How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What really led to Brisenia Flores' murder?

Since the conviction last week of Shawna Forde for murder in the 2009 home invasion slaying of a Latino father and his 9-year-old daughter in rural Arivaca, Arizona, there have been sighs of relief among those who had called for justice, but also bitter questions about how the murder and trial were covered by media, in particular the degree of attention paid to Forde's radical nativism.

Forde, the ringleader of a trio accused of carrying out the killings, was also the leader of a Minuteman splinter group known as Minuteman American Defense, or MAD. She had been pushed out of the more mainstream Minuteman Civil Defense Corps for what members described to CNN as "unstable behavior."

Forde was not convicted of a hate crime. The motive for the home invasion that left Brisenia Flores and her father Raul dead was ostensibly robbery, for which Forde was also convicted. But there has been much criticism that mainstream media not only arrived late to the story, but in its coverage failed to sufficiently address the beliefs espoused by Forde as relevant to the crime.


Forty years later, controversy over journalist Ruben Salazar's death lives on

Photo courtesy of cindylu/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An old interior shot of the Silver Dollar, the bar where Ruben Salazar was fatally struck, taken from a UCLA collection

Over the past several days, the Los Angles Times has featured an extensive compilation of records pertaining to the life and death of veteran journalist Ruben Salazar, an award-winning Times columnist and news director for KMEX-TV who was killed in 1970 during a violent protest in East Los Angeles.

Salazar died after being struck on the head by a tear gas projectile, fired by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy into the bar where Salazar was taking a break. An early draft of a report by the county Office of Independent Review, which is officially due out today, points to Salazar's death being an accident. Still, there are those who continue to have doubts.

The comments from readers under the recent stories in the LAT have been interesting. Some don't remember the killing, which at the time rocked L.A.'s Mexican American community and the burgeoning Chicano civil rights movement. Some have wondered why the violent death of a journalist 40 years ago at the hands of local authorities should still matter today. Others who remember the incident not only recall the details, but continue to wonder if Salazar was targeted. The journalist was an outspoken critic of how law enforcement dealt with Latino residents.


In the news this morning: Doubts linger over Salazar's death, an 'omnibus' immigration bill in Arizona, Miami housewives, more

Ruben Salazar: A witness remains suspicious about Ruben Salazar's death - Los Angeles Times The draft version of a report due out today does not assign blame for the death of the veteran Los Angeles journalist during a 1970 protest, but a photographer who witnessed the scene outside the building in which Salazar was struck by a tear gas projectile still has his doubts.

Pearce drops “omnibus” immigration bill - Arizona Capitol Times In addition to the anti-birthright citizenship legislation being heard in the state senate today, there is now a sweeping bill introduced by Sen. Russell Pearce that would deny undocumented immigrants access to public benefits, and prohibit everything from driving a car to enrolling in community colleges.

In Calif., US-born Latinos far more likely to get liver cancer - California Watch A study finds that for Latino males born in the United States, rates of liver cancer are more than double those of foreign-born Latinos. Meanwhile, for Asians born in this country, liver cancer rates fall by half or more.


A few good late-morning reads for a holiday Monday

It's a holiday, so today's list is a little different. No big headlines, just a few eclectic selections published over the weekend that are better suited to leisurely reading over a third cup of coffee:

Plastic Surgery Among Ethnic Groups Mirrors Beauty Ideals - New York Times A great if slightly disturbing story about the tastes in plastic surgery among different ethnic groups, with patients generally more interested in pursuing each group's ideal of beauty rather than obscuring ethnic traits.

Photo essay: Why Brisenia Flores matters - Crooks and Liars Was the involvement of convicted killer Shawna Forde in a Minuteman splinter group not given enough weight in the coverage of her trial for the 2009 murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in an Arizona border town? The essay includes photos of the home where the girl lived and died, including her abandoned teeter-totter, and video of Forde speaking as an anti-illegal immigration activist in 2007.


Five states with the biggest Latino population growth so far as 2010 census numbers roll out

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Screen shot of U.S. Census Bureau map showing state-by-state 2010 data, including ethnic populations

The biggest news yet from the 2010 Census as state-by-state ethnic and racial data comes out is yesterday's numbers from Texas, which show that the state's Latino population has soared, accounting for 65 percent of its population growth between 2000 and 2010. The overall population growth will give Texas four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, making for much speculation about how much of a political impact Latinos in the nation's second-most populous state will have.

Of the states whose data is out so far, Texas has by far the biggest share of Latino residents. But some of the biggest percentage growth seen yet is in states that are non-traditional destinations for Latinos, immigrants and their descendants. Though their overall Latino populations remain small, states like Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, and South Dakota are seeing triple-digit growth, and Virginia, home to a recent rash of of anti-illegal immigration activism, is close behind.