Photo Series: ReOpen LA, May Day 2020

California reopening starting this Friday. Photos from the anti-lockdown protest that took place May 1 in Los Angeles.

As part of a larger project called Isolated America, I want to share this hotline. 520-261-6763

We want to hear how the pandemic has affected your life, in any way. You can be anonymous, or you can let us know who you are, up to you.

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An anti-locked down protestor holds his sign reading “ALL OUR JOBS ARE ESSENTIAL”. LA City Hall
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Anti-Lockdown protestors gather on LA City Hall steps. Red X’s mark where protestors from a different cause practiced social distancing, days prior to May 1.
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Counter-protestor and anti-lockdown protestor arguing. LAPD form a police line around this section of the protest.
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Counter-protestors form a line across the street, stopping the car caravan anti-lockdown protestors.
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Anti-lockdown protestors honk their car’s horn as they drive around LA City Hall.
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Anti-lockdown protestors march down past the police line. Some take to streets with their signs and flags.
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An anti-lockdown protestor with an American flag and a Blue Lives Matter patch on his face mask. Under the bridge, protestors flood the streets as semi-trucks join the car caravan protest.
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Semi-trucks joining the car caravan anti-lockdown protest.
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Anti-lockdown protestor on the pedestrian bridge next to LA City Hall looking down at his fellow protestors.

L.A. Is a Ghost Town: Photos From Desolate Streets and Abandoned Landmarks

Shot for LA Taco

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Union Station is only allowing travelers into the station. Here is a look into the only window a non-traveler can get close to due to the added security measures and guards. 03/29 2:37PM
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On Braodway in Chinatowm, small businesses are closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. 03/29 2:54PM
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Placita Olvera, empty during the pandemic. On a Sunday afternoon, people from all over the world, as well as from LA, can be seen enjoying their time here. 03/29 2:44PM
Vendor booths, Olvera Street. 03/29 2:23PM
Vendor booths, Olvera Street. 03/29 2:23PM
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Historic Olvera Street has shut down for the most part amidst the outbreak. On any Sunday afternoon, the popular space would be packed with people. Now, only a security guard and a few homeless angelinos stay in the area. 03/29 2:22PM
Olvera Street vendor booth, closed until further notice. 03/29 2:19PM
Olvera Street vendor booth, closed until further notice. 03/29 2:19PM
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Espacio 1839, a community shop and space for a radio show, let people know they would be closing until further notice. Las Palomas, a business serving food and drinks for the community, has closed their security gates due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mariachi Plaza, Boyle Heights. 03/29 1:49PM
Mariachi Plaza, Boyle Heights. 03/29 1:49PM
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Storefronts in Boyle Heights sit closed due to the city order to close non-essential businesses. 03/29 1:48PM
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Mariachi Plaza on a Sunday afternoon would normally be busy with community members doing various things. From musicians, visitors, families, and city workers, this plaza is famous for the community coming together. It is barren on this afternoon. 03/29 1:47PM
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A retail store, like those found in Los Callejones, closed down due to the pandemic. Only the food workers can be heard talking as few people come and go from the Alameda swapmeet.
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A popular shop in the Alameda swapmeet for the Catholic community in Vernon and surrounding areas, closed down. 03/29 1:19PM
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The entrance to the interior of the Alameda Swap Meet, closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Only the restaurants can serve take out food at the swap meet. 03/29 1:13PM
110 Freeway & Wilshire Boulevard. 03/29 12:30PM
110 Freeway & Wilshire Boulevard. 03/29 12:30PM
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The popular swap mall at MacArthur Park closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. 03/29 12:05PM
Another portion of The Santee Alley, completely empty of people. 03/29 11:21AM
Another portion of The Santee Alley, completely empty of people. 03/29 11:21AM
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A closed shop in the Santee Alley. A small wind through the alley is the only sound that can be heard. 03/29 11:16AM
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The iconic Santee Alley, known for being open 365 days a year, is closed and empty except for 2 security guards. Thousands would normally walk through here on any given weekend. 03/29 11:12AM
Santee Street during would-have-been peak hour. 03/29 11:08AM
Santee Street during would-have-been peak hour. 03/29 11:08AM
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Colorful awnings hang above the closed stores in Los Callejones during what would have been a peak time for business owners and shoppers. 03/29 10:56AM
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Security gates signaling closure, an open parking meter. Sunday morning, March 29th. 10:52AM
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A portion of Los Callejones, completely void of humans on a Sunday morning. 03/29 10:47AM
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Wall Street and 4th, extremely quiet except for the convenience store clerk’s movement as he restocks his shelves. Sunday, March 29. 10:37AM
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Storefronts in Los Callejones of LA with their messages regarding closure due to the coronavirus outbreak. Only cars driving on the main street blocks away can be heard here. 03/29 10:23AM
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On Winston Street and Los Angeles Street, The T-Shirt Guys and Salud y Belleza are closed down with their COVID-19 notices taped up. Normally an extremely popular retail shopping area, the blocks of stores are completely shut down. 03/29 10:22AM
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One of Hollywood’s most iconic landmarks, TCL Chinese Theater, is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Onlookers are few and far between as Hollywood’s most famous area lays barren of visitors. Only police and homeless people can be seen on the normally-bustling boulevard. 03/28 2:58PM
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Hollywood and Highland, a destination known around the world for its view of the Hollywood sign, empty. 03/28 2:51PM
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Looking down Wilshire Boulevard on a Saturday afternoon, no cars or people can be seen out. 03/28 2:20PM
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The famed “Urban Lights” public art piece, more commonly known as the LACMA Lights, sits without any kind of visitor. 03/28 2:20PM
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Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, a go-to location for locals and tourists every day of the week, lays empty with only a few small business restaurants accepting take out orders. 03/28 1:37PM
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The ultra-popular Venice Beach Skatepark is taped off, closed due to the Safer at Home city order. Saturday, March 28. 12:33PM
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Looking north on Venice Beach, the popular hangout spot is barren due to the coronavirus outbreak. Saturday, March 28. 12:31PM
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An iconic section of the Venice Beach boardwalk, empty and on orders to close. Above, a police helicopter threatens to arrest those are on the beach. Homeless angelinos are told by Venice Beach Police to leave the beach.
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Santa Monica pier empty aside from police officers, closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. 03/28 11:47AM
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The farthest point on the pier would normally have musicians, people fishing, restaurant-goers and tourists on a Saturday morning. Only two city vehicles are there now. 03/28 11:32AM
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Santa Monica pier looking towards the city. This stretch is where the majority of people would have been in pre-pandemic times. 03/28 11:29AM
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The rear area of the closed Santa Monica pier. Only 4 police officers, a small security team, and the Pacific Park manager are on the pier now. 03/28 11:19AM
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Santa Monica Beach city workers enforce the beach closure, only a tiny fraction of the amount of people that are usually here on a Saturday morning can be seen in the far distance. Saturday, March 28. 11:14AM
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Saturday, March 28 at 11:13AM. The Santa Monica Pier and beach was ordered to close by the City of Los Angeles. Pacific Park, the amusement park on the pier, normally holds 2,500 people on busy days such as Saturday and Sunday.
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Hill Street as seen from the 110 south. On any given morning, this street is bustling with traffic, both car and pedestrian. The Safer at Home order by the city keeps most people from leaving their homes. Saturday, March 28. 10:25AM
A stretch of Saigon Plaza, Chinatown. Tuesday, March 17 10:52AM
A stretch of Saigon Plaza, Chinatown. Tuesday, March 17 10:52AM
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Lisa’s Fashion & Gift closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses in Chinatown have found it extremely difficult to stay open, since they have experienced a drastic drop in foot traffic since word of the virus originating in China hit the US. Tuesday, March 17th 10:51AM

Photo Series: JACC Convention “Reporting on the Border” Panel Archival Photographs

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An asylum seeker attempts to make it to the US/MX border in order to begin processing for asylum. Mexican federal police attempt to stop this effort by the crowd behind him. 11/25/18
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Asylum seekers cross the Tijuana river using a metal ramp. 11/25/18
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Asylum seekers swing the gate open that Mexican federal police were trying to use to detain them. Above, the walkway into the US holds onlookers and border crossers. 11/25/18
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CBP Special Response Team during the border shutdown on November 25, 2018.
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Mexican federal police form a barricade to prevent more asylum seekers from reaching the US/MX border. People arriving at the US border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized, turned back, or separated from their children, according to the United Nations. This does not prevent the Mexican state from stopping people from reaching the US border. 11/25/18
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After searching for a different way to enter the US away from the San Ysidro port of entry, asylum seekers were turned away using rubber bullets shot into Mexico by CBP. They make their way back in Tijuana as a US military helicopter flies overhead. 11/25/18
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Teargas on the Tijuana river bank. 11/25/18
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A portion of the border wall as seen from Tijuana. The art reads, “What about the Mexican dream?” 2/23/19
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Border patrol as seen through the border wall in Playas de Tijuana. 2/23/19

“No Country May Claim Us” Exhibit

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No Country May Claim Us is an exhibit that shows the experience of asylum seekers at the US/Mexico border —many of who came from Central America in the wave of caravans of the past two years— through the lenses of 14 documentary photographers and one filmmaker.

The 50 images and documentary film piece, all organized chronologically, offer a firsthand look into the recent displacement of Central American people; the militarization of the border, and immigration deterrence tactics used by the United States.

Hoping to show the effects of migratory persecution by both the US and Mexican government, the exhibit offers viewers an opportunity to empathize with those in exodus. The images tell the stories of the human condition under these circumstances. Their stories come from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, and all over the world.

The first image starts on the journey north with hundreds of asylum seekers forming a caravan and leaving Honduras in early October 2018. Our photographers follow them through their arrival to the border city of Tijuana, where on November 25 of that year, Customs and Border Patrol agents on the US side of the border shot teargas at refugees in Mexico.

Images depict refugees’ lives inside Tijuana’s migrant shelters as they wait, trapped in a migratory purgatory, unable to return to their countries of origin, and unable to enter the US as a consequence of the Migrant Protection Protocol (Remain in Mexico Program).

The images compiled in No Country May Claim Us, show us the resilience and dignity of asylum seekers whose future in the US is uncertain, and provide us a snapshot of what migration is like for people of color in the modern age.

 

On display at Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco. M-F, 9AM-5:30PM.

Tour available.

Jenn Budd: Former US Border Patrol Agent

Jenn Budd, a former senior patrol agent for the US Border Patrol, met with us earlier this month.

Jenn’s life as a border patrol agent turned around completely when she began to speak out at Campo BP Station regarding the drug smuggling operation that her boss organized. She found herself alone, at 3AM, in a hail of gunfire after being commanded to patrol the area where she had seen drugs coming in. The occurrence of this gunfire and her orders to be there lead to her being offered a higher position at sector headquarters, in exchange for her silence.

She turned her badge and weapon in the next day. “You have to sell your soul at one point to just do the job.”

Today, her life consists of speaking out against those agencies that have harmed asylum seekers/migrants/immigrants, speaking out against an administration that has created a crisis via policies, volunteering at a shelter in San Diego, writing for Souther Border Community Coalition, and an ambassadorship for Define American (a “nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.”) The full interview we have with her is a developing video piece.

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Building Community: Contra Viento Y Marea (Against All Odds)

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Ernesto winds down from the day at Contra Viento y Marea Comedor. He arrived in Tijuana on November 21st, 2018 with the migrant caravan that left Honduras on October 21st. He had always wanted to excel in his education, but the current state of his country did not have that opportunity for him. In his words, “Falta de oportunidades de estudio, porque soy un joven que busca oportunidades de superarme.” At first, he was seeking asylum in the United States; as time went on and more people were being denied and deported back to Central America, he decided to not pursue further for fear of returning to his homeland.
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Contra Viento y Marea, a community space in Tijuana, emerged from a series of repressive government acts against the migrant/asylum seeking community. The full story can be read on their website “contravientomareatj.com”. Today, it serves as a community diner, shelter, and community center. There is a garden on the roof, alongside a few tents where volunteers, migrants and collective-members reside.
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Tents pitched on the roof. The growing number of asylum seekers, migrants, and volunteers has turned the roof space into an area for residency as well as gardening.
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The start of a garden on the roof of Contra Viento y Marea. Volunteers from Jardin Lemniscata and the Contra Viento y Marea collective have started this gardening effort with the goal of “integrating the individual with the ecosystem to foment sustainable practices that prevent the unconscious, unmeasured growth of urbanization.”
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A hallway Inside Contra Viento y Marea. Artwork by @ashlukadraws on Instagram.
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A volunteer at Contra Viento Y Marea sweeps the floor after dinner is served at the communal kitchen/shelter space.
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Flowers grow among the concertina wire next to the border wall at Friendship Park.
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On the beaches at Playas De Tijuana, the border wall sits, corroded. “No obstacle can stop us from reaching our dreams. We are Mexicans. We are unstoppable.”
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A tattered art piece, that used to be an American flag, stays tied to the border wall. Reinforcement that was installed on the US side in March, can be seen behind the bottom half of the flag.

Police Oversight: Update On SB 1421 Progress

On January 1st, 2019, SB 1421 went into effect. On paper, it was supposed to “lift the veil of secrecy” on police misconduct records that included sexual assault, lying during an investigation, falsification of reports, shootings, use of force, in-custody deaths, and other forms of misconduct. These kinds of records have already been public for years in many other states.

 
In application, this was met with pushback from police & sheriff unions across California. They tried to argue that the law should only be applicable to records made after the law went into effect, they tried to argue that police officers have “special vested secrecy rights in California that could never be taken away”, there were other arguments but judges struck them down.

 
Santa Ana Police Department tried to destroy the records, but a petition we organized and received support from the ACLU, media organizations, and community members sent a clear message to the department.

 
On April 23rd, the 90th day of the Santa Ana Police Department’s 90-day extension (used to process the record request), they let me know that they needed 120 more days.
Today, we became the first ones to review records that have undergone the required redaction process.

This post is about the small victories.

Here’s a selfie I took in Tijuana the day US CBP agents shot tear gas at everyone in proximity.

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