The running of the immigrants

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For the last few months I’ve been captivated by Out There, LA Times writer Scott Gold’s series of weekly SoCal postcards (check out this awesome story about notes being left in the drawer of a table at Los Feliz cafe Alcove). In this episode he meets John Hood, the Navajo-born CalTrans graphic designer who created the above sign in 1990. Anyone driving the 5 between San Clemente and the Mexican border remembers them, if only for the surreal visions they conjure. As a California newbie driving down to Mexico for the first time, I couldn’t comprehend the sheer implausibility of the sign’s purpose. Did I really live somewhere people dashed across eight lanes of traffic, pigtails flailing out behind them…to freedom?

But according to Gold, so many people were killed running across the 5 during the 1980s that the attention-nabbing signs ended up saving lives. Even more insightful is a nifty interactive feature narrated by LAT photographer Don Bartletti, who has been documenting illegal immigration for decades (and shot both of these photos). Of course, because this iconic image is posted a few yards from some of the best surf breaks in the state, those of us living in Southern California might be just as likely to see this version at our local Trader Joe’s.

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Gracias, Jefe Miller.

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