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Morning Brief: How Black Teens Are Policed, Jaime Jarrín’s Legacy, And DC Comics’ New Aquaman

A child wearing sneakers, jeans and a red shirt sits on a concrete ledge at the edge of a grassy terrace, holding a red and white sign that reads "No more cops in AV schools." One hand is touching a surgical mask that covers his mouth and nose. A woman wearing a red shirt and jeans shorts and also wearing a mask sits next to him.
Cancel the Contract protest in Lancaster, CA to get police officers out of local high schools.
(Bethany Mollenkof
/
For ProPublica)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Sept. 29.

Last year, my colleague Emily Elena Dugdale covered two disturbing deaths in the Antelope Valley, where two Black men were found hanged just weeks apart. 

The deaths were ruled suicides, but many of us here in the newsroom — myself included — wondered if there was more to the story. It was chilling to think about, and heartbreaking for the families involved.

Since then, Emily has continued her reporting in the Antelope Valley in collaboration with another nonprofit newsroom, ProPublica, and today, her story appears on our site. Emily examines allegations of racial discrimination by L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies assigned as “school resource officers” at public schools.

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Using the department’s own data from 2019, she found that while Black students made up only about 20% of enrollment at high schools in Lancaster, a city in the Antelope Valley, Black teenagers accounted for nearly 60% of stops by sheriff’s deputies, most of them based on a “reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.”

The numbers were particularly stark at Antelope Valley High School, where Black students made up about 33% of the population, but represented more than 75% of stops. 

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Sheriff’s deputy Justin Ruppert, team leader of the Lancaster station’s school safety unit, said the vast majority of deputies’ contacts on campuses are based on referrals from school staff and administrators — not initiated by law enforcement.

Just a few weeks ago, another incident seemed to underscore the problem: Cell phone video captured a school resource deputy body-slamming 16-year-old MiKayla Robinson, who is Black, at Lancaster High School. Her family and community groups are pushing for the school district to sever its campus security contract with the L.A. Sheriff's Department.

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“Parents trust the schools to be a safe place for their children,” Emily told me. “They do not drop their children off and expect them to be handcuffed. I feel very privileged to be able to share the stories of these courageous Antelope Valley residents, and showcase public data that is available to all of us looking for more information on law enforcement in our school districts.”

You can read her investigation here.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

Clarification: In yesterday's newsletter, we wrote that Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored a motion to review LAHSA's financial operations. He did that in 2020, when he was still on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Jaime Jarrín, the beloved Dodgers broadcaster, will retire at the end of the 2022 season. Here’s the story of his life and career. 
  • The city of L.A. wants its entire electricity grid to run on renewable energy by 2035, so it's setting aside $30 million to install solar power in municipal buildings.
  • Union representatives for L.A. County’s 102,000 employees say the Friday deadline for their members to be fully vaccinated is “unreasonable” and a “scare tactic.”
  • California workers and public health experts called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to extend COVID-19 sick leave benefits.
  • The state's eviction moratorium ends tomorrow, and some eviction notices could start going out right away. 
  • Can't maintain your own compost pile? Consider community composting. 
  • West Coast wildfires pose a health threat to the entire country. 
  • A number of L.A. eateries, including Hayato, Mélisse, Phenakite, Pasjoli, Knife Pleat and Pasta|Bar, earned Michelin stars.

Before You Go ... Meet DC Comics' Black, Gay Aquaman

Jackson Hyde floats in the sea, hand through his dreadlocks and wearing a dark orange uniform. The logo reads AQUAMAN: THE BECOMING with DC, 1 of 6, PRIDE on the left side with pride rainbow colors in the background. The names of the creative team are below.
Jackson Hyde on the cover to Aquaman: The Becoming #1
(Courtesy DC Comics)
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DC Comics superhero Aquaman has been subject to generations of easy jokes — he’s the superhero that (allegedly) talks to fish. But he’s getting a new look for the 2020s: Aquaman: The Becoming features Jackson Hyde, a young Black gay superhero currently known as Aqualad.

Part of DC Comics' efforts to diversify their publishing line, this new Aquaman joins a new generation of diverse heroes, from a Black Batman to a queer Superman. Cheers to change.

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