Photo: Defend Boyle Heights People’s Assembly discusses gentrification and other issues.
By Bill Smith
On July 28, revolutionary organization Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) held its second People’s Assembly in a neighborhood that is on the frontlines of the fight against gentrification.
Invitations for the People’s Assembly were sent out to supporters and canvassing was done throughout the neighborhood. After passing out food and drink to all the attendees, an introduction explained DBH and the People’s Assembly in greater depth. This was followed by a long-time DBH supporter reading a poem that opened up a larger discussion surrounding the causes of gentrification, its perpetrators, and its logic.
Common justifications made by the advocates of gentrification, local politicians, developers, and art galleries were then brought into the discussion. “Cleaning up the streets from gang activity never just isolated the gangs,” the poem reader said. “It pushed out their whole families too. They don’t want to fix the community, they don’t want rehabilitation, they want to push out all the ‘dirty’ people to make room for all the ‘clean’ rich people.”
Another part of family displacement, not specific to Boyle Heights, is putting away family members on really harsh charges due to the gang injunction laws, which are a set of restraining orders issued by the city against particular gangs, or anyone the police may label as a gang member, within a specific geographic location.
“A lot of the gang members put away by the gang injunction, their whole families get [displaced] by it,” someone said during the discussion.
This kind of injunction is also a tool of national oppression. Out of the 46 gang injunctions put out by the City of Los Angeles, there has never been a gang injunction against documented white gangs.
After discussion among the attendees died down, there was a mention by the DBH member of one family just a couple blocks away who are the only family left on a block of art galleries. This family is fighting against displacement by the Borman Group LLC, who intend to build a parking lot on the land.
An update was also given to the community about the antifascist struggle in Boyle Heights and its relation to bars like the BLVD Cafe & Bar, where they’ve hosted fascist bands repeatedly. They explained the connection between gentrifiers and fascists, where gentrifying bars come into working-class communities and are willing to host open fascists because their primary concern is profit and not the interests of the working class.
The People’s Assembly gathered the most advanced elements of Boyle Heights, and by consolidating the advanced, DBH sets the stage for these assemblies to grow.