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Racial Dog-Whistles Scream in L.A. Times Photo Accompanying Story About Violence at Venice Boardwalk


I see Black and Hispanic people.

Do you see Black and Hispanic people?

Photo editing, even for a failing newspaper nobody likes, is a painstaking and deliberate process. A whole lot of thought goes into each selection. So you have to ask yourself why a left-wing outlet like The Incredible Shrinking L.A. Times would use the photo above to accompany a story about an increase in violence along the boardwalk in Venice, California.

See if you can crack the code:

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to limit commercial selling on Venice Beach’s famed Ocean Front Walk.

The ordinance is the latest in a series of efforts to tame the popular but unruly attraction, which draws about 16 million visitors annually but has lately seen more than the usual number of transients and violent crimes.


But merchandise with more than “nominal utility” beyond protected speech would be prohibited. Banned items would include clothing, sunglasses, incense, perfume, lotions, candy, toys, housewares, auto parts, crystals and jewelry.

“This is a public safety issue,” said Los Angeles Police Capt. Jon F. Peters, commanding officer for the Pacific area. Since October 2010, he said, the area has experienced “a general sense of lawlessness,” with aggravated assaults up by 16%.

A cast of colorful characters, many of them longtime boardwalk denizens, testified for and against the measure in council chambers. A few speakers vowed to take the city to court, but Assistant City Atty. Valerie Flores said the ordinance incorporates definitions and standards that have held up against challenges.

To punctuate a story about an increase in violence along the Venice Beach boardwalk, L.A. Times’ readers are treated to the sight of a Mexican bandit and Black rapper in the foreground and, in the background, a menacing looking Black man in a hoodie who looks like he has murder on his mind. Behind him is another Black man.

Well, maybe the photo represents Ocean Front Walk.

Maybe it doesn’t.

Anecdotally, as someone who’s been there, I can tell you the photo is absurd. First off, Venice Beach is bright, sunny, and filled with people and families of all races and backgrounds out to enjoy the ocean, the sidewalk cafes, and, yes, the many street vendors. And the facts prove that my eyes don’t lie:

As of 2008, the population is estimated to be around 40,885. The median household income is $67,057, making it one the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. The racial and ethnic composition in Venice is White (63.9%), Latino (22.2%), African American (5.6%), Asian (3.7%), and Other (4.6%).

What conclusion are we to make other than the left-wing L.A. Times consciously or unconsciously associates violent crime with Black and Hispanics.


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