How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

20 years after the Rodney King beating: Different takes on what's changed, what hasn't

It's been 20 years today since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, an incident captured on grainy video by George Holliday, a resident of Lake View Terrace who heard the commotion and captured the beating from his balcony.

The videotape, and the riots that followed in late April after four white officers accused in the beating were acquitted, tore the lid off long-simmering racial and socioeconomic tensions in South Los Angeles and other working-class sections of the city. It also created a national conversation about the treatment of minority groups at the hands of authorities.

Just about every news outlet today has a take on the 20th anniversary of the beating, ranging from interviews with King, who suffered serious injuries and later sued, to explorations of how police conduct business in an era where cameras are omnipresent. A sampling:

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In the news this morning: L.A. 20 years after the King beating, Latino cops sue for discrimination, CA census results due out soon, more

Latino Cops, MALDEF Sue California Police Department - Fox News Latino Several Latino officers are suing the police department in Westminster for discrimination and violation of labor rights, saying they were denied promotions and special assignments because they are Latino.


California's 2010 census results to come out next week - San Jose Mercury News The U.S. Census Bureau is due to release the California results of the 2010 census next week, allowing a new statewide redistricting commission to begin redrawing political boundaries.

Anti illegal immigration bill with a twist - ValleyCentral.com A Texas bill proposes making it a state jail felony to knowingly hire undocumented workers, but makes an exception for Texans hiring domestic help: the jobs exempted include "maid, lawn care taker or another house worker at a single family residence."

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Video: Running migrant family guerilla art in L.A., pre-Banksy

A post yesterday on a pre-Banksy artistic rendering of the running migrant family freeway sign - one of innumerable pre-Banksy versions, actually - is now in turn inspiring art submissions.

I received this YouTube video of an early-morning guerilla art sprint involving the running family last May 1, shot by a USC film student. Multiple prints of the running characters were installed around the city, dangled over freeway overpasses in the hazy, subdued golden light that dawn brings to a smoggy town. Shaky camera, great footage.

As mentioned in previous posts, the familiar image started life as a caution sign along San Diego-area freeways in the early 1990s, a warning for motorists to watch for pedestrians at a time when smugglers were leading their charges across lanes to evade immigration authorities. Many migrants were hit and killed. Long before British street artist Banksy's much-covered "Caution" stencil went up (and went down) in Los Angeles recently, a number of mostly Latino artists in the U.S. had been claiming the image as protest art. The characters have been reinterpreted as everything from Pilgrims to college graduates, even as the Holy Family.

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Among 'psycho-emotional' effects of immigration on kids: Communication breakdown

Photo by TruShu/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The immigrant advocacy blog Project Economic Refugee has featured a much-tweeted Q&A with Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, the author of a new book titled Listen to the Children: Conversations with Immigrant Families.

The interview covers the "psycho-emotional impacts of immigration" on the children in immigrant families, touching on issues that range from family separation after immigration raids to spirituality. One issue that's not so widely discussed stood out, however, and that's family communication.

Frazier discusses the odd role reversal that takes place when children become interpreters for adult family members, and the incomplete communication between parents and children that begins to occur as children learn English, while the native language of the parents is still spoken at home. The piece features this excerpt from the book:

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In the news this morning: More state bills copy SB 1070, minority vs. undocumented workers, Supreme Court takes on post-911 case, more

Fourteen States Weighing Bills Modeled After Arizona’s SB 1070 - ColorLines At least 14 state legislatures have introduced bills similar to SB 1070 in the current legislative session, with legislators undeterred by the lawsuits that have kept Arizona from completely implementing the law.

GOP's anti-immigrant stance could turn Texas into a blue State - The Washington Post Could Texas turn Democratic? Columnist Harold Meyerson's read on census data and the political winds.

GOP: Illegal immigrants taking minorities' jobs - The Associated Press Black lawmakers have accused accused of trying to "manufacture tension" between African-Americans and immigrants as GOP House members argued in a hearing that more minorities would be working were it not for illegal immigration.

Supreme Court Considers Whether Ashcroft Can Be Held Liable In 'Material Witness' Case - NPR The Supreme Court is to take up a case tomorrow stemming from the war on terrorism that involves the arrest, detention and interrogation of Abdullah al-Kidd, a former star running back at the University of Idaho.

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