Erika D. Smith, writing for the Los Angeles Times on racism in rural California.
There are huge problems in California’s high desert, ones that rival those in parts of the Midwest and Deep South.
It was only five years ago, for example, that Los Angeles County settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that deputies systematically harassed and discriminated against Black people and Latinos in Palmdale, including with military-style sweeps of federally subsidized Section 8 housing.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to traffic stops, racial profiling is also a thing, which — and I’m just spitballing here — might be one reason so few Black men and women want to become deputies and patrol the high desert. Villanueva was complaining about this very thing on Monday, when a Palmdale resident called into the community conversation to press him about the lack of diversity on his force.
It’s an awful cycle of systemic racism that has led to where we are today.
Either the departments, if the sheriffs are to be believed, have deputies who are so ignorant that they can’t see why a Black man hanging from a tree would be evidence enough to start a homicide investigation.
Or, if we are to believe residents, we have deputies who believe Black lives are expendable. And since no one will notice when they are gone, why spend money and energy investigating a possible murder that will only rile up Black people and possibly shine a light on longstanding racist practices?