By Matt Handocerdos
Militants and supporters led by anti-gentrification coalition Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) disrupted a Metro and city-planned community meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall yesterday morning.
The meeting was on the “LA River Path Project,” a plan for continuing the development of an 8-mile bike path alongside the Los Angeles River stretching from the City of Vernon, through downtown Los Angeles and Boyle Heights into Elysian Valley.
The protesters, which included artists, community members and red-masked Communist militants, stormed the meeting, proclaiming it and its entire pro-gentrification agenda null and void. Protesters chanted, “El barrio no se vende, se ama y se defiende!” (in English: “The hood is not for sale, it is defended and it is loved!”)
As they took over the meeting, a protestor grabbed the microphone from a table. A Metro staffperson made an attempt to physically confront the protestor and wrestle the microphone away, but the militants stopped him. The Metro staffperson cut power to the microphone and immediately called the police, but the protestors were unfazed and finished speaking with their own megaphone.
They denounced the meeting as being a sham because of the recent FBI investigation into the capitalist collusion of the Los Angeles City Council.
Several news reports have exposed the corrupt city council members, the real estate developers and the poverty-pimp nonprofits that trick and poison the working class throughout Los Angeles, especially Chicanos, immigrants, and Black people.
In the speech, protesters called for a halt to all big development backed by the city council. Protesters cited the irreparable damage done to working-class communities by the gentrifying forces of Metro, the city, and their collaborationist nonprofits who push these development projects onto the working class.
“It is 2019 in Boyle Heights and everybody in this room understands that gentrification happens through corrupt political acts without any community oversight. Due to the criminal nature of our barrio’s civic representation, this meeting, all conclusions reached within it, as well as any decision made by our civic governing structure are hereby null and void.”
The protesters called on the community meeting attendees to get up from their seats, abandon the sham meeting and walk out with them. Several did.
Outside the back steps of the Boyle Heights City Hall protesters, surrounded by Hollenbeck Division police, spoke more in depth about the capitalist collusion and political corruption of the entire city council. Every time the name of the city council member overseeing Boyle Heights, Jose Huizar, was mentioned, the crowd booed loudly.
DBH called on the people to fight back against the three main enemies of the working class of Los Angeles: Metro, the entire capitalist city council, the private gentrifying-developers, including Chinese imperialist capital, and in particular city council member Jose Huizar.
“Metro, like city council, pretends to care about our community,” a masked speaker said, “But they develop, develop, develop, recklessly, arrogantly, turning Chicano and immigrant working-class communities like Boyle Heights into playgrounds for the rich!”
“The people of Boyle Heights will not negotiate with city capitalists or their big developer friends!” the speaker continued. “We won’t negotiate our oppression and displacement. That would be surrender. Instead, we’re fighting back. We must escalate the battle against gentrification!”
Metro argues for more bike lanes throughout the city and county as part of its general mission of redeveloping Los Angeles in service to private developers and the capitalist city government, regardless of its effects on the adjacent working class.
Metro, as the masses of Los Angeles are well aware, has brought nothing but disaster and displacement everywhere it lays down its train tracks. It has been well-documented by DBH and others how Metro and its “transportation-orientated development” (or simply referred to as TOD) has led to the gentrification of many working-class communities in Los Angeles.
The city council unanimously approved Metro’s LA River Path Project, at the behest of Mayor Erick Garcetti, who happens to be the 2nd Vice Chair of Metro’s Board of Directors. In fact, many city council members sit, or have sat, on Metro’s Board of Directors. The conflict of interest is obvious.
As rents go up due to rising property values, more and more of the working class are forced out. East of the Los Angeles River in particular has always been an intense arena of revolutionary Chicano and immigrant struggles. But back in November 2009, Metro opened up the light-rail extension from downtown’s Union Station into Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, initiating the gentrification offensive over the masses of the east side.
Even with supposedly stronger pro-renter laws, thousands of working-class and oppressed tenants have been evicted or priced-out from their homes. In 2016, 3,255 people were evicted in the city, according to the Princeton University research group Eviction Lab, fifty percent of which were categorized as Hispanic. We can safely assume Chicanos, Mexicans and other Spanish-speaking immigrants from the oppressed nations of Latin America make up the majority of that 50 percent.