By Ulrike Salazar
On Wednesday, the commemoration of the Chicano Moratorium in Boyle Heights was met with contention from anti-gentrification organizations when groups and individuals crossed the picket line against pro-gentrification nonprofit Self-Help Graphics & Art (SHG).
The well-known militant Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) anti-gentrification coalition issued the boycott against SHG as well as all new gentrifying art galleries back in December 2016. Soon thereafter, DBH would amend the boycott list to include all gentrifying businesses and new breweries in what art investors and developers have dubbed the “Boyle Heights arts district.”
SHG’s board of directors has always included real estate lawyers and agents who also sit on several other nonprofit boards in Boyle Heights. These agents represent big landlords and developers buying property in the very same community.
It would appear that the Boyle Heights-based community service organization Centro CSO did not think to give those affiliations a second thought.
Centro CSO organized the “48th [annual] Chicano Moratorium Commemoration” with participation and support from Freedom Road Socialist Organization (known as FRSO-FB for distributing the Fight Back! newspaper), former editor of La Raza Chicano newspaper Raul Ruiz, former Brown Beret minister of finance and correspondence and Las Adelitas de Aztlán founder Gloria Arellanes, the Filipino National Democratic solidarity organization Bayan USA, and many more.
Since the event was announced, Incendiary News received a tip that Bayan USA has pulled out. According to our sources, Bayan USA said they are in full support of the boycott, which they were unaware of, and the struggling masses of Boyle Heights.
Boyle Heights-based Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist, organization Red Guards – Los Angeles issued an open letter addressing all participants of the event, encouraging them to honor the boycott and cancel their appearance. In particular, FRSO-FB and Centro CSO were targeted as two organizations that are beyond rectification.
“But FRSO-FB is far more vicious because they organize in Boyle Heights and are direct supporters of Centro CSO,” the open letter states. “There is no room for doubt that FRSO-FB, like Centro CSO, crossed the picket line knowingly. They merit a merciless response.”
It has been well-documented by DBH that Alfred Fraijo, Jr. in particular, is one of the most egregious real estate lawyers currently on the board. Fraijo works closely with millionaire gentrifier-capitalist Vera Campbell and has helped her purchase multiple commercial properties on Mission Road in the “arts district.”
Fraijo also sits on the board of directors of the East Los Angeles Community Corporation and the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network, both of which have been complicit in the gentrification of Boyle Heights.
Fraijo has also aided property management company Cova Partners, LLC in evicting working-class tenant Arturo Precindo.
“He is cashing in on Boyle Height’s rising property value principally due to gentrification – of which he perpetuates. It’s a sick cycle of cash and greed,” DBH states in the “Meet Mr. Eviction: Alfred Fraijo, Jr!” website post.
RGLA’s open letter ends with a warning to all belligerent “left” organizations who fail to observe the boycott to stay out of Boyle Heights. Time will tell if they will heed the warning or dare to cross the most militant anti-gentrification organization in the country.