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Morning Brief: Sheriff's Deputy On Desk Duty, Raises For Health Care Workers, Memories Of Olvera Street Fig Tree

Deputy Daniel Acquilano, left, with then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell, right, in 2017.
(LASD Military and Veteran Affairs Unit Facebook Page)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Thursday, June 23.

Whew. What weather yesterday! I just washed my car for the first time in years on Sunday only for it to be completely dirty once again after brief but powerful rain and thunderstorms early Wednesday morning. They're not unheard of this time of year but, as my colleague Kyle Stokes reports, they're not typical.

Okay, now on to something really serious.

In my past life in the education world, I became very aware of the school-to-prison pipeline - a pattern of pushing students out of K-12 public schools and into the criminal justice system, often over small infractions. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, many of the students affected by harsh school discipline guidelines, also known as “zero-tolerance” policies, are Black or Brown, have disabilities, or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional support and resources.

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And as a former full-time education reporter (and as a teacher who has seen it all), this topic is something I will always be very passionate about.

Today, my colleague Emily Elena Dugdale has a must-read story about a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who body slammed a 16-year-old Black student last year at Lancaster High School in the Antelope Valley.

Deputy Daniel Acquilano has been put on desk duty and was also the subject of a harassment allegation from his ex-wife, according to internal documents and department officials.

Last August, he body slammed 16-year-old MiKayla Robinson to the ground and straddled her after she refused to give her phone to him. The incident was caught on video, and sparked protests by community members demanding to get the deputy off campus.

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Last year, Emily and ProPublica co-published a story about how Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies are disproportionately citing Black teens in Lancasterhigh schools for minor infractions like fighting, smoking cigarettes and disrupting class. According to their analysis, “Black teenagers made up 60% of the deputy contacts at schools but made up only 20 percent of the enrollment in those schools.”

As always, try to stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wants LAUSD to be the "district ofchoice" in four years. Here's how he plans to do it
  • A new report found the Santa Monica Pier is among the 10 worst beaches on the West Coast for bacterial pollution. There’s also some (surprising) good news: Venice Beach is on the clear water list.
  • Good news for a group of people who have been hit hardest pandemic: the L.A. City Council voted Tuesday to raise the minimum wage for health care workers in certain facilities to $25 an hour.
  • A new survey from NPR found that 71% of Californians think heat waves caused by climate change are affecting their health. The state’s extreme heat action plan, which was announced earlier this year, aims to address that.
  • If you’ve always wanted to be a plant parent but haven’t had much luck caring for one before, we’ve got just the list for you. Here are 11 houseplants that thrive on neglect.

    Before You Go...Visit this Immersive Art Experience Featuring a Once Collapsed Famous Tree

People sit in a dimly illuminated space, on wood benches, looking up at a faux tree. It's made from a real tree's trunk, with digital colored screens in square pixelated shapes creating a faux canopy. The panels at the time of this image are illuminated in light blue and purple.
This tree came from Olvera Street to this downtown Los Angeles warehouse, artist Glenn Kaino giving it a new life.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
For LAist)
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Okay, y’all. I have a special treat for you today! Inside a dimly lit warehouse in downtown Los Angeles is an immersive, futuristic exhibit with a deep environmental message. It’s called A Forest For The Trees from conceptual artist Glenn Kaino. I don’t want to give too many details away, but my colleague Mike Roe did such a great job describing it, I’ve now bought tickets to go. I mean, the central part of the exhibit is a resurrected fig tree that once stood for more than a century downtown.

The quote in the article that sold me? Here it is:

“Kaino told attendees that he was inspired by mentalist Max Maven and a trick Maven would perform, taking a card that’s been ripped into pieces and once again making it whole.

Kaino didn’t understand what the illusion was about at first, but he said that Maven explained, “That piece is about resurrection. That means it’s about hope. It’s about the stubborn belief that even if you see something destroyed in front of your eyes, there’s a chance for us to restore it.”

This Moreton Bay fig tree used to stand at the end of Olvera Street at the historic L.A. birthplace El Pueblo de Los Angeles. But as Mike reports in his piece, it collapsed in 2019 after standing strong for 144 years all because of dry rot and a storm. 144 years! Now it's been brought back to life by Kaino and friends.

This tree has so much history in this city. It probably played a significant role in some of our readers' lives. Has it played an important part in yours? Do you have a story to tell? We would love to hear it. Submit your story here.

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