artistas que trabajó en el mural, ha escrito un recuerdo de seis páginas de la tienda. “El mural estaba destinado a durar. Si se desmantela, será muy costoso volver a instalarlo. Eso talvez nunca se haga. Déjenlo así y adapten el edificio [para su nuevo uso]. Muéstrenles a los alumnos el valor real del arte”, escribió.

Botello dijo el edificio Van de Kamp en Glassell Park se ha conservado con fondos públicos y lo mismo se podría hacer para la antigua tienda, pero lo subestiman.

Además, él dijo que una escuela charter probablemente traería menos negocios a la zona, una noción con la cual algunos comerciantes no están de acuerdo.

“Mi preocupación es que no hay negocio”, dijo Francisco Carrasco, dueño de la casa de empeño Don Francisco. Su tienda esta enfrente del edificio. Él dijo que no firmó la petición cuando se le preguntó.

Él y otros negocios a lo largo del corredor comercial, que a una vez fue prospera, están sufriendo debido a varios factores incluyendo el cierre de la tienda First Street Store en 2007, la eliminación de Metro de varias líneas de autobuses locales, y la mala economía. César Chávez y el Bulevar Whittier ahora son los corredores comerciales principales, pero no siempre fue así, dijo Carrasco.

Carrasco cree que los adolescentes y sus padres podrían ayudar a estimular el corredor.

“La gente que vive aquí están frenando el desarrollo y la comercialización,” dijo y añadió que el corredor está todavía en una espiral descendente.

El problema es que los vecinos residenciales quieren que todo siga “igual, o peor,” dijo Carrasco.

Daniel Oh, el dueño de Unique Dollar, dijo que la escuela es una buena idea, pero piensa que el sitio podría ser demasiado pequeño así como es.

Marisol Cárdenas trabaja en uno de los negocios situados dentro de Unique Dollar. Ella dice que la escuela podría traer más negocio, pero añade los murales deben ser preservados.

“Son una parte del Este de Los Ángeles y deben de dejarlo como está”, dijo Cárdenas.

Jesse Torres, presidente del banco Pan American ubicado al cruzar la calle en la calle 1st Street, dice que la construcción pone en competencia la historia y el desarrollo económico, y lamentablemente de cualquier manera uno de los dos perderá.

Él apoya la preservación de los murales, pero no la preservación del edificio completo, dijo a EGP.

La presidenta de Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools Judy Burton dice que la secundaria sería una nueva escuela pero la preparatoria ya esta en existencia en otra parte del Este de Los Ángeles.

La Escuela de Artes de Medios y Diseño Entretenimiento (Media Arts and Entertainment Design High School ) fue inaugurada en 2009 en Whittier Boulevard, cerca al Teatro Golden Gate, y se planea mudar a la calle 1st Street porque ha superado el espacio en su ubicación actual, ella dijo.

Burton dijo que los murales son “bellos” y que siempre se había planeado mantenerlos.

“El problema es que los fondos públicos estatales exigen que se adhieran a las directrices del estado”, ella dijo, explicando que la preservación de la fachada original puede plantear una cuestión de seguridad.

La secundaria será financiada con fondos privados, mientras que la escuela secundaria se construirá utilizando fondos de los contribuyentes de impuestos, ella dijo. En última instancia la secundaria pasará a ser propiedad del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles, si la Alianza cierra la escuela, ella dijo.

Construido en 1924, el edificio de la antigua tienda First Street Store no ha sido reconocido como un hito histórico.

De acuerdo con Adrian Scott Fine, director de promoción para el Los Angeles Conservancy, su organización no ha adoptado una posición formal sobre el tema, pero ven la importancia tanto del edificio como los murales para la comunidad.

Los Angeles Conservancy, que ha abogado activamente por la preservación del Teatro Golden Gate y otros sitios en el Este de Los Ángeles, está prestando atención a las discusiones de la antigua tienda First Street Store. Fine nota que “salvar elementos [de un edificio] no es preservación significativa”.

Adolescente se Postula Como Candidato en Commerce para 2015

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Residente de Commerce Johncito Peraza Romero, de 15 años de edad, esta contando los días hasta que cumpla los 18 años.

A esa edad podrá postularse como candidato al concejo municipal.

Al igual que muchos adolescentes de su edad, a Peraza le gusta jugar deportes, hablar con sus amigos en Facebook, y ver películas.

Pero a diferencia a muchos adolescentes de su edad, él asiste regularmente a las reuniones del consejo y de las comisiones, él habla en las reuniones de la junta escolar del distrito, y sintoniza el noticiero C-SPAN todas las mañanas antes de irse a la escuela.

Johncito Peraza

En enero, Peraza anunció su campaña para postularse al Concejo Municipal, pero no es capaz de participar en una elección del concejo municipal hasta marzo de 2015. A pesar de que no se le permite recaudar fondos o recibir donaciones para su campaña, él dice que aún puede hacer correr la voz acerca de sus intenciones de postularse como candidato.

Los recortes propuestos a los programas para jóvenes y adolescentes son lo que lo llevó a postularse para el concejo municipal, él explicó.

Él dice que la ciudad esta enfrentando una “crisis” que no había visto en cuarenta años, y como resultado los recortes presupuestarios amenazan muchos queridos programas de la ciudad. Para él, los programas vitales incluyen el programa de empleo juvenil, las bibliotecas, y los programas de deportes como el fútbol.

En particular, Peraza esta interesado en mantener abierta la rama Atlantic de la Biblioteca Pública de Commerce. “Soy un producto de la biblioteca Atlantic. He estado en todos los programas de lectura durante los veranos. Me han prestado libros. Puedo usar las computadoras. Puedo alquilar DVDs, computadores portátiles y todo eso”, dijo Peraza a un periodista de EGP durante una entrevista que se realizó en la biblioteca Atlantic que estaba llena de actividad y clientes.

Soltar la risa ha sido la primera reacción de muchas personas al escuchar los planes de candidatura de Peraza. Cuando le dicen que es demasiado joven, él responde diciéndoles sus ideas. Él dice que está tratando de obtener más apoyo fuera de sus propios barrios en Bandini y Rosewood Park, donde creció.

El interés de Peraza en el gobierno comenzó cuando estaba en el primer grado, durante la elección llena de suspenso entre George W. Bush y Al Gore en 2000.

“Todo mundo piensa que un voto no va a hacer una diferencia, pero en esa elección, vi la diferencia. Todas las campañas negativas, todos los esfuerzos de hacer una buena campaña, cómo Al Gore fue a la corte contra Bush, cómo menos de cien votos hicieron la diferencia. Despertó un interés en mí”, él dijo.

Aunque Peraza siempre ha estado interesado en el gobierno, lo que realmente lo atrajo a la política local fue la muerte de un amigo que había luchado contra el cáncer de pulmón. Este amigo, que tenía 15 años de edad cuando falleció, fue el primero que trató de “reclutarlo” para el concejo municipal.

“Yo no inicié esta campaña. Uno de mis amigos la inició… Yo le dije ‘¡Estás loco, soy un adolescente… nadie votará por mí. Al principio comenzó como una broma… pero usted sabe, empecé a notar más interés [en mi página de Facebook] y me han dicho que debería entrarle,” dijo.

Vecinos, amigos de su edad, todos lo animaron a postularse. Su hermana continuó el esfuerzo de reclutarlo en enero. Él decidió que lo intentara y pronto inició la página web de su campaña.

Peraza dice que su padre es su inspiración. “Él es un hombre muy trabajador y la economía esta difícil. La economía ha perjudicado a mi familia bastante. Lo veo estirar su sueldo para que dure quince días, asegura que haya comida esté sobre la mesa, y que la hipoteca se pague… no se da por vencido,” explicó.

Ambos padres de Peraza son inmigrantes salvadoreños que han vivido en Commerce durante 15 a 16 años. Su padre vivió previamente en Laguna Hills.

Peraza planea asistir una universidad en el área de Los Ángeles y planea realizar sus estudios al mismo tiempo que maneja su campaña para el concejo municipal. Sin embargo, él insiste en que no ve el Ayuntamiento como un “trampolín” a un puesto superior. Algunas personas le han dicho que algún día podría postularse como presidente del país, pero él no quiere ese trabajo.

Además de su padre, él dice que lo inspira un político joven, John F. Kennedy.

“Él era muy joven… mucha gente lo veía como un instrumento y una broma porque era joven. Nadie lo tomaba en serio,” dijo Peraza. “Mucha gente así me ve. Soy joven. Mucha gente piensa que seré una broma. Yo les digo mira a John F. Kennedy. Él fue joven… él defendió lo que creía sin importar que no fuera popular.”

Policías de Bell Gardens Acusados de Usar ‘Fuerza Letal’ Contra Hombre Desarmado

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

El Departamento del Alguacil del Condado de Los Ángeles está investigando un tiroteo que involucró agentes del Departamento de Policías de la Ciudad de Bell Gardens, quienes el 20 de abril hirieron a un hombre que quedó hospitalizado.

El lunes, un amigo de la familia del hombre habló en la reunión del Concejo Municipal de Bell Gardens y acusó los agentes de policía de utilizar fuerza letal injustificada cuando le dispararon a Johnny Estrada, de 20 años de edad, quien no cargaba una arma.

“Bell Gardens no es una zona de combate”, dijo Alfredo Álvarez, quien dijo que es un ex soldado. Álvarez no fue testigo de los disparos.

Según la policía, los agentes estaban respondiendo a una llamada acerca de una disputa familiar alrededor de las 6:40 p.m. el viernes pasado sobre la cuadra 6800 de la Avenida Marlon. Allí vieron a Estrada—identificado como el agresor sospechoso—sentado detrás del volante de un automóvil con el motor en marcha. Estrada negó seguir las ordenes y salir del vehículo, poco después se realizó el tiroteo, según las autoridades.

Los policías le dispararon a Estrada después de que hizo acelerar el motor, causando que las llantas derrapen. Ellos pensaron que Estrada podía estar usando su coche como un arma contra miembros de su familia que estaban parados enfrente del coche, dijo Pedro Gómez, agente de la sede del Alguacil.

Álvarez dijo que el tiroteo ha arrojado una luz negativa sobre el departamento de policía y el ayuntamiento de la ciudad. Él antes admiraba el departamento de policía de la ciudad, pero ahora este ha perdido la confianza de la comunidad, él dijo.

Álvarez y otros 10 amigos y vecinos en la reunión dijeron a EGP que Estrada estaba en plena discusión con su madre cuando alguien llamó a la policía. Cuando llegaron, los policías sacaron sus armas y apuntaron a Estrada a pesar de que no hizo ninguna amenaza de violencia. Los policías también apuntaron sus armas contra otras personas en la escena, incluyendo la madre de Estrada, ellos afirmaron.

La madre de Estrada, María Álvarez, dijo a KCAL 9 que los agentes estaban tratando de romper las ventanas del coche antes de que dispararon contra su hijo. Ella también dijo que no era la primera confrontación de su hijo con la policía, agregando que él estaba programado para aparecer en la corte esta semana en relación con un incidente en el cual alega que la policía lo golpeó.

Estrada se encuentra hospitalizado en condición estable, de acuerdo con la portavoz del Alguacil Nicole Nishida. Ella no pudo confirmar el número de balazos que Estrada recibió ni donde en su cuerpo resultó herido, pero Alfredo Álvarez dijo a EGP que le dispararon tres veces y una de las balas le rozó la cara.

Araceli Martínez, quien dice que su hijo es el mejor amigo de Estrada, dijo que la policía le dijo a Estrada que salga del coche o le dispararían en la cabeza.

Ella y otros se quejaron que los policías no se comportaban de manera profesional.

Estrada tiene dos trabajos y estaba asistiendo clases para obtener su diploma, dijo Martínez. “Él está tratando de hacer bien con su vida”, dijo Martínez a EGP.

Estrada no es un pandillero, es sencillo y vive con su madre, tres hermanas y un hermano, dijeron sus amigos a EGP después de la reunión del consejo.

Martínez dice que Estrada ha ganado la conciencia.

Como es habitual los tiroteos que involucran a policías, los detectives del Alguacil están investigando el caso. La investigación podría tomar un par de meses, según Nishida.

En la reunión del lunes, los miembros del consejo dijeron que le desean una recuperación rápida a Estrada, pero dijeron que esperarían la conclusión de la investigación antes de juzgar a los policías.

Sin embargo, el alcalde en funciones de Bell Gardens Sergio Infanzón dirigiéndose a Alfredo Álvarez durante y después de la reunión dijo que si la comunidad tiene desconfianza con el departamento de policía, las quejas se deben presentar a cualquier momento no solo después de que se produjo un incidente como este.

En respuesta a un correo electrónico, el capitán de Policía de Bell Gardens Jeff Travis dijo a EGP que la investigación está en curso y por lo tanto no podía proporcionar la información solicitada.

El Administrador de la Ciudad Philip Wagner dijo que asume que los policías de Bell Gardens no están exentos de críticas, especialmente durante los incidentes de este tipo, pero dijo que nunca había escuchado que los residentes desconfiaran de los policías.

“No creo que la desconfianza es el consenso de la comunidad”, dijo Wanger, señalando que el Programa de Vigilancia Vecinal (Neighborhood Watch) cuenta con cientos de participantes que probablemente apoyan al departamento de policía.

Los policías de Bell Gardens están “altamente capacitados conforme a los requisitos y las normas exigidos por el Estado y el departamento no es diferente que cualquier otra agencia de aplicación de la ley en California”, dijo Wagner acerca de la profesionalidad.

Los agentes implicados en el tiroteo no han sido identificados.

Información de City News Service fue utilizada en este informe.

April 26, 2012 Issue

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

20 Years Ago: For Many Latinos, the L.A. Riots Were Not About Outrage

April 26, 2012 by · 5 Comments 

“…After the not guilty verdicts of four L.A. Police Department (LAPD) officers who were charged with excessive force and other charges in the Rodney King beating were announced on April 29, violence erupted around the city,” wrote EGP reporter Jaime Rovero in “Operation Barrio Storm,” published May 7, 1992 in the Eastside Sun.

“The areas of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles received less damage, but was heavily patrolled by local law enforcement and the National Guard,” Rovero wrote in the article focused on the impact of the riots on the mostly Mexican/Latino Eastside.

EGP reports on local impacts of the L.A. Riots. (EGP Archive, May 1992)

This Sunday marks the 20 year anniversary of six days of rioting that rocked the city of Los Angeles following a jury’s finding that police were not guilty of beating Rodney King, despite a video that showed white police officers beating King, an African American, repeatedly.

But it wasn’t just Blacks who were outraged by what could be seen on the videotape. Calls for the arrest of the police officers involved in the beating and loud criticism of the LAPD as a whole came from every corner of the city, including whites and Latinos.

So when the decision came down to acquit, it erupted a firestorm of anger that spread across the city, and beyond the largely African American communities of South Los Angeles.

“These riots encompassed a huge area that stretched over 32 miles from the Hollywood Hills to Long Beach,” according to Major General (Ret.) James D. Delk, in an article for the California State Military Department/The California Military Museum.

More than 2,000 National Guardsman with tanks and heavy artillery were deployed to the city to keep the peace.

Riot police patrol Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles. (EGP Archives, May 1992/Photos by Jose Marin)

Six days of rioting, looting, shootings and arson would ultimately end in 55 deaths, thousands of injuries, and more than 3,000 structures destroyed or damaged. Media attention on the 1992 riots at first focused in on the burning of Korean owned businesses by African American rioters. It was reported as a Black/White, Black/Korean conflict, with little attention on the impact of the riots on Latinos, ether as participants or as victims.

Latinos were the initial victims of the crowd violence, one third of those killed, one third of those arrested. One third to one half of the businesses looted were Latino owned, according to a 1993 report prepared by the Latinos Futures Research Group for the Latino Coalition for a New Los Angeles.

In “Latinos and the Future of Los Angeles,” the authors note that “curiously, many largely Latinos areas were untouched by the violence, even though those areas were inhabited by poorly educated Latinos living and working in poverty,” the same reasoning used by many other researchers to explain the violence that erupted in the Black community.

“The vast majority of Latinos were not involved in the looting or arson,” according to David Hayes-Bautista, Ph.D., one of the reports lead authors. Dr. Hayes-Bautista is currently Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine, UCLA.

EGP spoke to Dr. Hayes-Bautista and asked him about the Latino involvement in the riots, and whether he thought the same conditions that sparked the unrest are still present today.

“The 1992 riots were essentially two different riots,” he told EGP. From a sociological perspective, there were two disturbances, in one Latinos were participants and in the other, they were the victims, he said.

Dr. Hayes-Bautista said while Latinos did participate in the rioting and looting, it’s important to note that they were not a part of the initial outbreak of violence.

“It wasn’t until the third or fourth day, when the social network had collapsed and people could not get food or other things they needed, that you really saw Latinos involved in the looting,” he said.

Many of the Latinos who were taking things from local businesses did not even know about the Rodney King case or the acquittal of the police officers, their participation was more about opportunity than a demonstration of outrage, he said.

Doris Castaneda worked in Lincoln Heights when the rioting broke out. She recalled that her son David, 14 at the time, begged her to let him steal a microwave from a store that was being looted by some of their neighbors.

An immigrant from Guatemala, Castaneda had paid a coyote, (smuggler) to bring her five children to the U.S., just two years earlier. “David was shaking, begging me, telling me ‘come on mama,’ you know you have always dreamed of owning a microwave, but we’re never going to have enough money to buy one,” he said, tears rolling down his face.

“But I told him we work for what he have, we didn’t come here to be thieves,” she told EGP. “But part of me really wanted him to just go and grab it,” she said, speaking in Spanish.

Castaneda said she sent for her children because she thought the U.S. had more to offer them, even though she was able to send home enough money every month to pay for private school, food and clothing, and to help her in-laws whom her children lived with make ends meet.

“I saw that Black man being beaten on TV, but I didn’t know that’s what the people were angry about,” she said. “David didn’t know about it either, he just saw that everybody else was taking stuff so why shouldn’t he,” she said. “Can you imagine, he said that man [store owner] is rich and we’re poor.”

Dr. Hayes-Bautista said part of the collective behavior that happens when social norms breakdown is you do things you might not do otherwise: “We saw it during Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

In areas like East Los Angeles, where there is a strong sense of community, where people feel connected, where there were very active parishes and churches, there was no where the same level of violence or looting, or the burning of businesses that occurred in some other areas, Dr. Hayes-Bautista said.

In those areas it was not as easy for your actions to be anonymous, because the people you are attacking, or the people who own the businesses you are looting, are probably your neighbors.

“After the riots were over, we saw many instances of Latinos returning the items they had stolen,” he noted. They went back to the business and apologized, he said, but again, that was in the areas where the sense of community was the strongest.

The riots were the worst in areas where there were large numbers of unaccompanied men, where there were already problems, isolation, he said.

It didn’t help, he said, that “police at the time saw Blacks and Latinos as the enemy.”

Latinos, like African Americans, had many complaints about how they were treated by the LAPD and the Sheriffs; it’s something they had in common.

Yet, during the riots, many of the residents of East Los Angeles came to the aid of the LAPD and the National Guard, according to a story in EGP newspapers.

“LAPD Thanks E.L.A. Residents,” May 7, 1992: Although there were a few minor incidents of looting, the majority of citizens continued to show restraint and respect the law,” said Capt. Bob Medina.

“They were quick to come to the aid of police and the National Guard, and, in many cases, provide food, drink and lodging at no cost for the officers who were protecting their homes and businesses,” Medina said.

“I don’t know if those same conditions exist at the same level today,” Dr. Hayes-Bautista said, referring to the lack of a sense of connection in some Latino communities where rioting occurred.

Could it happen again today?

“In 2006, half a million people marched in the immigration marches in downtown,” there wasn’t really any violence, he said. They were there in a common purpose, he noted.

While, as Dr. Hayes-Bautista alludes, there is a greater sense of community and purpose among undocumented immigrants and their supporters, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they would still feel marginalized by the failure to bring about comprehensive immigration reform, or discriminated against by laws enacted to criminalize their presence in the US, or that Latinos who are US citizens would also fear those same laws as another excuse for racial profiling.

When you factor in that there are still a lot of Latinos, living in poverty and struggling just to get by, isn’t a riot like the one in 1992 still a possibility?  EGP asked Dr. Hayes-Bautista.

Latino communities are densely networked today, he responded. There is an even greater sense of community, and responsibility to community, so violence, to the level of the 1992 riots, seems less likely he said, still noting, however, that it could happen.

And while the reasons for rioting might have been different for African Americans and Latinos in 1992, today there is a greater sense of understanding between the two groups, Dr. Hayes-Bautista said.

He said the demographics of many of the once mostly African American communities have changed over the years. Latinos, once in the minority in those areas are now the majority in some of the neighborhoods.

The transition was initially fraught with discord, but has improved over time. “I have Latino students at UCLA who grew up in those neighborhoods and indentify themselves as Blacixans,” he said. “They spoke Spanish and English and learned about being Americans from their African American neighbors.”

The African Americans kids are learning about Latinos, and what Cinco de Mayo is really about, Dr. Hayes-Bautista said. They are beginning to learn that Latinos were on their side during the Civil War, for example.

Latinos still represent the majority of the participants in the May Day protest marches and rallies, like the one coming up next Tuesday, African Americans, Asians and other ethnic groups  also turn out in noticeable numbers.

These new connections will transform how those growing up see themselves and others.

The 1992 Los Angeles Riots was the result of many issues coming to a head at the same time. For many the Rodney King beating was the end of the line, but it was also the start of a new coming together in community.

A shorter version of this story was published in all 11 Eastern Group Publication newspapers on April 26, 2012.

For the record: Archive photos used in this report are by Jose Marin.

Supreme Court Case Could Uphold Federal Government’s Authority

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

U.S. Supreme Court justices yesterday questioned the federal government’s arguments that it alone has authority to enforce immigration laws during a hearing on the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, known as SB 1070.

During the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, both conservatives, seemed to support Arizona’s position that SB 1070 only seeks to complement the federal government’s immigration policy.

SB 1070 makes it a criminal offense, for the first time, for undocumented immigrants to be in a state. The crux of the case revolves around whether Arizona officials went too far in usurping the powers of the federal government to enforce immigration laws.

But justices on both sides of the aisle seemed to be having a hard time understanding the federal government’s argument that it does usurp federal law.
Roberts said it seems the Obama Administration’s opposition to SB 1070 is more about where people in the country illegally are.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” the chief justice said.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said it’s the federal government’s responsibility to set immigration policy, and Arizona’s law violates that authority.

“What does the government get, if it does not allow states to defend their borders,” Scalia argued. He took issue with the argument that “the state has no power to close its borders to people who have no right to be there.”

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, one of two woman and only Latina on the Supreme Court, also peppered both sides with questions, but claiming confusion, she hinted that the federal government’s argument against the state “is not selling very well.”

She said the federal government could decline to pick up immigrants, and seemed to be more concerned with the length of time suspected undocumented immigrants are detained.

“As I understand it, when individuals are arrested and held for other crimes, often there’s an immigration check that most states do without this law, she said.

“What I see as critical is the issue of how long,” she said. Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, both conservatives, also seemed to be concerned that a person could be detained for longer than in other criminal cases while their immigration status is being checked.

Throughout his presentation, Arizona Attorney Paul Clement said the federal government has not done enough to control the illegal immigration problem, and states, like Arizona, are entitled to assume those tasks.

In response, Verilli argued, that among other things, SB 1070 could lead not only to mass imprisonment, but also affect bilateral relations with Mexico.
He noted, as an example that between 60 and 70 percent of people deported from U.S. are from Mexico, a country the U.S. seeks close cooperation from.

“We must enforce our laws in a manner satisfactory to Mexico?” Scalia asked rhetorically, in one of his exchanges with Verilli.

Only eight of the nine justices participated in Wednesday’s hearing because Justice Elena Kagan will abstain from ruling, she served as Solicitor General when the same law was challenged in lower courts last year.

Upon leaving the hearing, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said she was optimistic that her state will win the case, but she did not rule out that the law, if upheld, could open the door to the incarceration of approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants estimated to live in her state.

In addition to Brewer, the crowded audience included senior White House officials, SB 1070’s author, former Republican Senator Russell Pearce, and Kris Kobach, the architect of laws against illegal immigration and a prominent adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Just like the first hearing on SB 1070, thousands of activists along the border and on the steps of the court Wednesday held vigils and protests to demand the law be struck down. Supporters of SB1070 also demonstrated outside the Supreme Court.

Immigrant rights activists held a vigil and press conference Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, in advance of the arguments.

They said the landmark case could set a precedent regarding to what extent individual states can create immigration enforcement laws.

“We are here today because we want the American public to know that immigrant communities are watching the Supreme Court debate against the anti-constitutional Arizona law SB 1070. We are here today because we stand for one law, not 50 state immigration laws. We are here today because we stand for equality, not discrimination,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILRA).

Salas said allowing states to create immigration enforcement laws legalizes racial profiling by giving local law enforcement the right to arrest Latinos or Asians, in particular, who may be perceived as being foreign born.

“The constitution declares that any person living within its borders is protected by the law of the land, and for states that immigration law is in the hands of the federal government… the Supreme Court must stand by the constitution, must stand by the spirit and values of America: equality, justice and equal protection. They must strike it [SB1070] down,” Salas said.

The Obama administration has two cases before the Supreme Court, one to defend the health care reform and the other to repeal SB 1070. Both were enacted in 2010 and will likely impact the presidential election this year.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June, five months before the General Election on November 6.

Tribunal Supremo Parece Apoyar la Ley Controversial de Arizona

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

La mayoría de los jueces del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. cuestionó el miércoles, 25 de abril, los argumentos del Gobierno federal de que sólo él tiene potestad para hacer cumplir las leyes de inmigración, durante una audiencia sobre la constitucionalidad de la polémica ley SB1070 de Arizona.

Nota relacionada: Defensores de Inmigrantes Observan Audiencias del Tribunal Supremo Sobre la Ley SB 1070

Durante una audiencia, que duró casi hora y media, tanto el presidente del Tribunal Supremo, John Roberts, como el juez Antonin Scalia, ambos de corte conservador, parecieron apoyar la posición del Gobierno de Arizona de que la SB1070 sólo busca complementar las tareas migratorias del Gobierno federal.

La SB1070 convierte en delito penal, por primera vez, la presencia en un estado de inmigrantes indocumentados, y el meollo del caso gira en torno a si el gobierno de Arizona se extralimitó al usurpar los poderes del Gobierno federal para hacer cumplir las leyes de inmigración.

Para Roberts, la oposición del Gobierno de Barack Obama a la SB1070 pareciera indicar que “no quiere saber” dónde están los inmigrantes indocumentados.

“¿Qué busca el Gobierno, si no permite que los estados defiendan sus fronteras”, argumentó por su parte Scalia.

La jueza Sonia Sotomayor, actualmente la segunda mujer y única latina en el Supremo, también acribilló a preguntas a ambas partes en el caso pero, alegando confusión, dejó entrever que el Gobierno federal “no estaba vendiendo bien” sus argumentos contrarios a la ley de ese estado.

A lo largo de su exposición, el abogado de Arizona, Paul Clement, dijo que el Gobierno federal no ha hecho lo suficiente para controlar el problema de la inmigración ilegal y que estados como Arizona tienen derecho a asumir tareas migratorias.

Frente a ello, el abogado del Gobierno federal ante el Tribunal Supremo, Donald Verilli, argumentó, entre otras cosas, que la SB1070 no sólo podría conducir a encarcelamientos masivos, sino que podría afectar a las relaciones bilaterales con México.

Señaló, a manera de ejemplo, que entre el 60 % y 70 % de las personas deportadas de EE.UU. son a México, país con el que EE.UU. busca una estrecha cooperación.

“¿Tenemos que aplicar nuestras leyes de una manera que satisfaga a México?”, preguntó de manera retórica Scalia, en uno de sus intercambios con Verilli.

Sólo ocho de los nueve magistrados participaron en la audiencia ya que la jueza Elena Kagan se retiró en diciembre pasado del caso por su vínculo con el litigio de la SB1070 en su antiguo papel como abogada del Gobierno ante el Tribunal Supremo.

Al salir de la audiencia, la gobernadora de Arizona, Jan Brewer, se mostró optimista de que ganará el caso, a la vez que no descartó que la ley, si se mantiene en pie, abra la puerta al encarcelamiento masivo de los aproximadamente 400.000 indocumentados que se calcula viven en su estado.

Además de Brewer, la concurrida audiencia contó con la asistencia de funcionarios de alto rango de la Casa Blanca, el autor de la SB1070 y exsenador estatal republicano, Russell Pearce, y Kris Kobach, arquitecto de leyes contra la inmigración ilegal y prominente asesor del aspirante presidencial republicano Mitt Romney.

En paralelo a la primera y única audiencia de la SB1070 ante el Supremo, miles de activistas a lo largo de la zona de la frontera sur de EE.UU. y en las gradas del tribunal realizaron vigilias y protestas para exigir la revocación de la ley.

Militantes a favor de la SB1070 también se manifestaron frente al Tribunal Supremo.

La Administración Obama tiene ya ante el Tribunal Supremo el caso en el que defiende la reforma sanitaria y este caso en el que busca la revocación de la SB1070, ambas promulgadas en 2010 y que tendrán repercusión en el proceso electoral este año.

Se prevé que el Tribunal Supremo emita su dictamen sobre ambos casos para finales de junio próximo, cinco meses antes de los comicios generales del próximo 6 de noviembre, en los que Obama se juega la reelección.

Nueva Norma para Autos Incautados Entra en Vigor

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A pesar de una demanda entablada por el sindicato de la policía ya comenzó a aplicarse en Los Ángeles la nueva norma que reduce el tiempo estipulado decomiso de vehículos de conductores sin licencia de 30 días a sólo uno.

La medida presentada por el jefe del Departamento de Policía Los Ángeles (LAPD), Charlie Beck y aprobada por la comisión civil que supervisa a LAPD, permite que un vehículo que haya sido decomisado por ser conducido por una persona sin licencia, pueda ser reclamado al día siguiente por un conductor que presente licencia válida y seguro vigente.

La nueva política administrativa -que comenzó a regir el domingo- sigue generando controversia entre quienes la consideran un alivio para la comunidad inmigrante y quienes creen que viola las leyes estatales y premia a los indocumentados.

La medida es objeto de una demanda por parte de la Liga Protectora de la Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPPL) -el sindicato de la policía- que solicitó una clarificación judicial sobre las responsabilidades de los agentes pues la ley estatal de California establece una duración de 30 días en estos casos de decomiso.

Además el LAPPL argumentó que el cambio en la política pone a los policías en riesgo de demandas civiles si el conductor sin licencia se ve envuelto en un accidente en el que hayan heridos graves o muertos en los 30 días siguientes al decomiso.

Las organizaciones defensoras de los inmigrantes han aplaudido la medida alegando que a los indocumentados -por su condición- no se les otorga licencia de conducir en California y el decomisar sus vehículos durante 30 días con altos costos de multas, grúas y patios de decomiso, constituye un doble castigo injusto.

Supreme Court Case Could Uphold Federal Government’s Authority

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

U.S. Supreme Court justices yesterday questioned the federal government’s arguments that it alone has authority to enforce immigration laws during a hearing on the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, known as SB 1070.

During the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, both conservatives, seemed to support Arizona’s position that SB 1070 only seeks to complement the federal government’s immigration policy.

SB 1070 makes it a criminal offense, for the first time, for undocumented immigrants to be in a state. The crux of the case revolves around whether Arizona officials went too far in usurping the powers of the federal government to enforce immigration laws.

But justices on both sides of the aisle seemed to be having a hard time understanding the federal government’s argument that it does usurp federal law.
Roberts said it seems the Obama Administration’s opposition to SB 1070 is more about where people in the country illegally are.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” the chief justice said.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said it’s the federal government’s responsibility to set immigration policy, and Arizona’s law violates that authority.

“What does the government get, if it does not allow states to defend their borders,” Scalia argued. He took issue with the argument that “the state has no power to close its borders to people who have no right to be there.”

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, one of two woman and only Latina on the Supreme Court, also peppered both sides with questions, but claiming confusion, she hinted that the federal government’s argument against the state “is not selling very well.”

She said the federal government could decline to pick up immigrants, and seemed to be more concerned with the length of time suspected undocumented immigrants are detained.

“As I understand it, when individuals are arrested and held for other crimes, often there’s an immigration check that most states do without this law, she said.
“What I see as critical is the issue of how long,” she said. Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, both conservatives, also seemed to be concerned that a person could be detained for longer than in other criminal cases while their immigration status is being checked.

Throughout his presentation, Arizona Attorney Paul Clement said the federal government has not done enough to control the illegal immigration problem, and states, like Arizona, are entitled to assume those tasks.

In response, Verilli argued, that among other things, SB 1070 could lead not only to mass imprisonment, but also affect bilateral relations with Mexico.
He noted, as an example that between 60 and 70 percent of people deported from U.S. are from Mexico, a country the U.S. seeks close cooperation from.

“We must enforce our laws in a manner satisfactory to Mexico?” Scalia asked rhetorically, in one of his exchanges with Verilli.

Only eight of the nine justices participated in Wednesday’s hearing because Justice Elena Kagan will abstain from ruling, she served as Solicitor General when the same law was challenged in lower courts last year.

Upon leaving the hearing, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said she was optimistic that her state will win the case, but she did not rule out that the law, if upheld, could open the door to the incarceration of approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants estimated to live in her state.

In addition to Brewer, the crowded audience included senior White House officials, SB 1070’s author, former Republican Senator Russell Pearce, and Kris Kobach, the architect of laws against illegal immigration and a prominent adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Just like the first hearing on SB 1070, thousands of activists along the border and on the steps of the court Wednesday held vigils and protests to demand the law be struck down. Supporters of SB1070 also demonstrated outside the Supreme Court.

Immigrant rights activists held a vigil and press conference Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, in advance of the arguments.

They said the landmark case could set a precedent regarding to what extent individual states can create immigration enforcement laws.

“We are here today because we want the American public to know that immigrant communities are watching the Supreme Court debate against the anti-constitutional Arizona law SB 1070. We are here today because we stand for one law, not 50 state immigration laws. We are here today because we stand for equality, not discrimination,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILRA).

Salas said allowing states to create immigration enforcement laws legalizes racial profiling by giving local law enforcement the right to arrest Latinos or Asians, in particular, who may be perceived as being foreign born.

“The constitution declares that any person living within its borders is protected by the law of the land, and for states that immigration law is in the hands of the federal government… the Supreme Court must stand by the constitution, must stand by the spirit and values of America: equality, justice and equal protection. They must strike it [SB1070] down,” Salas said.

The Obama administration has two cases before the Supreme Court, one to defend the health care reform and the other to repeal SB 1070. Both were enacted in 2010 and will likely impact the presidential election this year.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June, five months before the General Election on November 6.

Teen Candidate Makes Bid for 2015 Commerce Election

April 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Fifteen-year old Commerce resident Johncito Peraza is counting down to his 18th birthday: the age when he will be able to run for city council.
Like many teens his age, Peraza enjoys playing sports, talking to friends on Facebook, and watching movies.

But unlike many of his peers, he regularly attends city council and commission meetings, speaks at school district board meetings, and tunes into C-SPAN every morning before going to school.

Peraza launched his campaign to run for the Commerce City Council in January, but will not be able to run until the March 2015 election. He is not allowed to fundraise or take donations for his campaign, but says in the meantime he can be getting the word out about his intentions to run.

Johncito Peraza

Proposed cuts to youth and teen programs prompted him to run for city council. “As a teen, our programs are the ones that are first getting cut. The YES [youth summer employment] program is being targeted and I always believe there should be more jobs for people… by cutting that program, those who are in the program, they are going to be on the streets,” Peraza said.

He says there is a “crisis,” the likes of which the city has not seen in forty years, and budget cuts are threatening many vital city programs, such as the youth employment program, the library, and sports programs like soccer.

Peraza is particularly passionate about keeping his Atlantic branch of the Commerce Public Library open. “I’m an Atlantic Library product. I’ve been in every summer reading program. I check out the books. I use the computers. I rent out DVDs, laptops and all that stuff,” Peraza told EGP during an interview at the Atlantic Library branch, which was bustling with activity and patrons.

A recent proposal to close the Atlantic library branch was especially concerning to him, in particular because the city administrator is paid $250,000 a year, the same amount that’s needed to keep the library open for hundreds of people who visit the library every week.

Many people’s first reaction to Peraza’s bid for city council is to laugh. When they tell him that he is too young, he responds by telling them about his ideas. He says he is trying to get more support from outside of his own neighborhoods in Bandini and Rosewood Park where he grew up.

Some community members are apprehensive about someone this young getting exposed to the seedier side of politics. Randy Munoz who lives in Commerce and runs the Latino Diabetes Association based in Montebello provided some words of warning for Peraza, telling EGP in an email that politics is a “vicious business” and not always a “selfless calling.

Still, having someone Peraza’s age run may not be a bad idea. “He will up against more seasoned ‘professional elected officials’” and must learn more about “governance, fiscal budgeting, and various protocols before he gets in there,” Munoz said, but Peraza’s lack of experience is “maybe something we should embrace for once; being he has not been tainted yet,” Munoz said.

To others it seems natural that Peraza would try for a city council seat. Rosewood Park School principal Robert Cornejo says Peraza is very organized and has always been involved in the community, including as a founding member of the Boy’s Council, a 30 student committee that volunteers its time around the school and works to keep the school safe and clean.

“Not many students his age take the time to reflect on what is happening in their school and community and how they can make a difference. It does not surprise me that Johncito would want to serve in public office. He takes the time to research issues of importance to the community,” Cornejo told EGP in an email.

Now a Bell Gardens High School student, Johncito Peraza (second from left) was a founding member of the Boys Council at Rosewood Park School, according to his principal Robert Cornejo (center)

Peraza’s interest in government began in first grade during the nail-biting 2000 George W. Bush versus Al Gore election. “Everyone thinks one vote is not going to make a difference, but in that election, I saw the difference, all the negative campaigning, all the good campaigning, how Al Gore went to court with Bush, and how less than a hundred votes made a difference. It sparked an interest in me,” he said.

In recent years, he got drawn in by fireworks in local city politics when two city council members became subjects of a recall campaign. He said he did not support any particular candidate during the recall, but did go door to door to tell people to vote if they felt the two candidates had done something wrong.

Peraza says he is nonpartisan and tries to talk to as many city council members about the community’s concerns, either at city council public comment sessions, or during meetings at the officials’ offices. He has met with several city council members already, including Denise Robles, former Mayor Hugo Argumedo, Tina Baca del Rio, Ivan Altamirano, and Lela Leon and says he is trying to get some resolutions going.

He also tries to meet with elected officials and politicians outside the city, including Ian Calderon, a candidate for, and Ron Calderon, Los Angeles City Council Eric Garcetti, and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. He is even pushing his endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate Dan Hughes.

“Diane Feinstein has been on the senate a couple of years now. I haven’t seen much change. Maybe it’s time for a new senator,” Peraza said about why he is endorsing Hughes.

He says he has worked with the Montebello Unified School District the most. “My main concern is the education within that district. If there is a scholarship, don’t wait one week and send a memo to teachers, because not all of them are organized, and the teachers will lose it. Send out a letter to the students, parents, you’ve got all their addresses. Get a Facebook page. Everyone’s on Facebook. You can connect with everyone a bit faster,” he said.

Though Peraza has always been interested in government, what really got him interested in local politics was the death of a friend from lung cancer. This friend, who was 15 when he passed away, was the one who first attempted to “draft” him for city council.

“I didn’t start this campaign. A friend of mine did … I told him ‘You’re crazy, I’m a teen… no one’s going to vote for me. At first it started off as a joke… but you know, I started noticing more likes [to my Facebook page] and they’re like, you should definitely run,” he said.

Neighbors, friends his age, all said he should run. His sister continued the draft in January. He decided he would give it shot and soon started up his campaign website.

Peraza said that because of his friend’s death he is also keenly interested in pushing for a citywide Green Zones program that was originally proposed by a local environmental justice group. He says he lives on Astor Avenue, right next to a large railyard.

While he represents people his age, he says he also represents blue-collar workers in the city, especially because of his father.

“My father’s a blue-collar worker. They are the ones that are always getting targeted. If jobs get cut, they’re the ones to get affected. If benefits get cut they’re the first one to get affected. You don’t see the higher [up] workers getting their benefits cut. I represent the average resident. I’m going to set an example,” he says.

Peraza says his father is his inspiration. “He is a hardworking man, and the economy is tough. The economy has affected my family really bad. I see him stretching that check every fifteen days, making sure food is on the table, making sure the mortgage is paid… he will not give up,” he says.

Both Peraza’s parents are Salvadorean immigrants who have lived in Commerce for 15 to 16 years. His father previously lived in Laguna Hills.

Peraza plans to go to college in the Los Angeles area and plans to juggle college with his campaign to run for city council. He insists he does not see city council as a “stepping stone” to a higher office. While he says people have told him he should become president some day, he says he wouldn’t want the job.

He says he draws inspiration from another young politician, John F. Kennedy.

“He was very young… many people saw him as an instrument and a joke, because he was young. No one took him seriously,” Peraza said. “Many people see me like that. I’m young. Many people see that I’m going to be a joke. I’m like, look at John F. Kennedy. He’s so young… he stood up for what he believed in even if he stood alone.”

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