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Today’s Headlines: ‘We just want them to be safe’

A member of a volunteer patrol in Oakland
John Le looks toward a pro-Asian mural as members of Asians With Attitudes patrol Oakland’s Chinatown.
(Josh Edelson / For The Times)

Pepper spray, Instagram, buddy systems and volunteer groups: How Asian Americans are dealing with attacks.

TOP STORIES

‘We Just Want Them to Be Safe’

Asian Americans have been dealing with rising anxiety about racial attacks since the COVID-19 pandemic began — everything from ostracism to cruel comments and physical violence.

The shootings in Atlanta that left six Asian women dead has pushed these concerns even more to the forefront. Some say they are going out less — and when they do, they go with other people for protection. Others say they have smartphones ready to record incidents of hate.

Before the nation’s attention shifted to Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area had become an epicenter of violent crimes against Asian people. In response, people began to ask what they could do to help and began forming volunteer groups to offer protection and support.

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In Oakland, horrific videos of Asian American senior citizens being shoved to the ground while walking down the street inspired even those with no personal connection to Chinatown to work a shift or two with one of about 10 groups that have sprung up in recent months.

“We don’t want people to be scared. We just want them to be safe,” said one member of the group Asians With Attitudes.

Similar patrols are assisting seniors in San Francisco and San Jose.

More About Anti-Asian Racism

— Here is what is known so far about the victims in Atlanta, including the survivor, whose names authorities have made public.

— The shootings renewed calls for Congress to act against anti-Asian hate. A House Judiciary subcommittee heard from lawmakers, experts and advocates at a hearing on Thursday.

— In downtown Santa Ana, there’s a parking lot where there once stood a Chinatown. It’s not taught in local schools and isn’t even commemorated with a marker — a reminder of how this country has handled anti-Asian violence, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano.

— A history of racism against Asian people runs deep in Los Angeles. An 1871 massacre killed 10% of L.A.'s Chinese population and brought shame to the city.

A Debate at the Border and in Congress

The long-raging debate over fixing the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system flared back to life this week, with Republicans seeking political advantage from a growing number of children at the southwestern border as Democrats pressed forward with legislation that could create a path to citizenship for millions, including young “Dreamers.”

Although both sides agree that the current immigration system works poorly, efforts at reform have stalled for two decades.

On Thursday, the House approved a bill to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, voting 228 to 197, and a second measure that would significantly expand the number of seasonal farmworkers allowed to enter the U.S. and work. That bill passed 247 to 174.

A comprehensive immigration reform measure proposed by the Biden administration, which could offer legal status to some 11 million immigrants and change the overall structure of U.S. immigration practices, could come to the House floor this spring. But it faces an even more difficult path in the Senate.

More Politics

— California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra was narrowly confirmed as the Health and Human Services secretary on a party-line vote. His confirmation is the latest success for the Biden administration’s strategy of focusing on the Senate’s Democratic votes, with little attempt made at reaching Republicans.

— Legislation creating an independent, bipartisan panel to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is stalled, for now, with Democrats and Republicans split over the scope and structure of a review.

— The Biden administration has turned its foreign policy focus on Asia, holding its first overseas high-level talks with South Korea and China while struggling to confront nuclear-armed North Korea.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

Caring for Caregivers

Although hospital chaplains are primarily tasked with supporting the sick and their loved ones, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust them into new territory: caring for the caregivers.

The Rev. Peggy Kelley at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said she is devoting more time than ever in her 15 years as a chaplain to serving burned-out healthcare workers. The holiday surge in coronavirus cases — and the ensuing record-high hospitalizations and deaths — especially weakened morale, she said.

“They’re working so hard, and they’re not forgetting what we need to do to get through this. And then when they see people not complying … they get so, ‘Oh come on, you guys, we can’t step away from this reality,’” Kelley said. “It’s very disheartening.”

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— The U.S. is planning to send a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine — which has not yet been authorized for use here — to Mexico and Canada in its first export of shots. Despite initial fears in Europe, the European Union’s drug regulator said Thursday that the shot is not linked to risk of blood clots.

— In a sign that the state’s uneven COVID-19 vaccine rollout is significantly ramping up, nearly 1 million Californians have received a shot in the last two days, data show.

— As the pandemic eases, USC announced it would hold in-person commencement ceremonies this spring for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

During the Cold War, government officials feared an attack on Los Angeles. Their proposed solution? An escape route through the San Gabriel Mountains.

The route was to be named Shoemaker Canyon Road, and stretch 25 miles. But progress was slow and between 1956 and 1969, only four miles were built before the idea was abandoned completely, according to The Times. A March 1980 story referred to it as “a road to nowhere except, maybe, to memories of nuclear paranoia in America.”

A man opens a large chain link gate on a dirt road
March 19, 1980: Los Angeles County road worker Bill Netzley opens a gate barring vehicles from the final miles of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
(George Rose / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

— Try a Sichuan-inspired hot chicken sandwich or a roaming pizza pop-up. They’re among the new offerings in L.A.'s restaurant scene.

— Cooking for Passover? Here are three approaches to try from The Times’ test kitchen coordinator.

Pop-ups. Merch drops. Events. Here are the 10 hottest things happening in L.A. this month.

CALIFORNIA

— Ending years-long and often divisive debate over ethnic studies coursework in California’s K-12 schools, the State Board of Education unanimously approved a model curriculum to guide how the histories, struggles and contributions of Asian, Black, Latino and Native Americans — and the racism and marginalization they have experienced in the United States — will be taught to millions of students.

Donald Nash was known as king of the desert, overseeing the system that delivers much of Southern California’s drinking water. He was also known for exerting a tyrannical presence in the remote communities of aqueduct workers.

— The LAPD is pursuing a charge against a journalist who filmed officers using heavy-handed tactics to break up rowdy celebrations after the Dodgers won the World Series. The case has drawn scrutiny among free press advocates.

— Los Angeles police are investigating Armie Hammer after a woman reported she was sexually assaulted by the actor. He denies the allegations.

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NATION-WORLD

— In 1975, California was the first state to extend collective bargaining rights to agricultural workers. The Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to a key rule in a clash between labor and property rights.

— Gunmen apparently from a drug gang ambushed a police convoy in central Mexico, killing eight state police officers and five prosecution investigators in a hail of gunfire, authorities said.

— Top U.S. and Chinese officials offered sharply different views of each other and the world as the two sides met face to face for the first time since Biden took office.

— With former President Trump’s tax returns finally in hand, a probe into his business dealings is heating up. A team of New York prosecutors is sending out fresh subpoenas and meeting key witnesses.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Marvel’s new TV series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” sets itself up to fight a powerful villain: racism in America.

— What will the Oscars look like this year? They’ll be socially distanced but no Zooms (or jeans) will be allowed.

— Movie and TV studio Warner Bros. said it has backed away from a proposal to build an aerial tramway to improve access to the Hollywood sign.

— The life of the late actress-singer Brittany Murphy is the subject of a two-part documentary coming to HBO Max, featuring new interviews with people closest to the star.

BUSINESS

— It’s not often that Disneyland and other California theme parks close. But after months without visitors, park workers are scrambling to get them back into shape.

— The number of streaming service subscriptions passed 1 billion worldwide for the first time in 2020, highlighting massive growth in Hollywood’s direct-to-consumer business.

SPORTS

— The strange, ambitious marriage of the Ball family and Chino Hills.

— A first for Rim of the World High School: a March football practice in the snow.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

Perpetrators of racist attacks are really good at shifting the blame, columnist LZ Granderson writes. We can’t let them.

— Send in the clowns, writes The Times’ editorial board. The recall circus is returning to California for the first time since 2003’s political spectacle, and it could get messy.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Between the pandemic’s toll on his real estate empire, the damage inflicted on his brand by the insurrection he incited and the hundreds of millions in debt he’s got coming due, Trump’s empire is seriously ailing. (Bloomberg)

— A certain art style favored by Big Tech is facing a backlash. (Eye on Design)

ONLY IN L.A.

The city of Los Angeles has turned to accessory dwelling units, a.k.a. “granny flats,” as part of the solution to the housing crisis — and recently unveiled a set of preapproved ADU building plans and designs to allow for faster and less expensive permitting. But Alexis Navarro, a professor of architecture and design at East Los Angeles College, came up with a stylish and even more affordable design — and kept the cost under $100,000. Tell us about your experience with ADUs in your neighborhood, good or bad, and we may use it for a future story.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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