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Día de Muertos Ofrendas in Los Angeles

It has been an unusual and difficult year for many, but families still found ways to celebrate their loved ones this Día de los Muertos. All across town in Los Angeles, ofrendas can be seen in honor of those who have passed. 

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If LA County sheriff’s deputy Miguel Vega didn’t kill Andres Guardado, he might have voted in his first general primary election yesterday. But in June, the 18-year-old was shot five times in his back while he ran away from deputies.

Guardado is just one of dozens of people who have been killed by law enforcement this year and one of the many souls remembered here in Los Angeles on Día de los Muertos — the day of the dead. Guardado is buried under a lush patch of green gas and a small tree in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. This year, his family created an ofrenda for him made up of a bed of flowers, a T-shirt that reads “I am not your wings,” and a SpongeBob SquarePants doll.

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2020 has been a tough and deadly year for Angelenos. Between police violence and the pandemic, thousands of lives have been taken. This summer the LA County Sheriff’s Department fatally shot over nine people, including Guardado, and there have been over 7,000 COVID-19-related deaths in LA County, including over 3,000 Latino deaths.

While public health orders prevented people from gathering in mass, family and friends of those who have passed still found ways this week to honor their loved ones, from Boyle Heights Evergreen Cemetery to Hollywood Forever Cemetery to Virgil Village and South LA. I drove around on Election Day and the day after, documenting ofrendas and memorials on 35mm film, while reflecting on a difficult year.