In the mid-1980s, immigrants fleeing north to the U.S. from Mexico were risking their lives by crossing through busy freeways. Dozens of immigrants were struck by moving vehicles and some immigrants were left watching their parents or children die from their injuries, according to San Diego Union-Tribune. The frequency of the accidents prompted the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to create a sign to alert drivers to the danger that was specific to that stretch of the interstate along the U.S.-Mexico border. There were originally ten signs along the 5 Freeway alerting drivers to the danger of people running across the freeway. Today, only one remains and, according to Los Angeles Times, as soon as it’s gone, it won’t be coming back.
The decreasing number of border crossings means that the signs are now considered obsolete.
According to Cindy Carcamo of The Los Angeles Times, 1986 was the most active time for border crossings in California. Border patrol agents in the San Diego area detained 628,000 people who crossed the border into the U.S. Despite being rather small in comparison to the rest of the border, Los Angeles Times reports that the border along the California state line accounted for almost 40 percent of all immigration arrests in the 1990s. The sheer number of people crossing is why CalTrans graphic designer John Hood was assigned the task of creating a sign that would let drivers know what to expect on that stretch of freeway. Since then, the number of people crossing over from Mexico to California has seen a significant drop, with only 31,891 arrested for crossing the border in 2016, according to Los Angeles Times.
When the signs were first revealed, there were immediate and strong reactions from all sides of the immigration debate, according to San Diego Union-Tribune. Immigrants and Latinos saw the sign as dehumanizing and akin to showing immigrants as faceless animals. Those who were against undocumented immigration thought that the state should not be spending time and money trying to keep them safe.
“Either you liked it or you hated it,” Steve Saville, a veteran CalTrans spokesman, told San Diego Union-Tribune. “It was an extraordinary measure to deal with an extraordinary situation.”
The road sign became a part of pop culture, with artists taking the original image and reimagining it. Here’s one from Chicano artist Lalo Alcaraz.
“You create your work, and that’s the extent of it. You never envision something like that to happen,” Hood told Los Angeles Times. “It’s become an iconic element. It lives on.”
It has also been used as a politically-charged message about immigration and political climate.
CREDIT: GETSTUMPED / Reddit
The signs above appeared aroundSouthernn California leading up to the 2016 election. It was created by street artist Unsavory Agents to be pro-Trump’s immigration rhetoric.
“It’s served its purpose,” Hood told his son when they visited the last sign, according to Los Angeles Times.
Chesa Boudin is running for district attorney in San Francisco. At a forum hosted by Project Rebound, Boudin was asked about the growing white supremacy in the U.S. and his plans to combat it. The candidate did not shy away from the question and attacked it head-on in English and Spanish to be inclusive. Here’s what he had to say.
San Francisco DA candidate Chesa Boudin is on a mission to tackle the growing issue of white supremacy in the U.S.
The candidate was asked directly how he would combat white supremacy if he was the district attorney of San Francisco. To that end, Boudin sharted his answer with the audience in English and Spanish so everyone could be included in the discussion.
Before anything, Boudin started by discussing the history of the U.S. and the ingrained racism in the country.
“We need to start with a history that goes way back before this country,” Boudin told the audience. “We need to recognize that in this country, the United States, racism has very deep roots. Very deep.”
Boudin added: “So when you talk about white supremacy, that’s not a joke. That’s what’s happening today in the White House.”
Boudin told the audience that we can’t ignore racism and white supremacy, which is everywhere.
“That’s why I’ve committed toa whole series of policies that are on my website, to fight back against white supremacy and against racism,” Boudin said.
Boudin also committed to creating an immigration unit within the DA’s office to counter the issues facing the community.
His impassioned speech caught people’s attention across the U.S.
Project Rebound, the organization that hosted the forum, is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated people to reenter society. Project Rebound helps people who were incarcerated by enrolling them in classes at the San Francisco State University and supports them on their journey. The organization strives to reduce recidivism rates through education and career building.
Boudin is the child of incarcerated parents. His mother and father were getaway drivers at the Brink’s robbery in Nanuet, New York in 1981. It was an armed robbery that led to the death of one Brink’s guard and two Nyack police officers. His mother was sentenced to 20 years to life while his father was sentenced to 75 years in connection to the crime. They were both members of the Weather Underground, a left militant organization.
Some people are celebrating Boudin’s unapologetic approach to discussing white supremacy and racism in the U.S.
Boudin ended his conversation about white supremacy and racism with a simple sentence.
“If we can’t name it, how are we ever going to beat it,” Boudin said.
Boudin has laid out how he plans to tackle racial disparities while in office.
Here are four points Boudin has committed to in his fight against racial disparity, according to his website.
Commit to transparent decision-making. The criminal justice system can’t be fair if it isn’t also transparent. And right now, it’s anything but. The office will publish data about the demographics of people stopped, arrested, jailed, convicted, and sentenced to increase the transparency and accountability of every agency involved in the system. There is no excuse for obscuring this information from public view, and by forcing us to grapple more seriously with the racist outcomes the system produces, we will be better equipped to change them.
Require a racial impact statement in every case. The racist outcomes produced by our criminal justice system will be less tolerable when decision-makers are regularly forced to confront them. Accordingly, prosecutors will be required to state on the record–in open court and before the judge–the racial bias statistics relevant to the stage of the case being addressed. For example, before asking that an African American defendant be detained prior to trial, a prosecutor must state on the record the percentage of African Americans in jail on pretrial detention and the percentage of African Americans who reside in San Francisco. Before making a sentencing recommendation, a prosecutor must state the disparity in sentences among Black and White defendants.
Implement race-blind charging and plea bargaining. We should do everything we can to make sure that neither explicit nor implicit biases impact decisions made by the District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors will not know the demographic information of people before filing charges. The office will explore applying the same process for plea bargains, having a second prosecutor review a file, blind to demographic information, before making an initial plea offer.
No more prosecuting racist gang enhancements. When a person is convicted of a felony, they may be sentenced to time in prison. Under Penal Code § 186.22, part of the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP Act), prosecutors can seek additional prison time beyond that received for the underlying felony when the person accused of the crime is found to be gang-involved. But here’s the thing: This mechanism, known as a “gang enhancement,” is racist, ineffective, and unnecessary.
For Boudin, the integrity of the entire judicial system is questioned when racism prevails.
“When our criminal justice system treats people differently based on the color of their skin, the integrity of the entire system is undermined,” reads Boudin’s website. “Individuals and entire communities come to distrust law enforcement, making our city not only less just, but also less safe. Eradicating racism from our society is a long project, and one we need to take on much more seriously than we have. The criminal justice system, capable of producing incalculable harm, is an important place to start.”
Some people are thankful for someone who is willing to move the conversation forward using inclusivity.
Boudin’s plan is bold and has voters excited as the Nov. 5 election for the San Francisco district attorney fast approaches.
You can watch the full video below and see what Boudin has planned.
What do you think about Boudin’s plan to tackle white supremacy and racism?
A Texas sheriff is eating his words after his bigotted comments came back to bite him in the worst way.
A day after Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn referred to undocumented immigrants as “drunks” who would “run over” children, his own son was reportedly arrested on charges of public intoxication. It has also been revealed that his son Sergei Waybourn has been arrested before. In 2018 he was charged with assault and in recent years he was arrested for trespassing and theft.
Sheriff Waybourn’s comments sparked controversy when he spoke against undocumented immigrants at a press conference in Washington.
Last Thursday, the sheriff spoke at the conference alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Speaking in response to a ruling by a federal California judge made last month that imposed restrictions on ICE’s use of “detainers,” Waybourn underlined the consequences of releasing illegal immigrants with DWI and other crimes.
U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr.’s decision barred ICE from using online database searches to find and detain people based. Recently, the ACLU stated that since 2008, 2 million US citizens have been illegally detained because of such searches.
Waybourn pointed to his charge of inmates to give examples of high rates of repeat offenders. “If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” Waybourn said according to New York Post. “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”
After his comments, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Waybourn’s resignation.
According to Dallas Morning News, Domingo Garcia said Waybourn ought to “resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately.”
In response, Waybourne said his comments had been taken out of contexts and his office released a statement saying that “Sheriff Waybourn was not referring to all legal or illegal immigrants when making his comments about DWI/DWI repeat offenders. He was speaking toward the charges of DWI and DWI repeat offender in the context of illegal immigration.”
In response to the news of his son’s arrest, the sheriff said he is “deeply saddened by Sergei’s choices.”
According to WFAA, he said that “It has been many years since he disassociated from our family. We, along with many family members have made efforts over the years to help him – all to no avail. It is always sad when drugs take control of a person’s life. His choices and actions have lead to this situation.”
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