How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

East L.A.'s Self Help Graphics is moving

Photo by Memo Pisa El Lodo/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The familiar tile-studded building at the corner of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Gage Avenue that since the late 1970s has housed Self Help Graphics & Art will no longer be home to the revered art center, an Eastside fixture whose recent years have been rough ones.

On Thursday the center announced its impending move to 1300 E. 1st Street, the site of a former fish packing plant near the L.A. River in Boyle Heights, which it will share with a business that works on large-scale art installations. The move comes three years after the building, which had been owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was sold to a private investment firm that since put it up for sale.

From a news release:

The high cost of rent at 3802 Cesar Chavez in addition to a reduction in the use of space created the need for Self Help to search for a new location. The search also included the serious exploration of purchasing the 3802 Cesar Chavez Avenue building. The move to the new location at 1300 1st Street comes with a substantial decrease in monthly rent.

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What's alleged in the FBI Muslim surveillance lawsuit

Photo by sadaqah/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Islamic Center of Irvine, a mosque allegedly targeted by the FBI informant

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this week alleges that a former FBI informant, an ex-fitness instructor and ex-convict named Craig Monteilh, violated Muslims' freedom of religion when he spied on Orange County mosques for the FBI between 2006 and 2007.

Monteilh posed as a new convert to Islam, the lawsuit alleges, recording conversations and meetings with a device hidden in his key ring and a camera embedded in a shirt button.

What did some of these conversations entail? According to the complaint, the informant pressed people on the topic of "violent jihad," scaring some at the Islamic Center of Irvine to the point of calling the cops:

Agents Allen and Armstrong had instructed Monteilh to ask general questions about jihad from the beginning of the operation. In early 2007, they instructed him to start asking more pointedly about jihad and armed conflict, then to more openly suggest his own willingness to engage in violence.

Pursuant to these instructions, in one-on-one conversations, Monteilh began asking people about violent jihad, expressing frustration over the oppression of Muslims around the world, pressing them for their views, and implying that he might be willing or able to take action.

In about May 2007, on instructions from his handlers, Monteilh told a number of individuals that he believed it was his duty as a Muslim to take violent actions, and that he had access to weapons.

Many members of the Muslim community at ICOI then reported these statements to community leaders, including Hussam Ayloush. Ayloush both called the FBI to report the statements and instructed the individuals who had heard the statements to report them to the Irvine Police Department, which they did.

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From Arizona, with opinions: Readers respond to immigration bills

Photo by midwinter/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Readers' comments are usually vary in length and flavor, but yesterday I received two from Arizona natives that begin similarly and are almost mirror images, though they present two very different Grand Canyon State points of view.

Arizona, of course, has returned as ground zero in the immigration debate (not that it ever relinquished this title) after a state senate committee gave the green light to a series of bills Tuesday night that make last year's partly-implemented SB 1070 seem mild. Among other things, the bills seek to deny U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants, bar undocumented immigrants from public services including basic ones like registering a car and getting a marriage license, and make hospitals check patients' immigration status. And now a fed-up group of Pima County residents wants to secede.

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In the news this morning: A racially diverse Oregon, Muslims targeted, biracial twins, Arizona's stringent immigration proposals, more

Oregon's 2010 Census shows striking Latino and Asian gains - OregonLive.com New census data is showing that Oregon's Latino population climbed 63 percent in 10 years. The state's Asian population has also grown dramatically, by 41 percent.

Protest outside NY Rep King's office - Wall Street Journal Planned House hearings on the "radicalization of the American Muslim community" drew protesters on both sides of the issue to the New York Republican's Long Island office earlier this week.

Local Muslims outraged by alleged FBI surveillance, lawyers claim - Los Angeles Times A lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses the FBI and seven employees of infringing on the constitutional rights of hundreds of members of the local Muslim community by using paid informants to infiltrate mosques.

Twins, One White, One Black Born to Biracial Parents Stirs Up Issues of Race - ABC News The twins born to a biracial couple highlight the national trend, with one in seven marriages now between partners of different races.

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American snapshot: Hawthorne

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A sign advertising what's for sale at the Fiji Food Mart on Hawthorne Boulevard, February 21, 2011

Chivo, taro leaves, and ghee: The city that is the home of the Beach Boys is also home to a diverse population that's close to a third African American, half Latino and around six percent Asian, with a small Pacific Islander population as well.

This Hawthorne Boulevard grocery store advertising goat meat in English and Spanish, taro leaves and Indian clarified butter (ghee) caters to Fijian, Tongan and Samoan immigrants and carries specialties like bags of UFOs, circular "burger flavoured" munchies imported from Fiji that taste better than they sound. The ghee is a nod to Indo-Fijians, descendants of Indian laborers who make up a substantial chunk of Fiji's population.

All within easy walking distance of a soul food restaurant and a soccer supply store that caters to Latinos, just a few of the ethnic businesses on this busy commercial strip.

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