Things That Matter

Officials Are Investigating Accusations That The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Engaged In Racial Profiling

An investigation has been launched into whether Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies engaged in racial profiling against thousands of Latino drivers while on the 5 Freeway. According to a report by the LA Times, 69 percent of drivers who were stopped between 2012 and 2017 as part of a police operation were of Latino descent. County Supervisor Hilda Solis requested the inspector general and Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission begin a investigative review of the sheriff’s Domestic Highway Enforcement team.

Two-thirds of cars searched by the LA County sheriff’s Domestic Highway Enforcement Team were of Latinos, a rate far higher than other racial groups.

The report shows that sheriff’s deputies searched the cars of more than 3,500 drivers. A majority of the driver were Latino and didn’t have any illegal items. Deputies conducted searches of Latinos’ vehicles during two-thirds of the stops, while other drivers had their cars searched less than half of the time The statistics are alarming and have caught the attention of various watchdog groups who are calling for an investigation into the report.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department denies that officers were engaged in racial profiling and praised the amount of drugs seized by officers during their operations. According to the report, officers confiscated “more than a ton of methamphetamine, 2 tons of marijuana, 600 pounds of cocaine, millions of dollars in suspected drug money.”

“We do not racially profile. We make stops based on behaviors and vehicle code violations, not ethnicity,” Assistant Sheriff Eddie Rivero said in a statement released after the LA Times article was published.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis says the report is “concerning.

“It’s deeply concerning that racial profiling could have been used on Latino drivers,” Solis said in a statement to the Associated Press. Solis says she wants the inspector general and a civilian oversight commission to investigate the enforcement team, which is made up of four white male deputies.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he would work with investigators to fix any concerns.

“As someone who has dedicated my career to protecting the civil rights of all people, I am personally concerned about any allegation of racial and ethnic profiling and take very seriously questions about race and police procedures,” McDonnell told the AP.

The traffic stops were conducted along a 40-mile stretch of Interstate-5 that officials say was a major pipeline for cartels to move narcotics.

CREDIT: Credit: LA Times

The enforcement team, which was stationed on Interstate 5, was formed in response to a spike in drug overdoses in the Santa Clarita area. The area of the highway where officers were stationed spans roughly 40 miles of freeway from just south of Santa Clarita to the border of Kern County. Deputies say that section of Interstate 5 is a huge source for cartels to move drugs along the West Coast and return to Mexico.

The investigative reports’ findings come as no surprise to many that know the racial history of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has had a history of problems, from issues around racial profiling to brutality in local jails. That’s why it came as no surprise to Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney and director of police practices at the ACLU of Southern California. Bibring told L.A. Taco that the department’s problems with racial profiling are well-documented and sees this is an abuse in power.

“The department has a long history of these problems,” Bibring said. “I think one of the concerns of a program like this that seems to involve behavior by deputies that had been flagged by courts and still continues raises concerns that the department has a culture that tolerates this behavior.”


READ: A New Study Finds Latinos Believe In The American Dream But That It Has Become Too Hard To Achieve

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Fierce

How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Growing up, Andi Xoch’s aunt encouraged her to speak to plants. Her relatives usually laughed at the sight of a woman talking to her in-house flowers, but Xoch was intrigued. As a little girl, she acknowledged that there was life inside the pots, so conversing with them seemed standard. More than two decades later, that seed of curiosity about flora bloomed into Latinx with Plants, a digital community and IRL Los Angeles-based shop that teaches Latinxs of their ancestral relationship with herbage.

Sprouted in the spring of 2019, Latinx with Plants started as an account on Instagram. Through the page, Xoch wanted to provide representation of Latinx plant parents that she felt was lacking despite the community’s deep and vast connection with herbs and gardening.

“We’ve had a long connection with plants even before the trend started,” Xoch, a Mexico City-born, L.A.-raised organizer and artist, tells FIERCE.

“I wanted to represent that, to show that we’ve been part of this world even if it’s not presented in an Instagrammable form.”

For the past few years, so-called plant porn has dominated Instagram content. With hashtags like #plantgang and #urbanjungles, the growing trend has helped produce a new generation of young people with green fingers that are boosting sales of houseplants and inspiring even the basement recluse to be a plant parent. In fact, a National Gardening report found that 83 percent of the people in the U.S. who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more, it reported that 37 percent of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, more than the 28 percent of baby boomers who do the same.

However, with the exception of a few accounts, including Xoch’s friend D’Real who created @blackwithplants and inspired her to make a similar account, many of these digital spaces are overwhelmingly white. This, Xoch says, ignores the history Latinxs have with plants and the sustainable practices they developed while gardening for decades.

“You walk onto our people’s front yards and you see their food: plantains, avocados [and] chayotes. And it’s all sustainable; they use pots made out of buckets and cans. It’s beautiful,” the 32-year-old says. “This is who we are. This is our culture.”

As Latinxs, Xoch says that our Indigenous roots have been forgotten or intentionally kept from us but that we can reconnect to our origins through inherited practices. Among them is ancestral medicines. At her shop, several elders come in and casually inform Xoch about the healing properties of her different plants. While the whitewashed mainstream plant blogosphere has co-opted much of the everyday traditions practiced within low-income communities of color, she finds comfort in knowing that these remedies are being passed down across generations through word of mouth and are not being commodified. 

These informal educational encounters is one of the reasons why Xoch established her brick and mortar in August. Aside from selling an array of plants at the Boyle Heights-located shop, she wanted to create a space where new plant parents and señora gardeners can enter and feel welcomed, experience the joyous power of verdure and learn from one another. 

She says that her mission is to build community and help people who feel depressed, anxious and alone, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experience the healing power of plants.

“Plants can be an asset to you because, whether you think it’s just for the plant’s sake to be alive, you are actually participating in a self-care act by nurturing your plant,” Xoch says. “They force you to get up every day and help you realize a lot of beautiful things about yourself that you forget to acknowledge: the caregiving, the attention, the love, the dancing, the singing — all the things that make it bloom are also exercises in self-love, self-care and self-preservation.” 

A newbie business owner, Xoch says she now has another objective, though: to offer a non-traditional example of success and to be honest about the struggles of entrepreneurship. 

On paper, Xoch’s road to becoming a boss seems swift and simple: She learned the location of a potential property on a Sunday, visited it on Monday, signed her lease on Wednesday and opened up shop the following weekend. However, the reality is much more complicated. A high school dropout, her lifelong dream to open a business was halted because she lacked the confidence, capital and connections to get started. Even when she did launch the store, the experience was far from easy. Xoch opened her small business from the ground up on a tight budget amid a pandemic and while her father sat ill at a hospital where doctors thought he would die.

“I want people to know this is real shit that people go through. We have the load of the world on us, we are caring for our relatives and we are trying to make sure our business is doing well,” she says. “I walk in [my store] and that alone is defying the odds.”


Follow Latinx with Plants on Instagram. For those in Los Angeles, visit the shop, which is complying with Covid-19 regulations and operating by appointment only, at 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave.

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Sheriff Joe Has Lost His Race To Get Back His Old Job But How Was He Able To Run At All?

Things That Matter

Sheriff Joe Has Lost His Race To Get Back His Old Job But How Was He Able To Run At All?

Ross D Franklin / Getty Images

America’s ‘toughest sheriff’ and blatantly racist law enforcement officials has been defeated in race for sheriff. But what’s shocking is just how close the race was for a man who was arrested and convicted of racially profiling Latinos only to then be pardoned by Trump.

And it appeared that Arpaio had zero remorse for his controversial and damaging policies. In the run up to the election, he vowed to continue his controversial policing tactics with policies that included housing county jail inmates in tents and regular immigration sweeps. 

Running to get back his old job, Joe Arpaio has lost his primary bid for Maricopa County Sheriff.

America’s self-confessed “toughest sheriff”, Joe Arpaio, was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, blatant racism, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction.

In the latest count from Tuesday’s primary, announced on Friday, Arpaio lost the primary to his long time aide, Jerry Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan had secured about 37 percent of the vote in a three-way race, compared to Mr. Arpaio’s 36 percent — a difference of 6,280 votes out of more than 420,000 cast, with only 2,385 ballots remaining to be counted.

For Mr. Arpaio, 88, the loss on Tuesday was his third electoral defeat in four years. After losing his 2016 re-election bid, he suffered a resounding loss in a three-way Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

Mr. Arpaio said in an interview on Friday that this year’s race was his last run for public office, adding that his age and record as sheriff were working against him.

“They were tired of me and tired of my office,” he said.

So who is the Republican who won the primary?

Voters instead backed Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio’s former chief deputy, who promised to revive many of the sheriff’s racist and anti-immigrant policies but without the showmanship.

Mr. Sheridan was found guilty of civil contempt of court and a judge referred him for criminal contempt charges, though prosecutors later said the statute of limitations prevented them from bringing charges. A related complaint with the state board that certifies police officers languished until Mr. Sheridan’s certification expired this year.

In November’s general election, Sheridan will face current Sheriff Paul Penzone, the Democrat who beat Arpaio four years ago. And most political observers say Penzone is the favorite in the general election.

His campaign put out a statement after Arpaio’s defeat.

“With the primary race for Maricopa County Sheriff officially concluding tonight, Arizona Democrats reaffirm our commitment to protecting the Latino community from the likes of Joe Arpaio’s former number two, Jerry Sheridan, who was found in contempt of court and will double down on Arpaio’s disturbing legacy that embarrassed our state and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. 

“Arizona’s largest county is better off under the leadership of Sheriff Penzone, a leader with a legacy of accountability, committed to building community trust,” he added. “We know voters will stick with him this November.”

Arpaio had long harassed Latinos and made life a living hell in Arizona for migrant communities.

Credit: Ross D Franklin / Getty Images

Arpaio rose to national prominence thanks to his blatantly racist, anti-immigrant, and illegal policies as ‘America’s toughest sheriff.’ During his tenure, he housed inmates in tents, forced them to wear pink underwear and brought back chain gangs. His department conducted sweeps of undocumented immigrants in Hispanic communities and detained Spanish-speakers under suspicion of being in the country irregularly. 

Then in 2011, Arpaio was convicted of deliberately violating an injunction halting his practice of detaining migrants who are not suspected of having committed a state crime. Only federal officers have jurisdiction over immigration. He faced six months in jail but was benefited by President Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon.

This year’s primary by Arpaio exploited racial tensions and pushed a tough-on-crime message amid a nationwide movement to stop police abuses against people of color. His rebuke from Republican voters could be an ominous sign for the president, who is trailing Biden in the polls in Arizona.

Arpaio is a close ally of Trump’s and was one of his first supporters in 2015, and his fall from grace mirrors the struggle that the president faces among suburban Republican voters in Arizona, a traditionally conservative state that is seen as up for grabs in this year’s presidential election.

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