Procesion de Testimonios: Evicting Displacement

By Leguim Samor, Highland Park resident and Member of North East Los Angeles Alliance

I would first like to start off by thanking my Ancestors and the Tongva people, the people of this land which I currently occupy.

The intention of this public art performance for me was to share the power within our voices and movement to perform a narrative and raise awareness to the rampant displacement of working class communities of color.

 picture 1
Photo Credit: Lis Barrajas 

One of our goals was to create a public performance ( Evicting Displacement) to provoke dialogue on the rapid displacement happening in the community. We did so by placing evictions on businesses as a symbolic gesture depicting a glimpse of what is a reality for many working class families. In addition, the performance would also consist of creating a safe space for community testimonies performed through song or spoken word from various residents of North East LA. The testimony would also be accompanied by music with different instruments playing together.

Photo Credit: John Urquiza

picture 3
Photo Credit: Lis Barrajas

      Photo Credit: John Urquiza

I realize some business might of felt offended by this performance. However, we did intend to be controversial in our presentation, so long as we brought attention to the rampant evictions, displacement of people and the displacement of culture in our communities. We did not realistically evict these businesses( obviously), but we did want to have them question their privilege, and how they contribute to the displacement. This is something many will never understand, where developers and businesses come in unannounced and the working class people feel all the repercussions.


An apartment complex undergoing renovations, but where did all the residents go?

Our Second goal was to engage community and provide information about a tenant rights workshop. Meanwhile creating a safe space where people could and would share their personal experiences of “el desalojo” (displacement). We did so by inviting the community members into (Pachanga Hahamongna) a walking celebration that invites community members to participate and share their own testimonios, to feel empowered and to know they are not alone. We would sing and play music to gain community attention and give us an opportunity engage in dialogue. We went to different locations such as Laundromats, apartment complexes, and anywhere where we saw people gather, and were able to provide information regarding tenant rights and hear out many of the community bring up their personal testimonies and concerns with displacement.

Photo Credit : Elefante Collective

Photo Credit: Yajaira Villareal

We called this portion of our performance Pachanga Hahamongna as a homage to the communities that have been physically displaced from this landscape. Hahahmongna which is the Tongva word and original name of the Arroyo Seco River. The other word Pachanga a spanish word for a party or celebration and is often used by the Latino culture.

Photo Credit: Yajaira Villareal

We are open to have conversations with any of the business owners or community members. I acknowledge that all these business owners are also part of the community and as long as they are here we must be a cohesive community that supports each other. Specifically in coming together and finding a way to mitigate or put an end to the historic practice of displacing people and their culture.

In Community,

Leguim Samor

About the Northeast Alliance: 

The Northeast Alliance is a group of local Northeast Los Angeles Residents committed to witnessing and documenting the changing socio-economic landscape of NELA. The group is committed to understanding the full effect of gentrification on immigrant, working class and poor communities and addressing these effects through education, organizing, visual and performing arts and ongoing scholarship. Recognizing that many of the narratives defining gentrification are not coined by the immigrant, working class and poor communities it profoundly affects, Northeast Alliance is non-complacent in challenging those prevailing narratives by presenting and recording voices of those who are not heard.



7 thoughts on “Procesion de Testimonios: Evicting Displacement

  1. Tenants’ and workers’ rights are very important issues that should not be misused to disguise bigotry toward other cultures. Why did you only target small businesses who hire local people instead of McDonald’s and Walgreens? Are you really anti-capitalist or just racist? You are lumping all white business together. Some are bad, some are good. Some hispanic businesses are good, some are bad. Some hispanic landlords are good, some are bad. Do your research.

    Small businesses are the dreams of hardworking people. Do you know how hard it is to open a clothing shop or restaurant? These aren’t “Wall Street fat cats”, these are independent stores on York and Fig. If, say, you found out that workers were not getting a fair wage or were being discriminated against at Donut Friend or Greyhound, that would be something to protest.

    Do you know why the massage parlor where Donut Friend is now located closed? Were they evicted or did they move or go out of business? If you could blog about cases where tenants were evicted unfairly or workers were treated unfairly many people would rally around you and you could help struggling tenants and businesses. Don’t lose sight of what is really important. Aren’t workers’ and tentants’ rights more important than whether a store sells donut holes or pane dulce?


  2. @ Parkeet.
    Clearly you don’t see the intention of the performance. Again, The point was to be thought provoking to the gentrified business owners and the people they cater to. We aimed to raise awareness and provide the current context of people and culture being displaced. This is just a starting point to address a larger issue and hope to have this continuous dialogue with these businesses and community members regarding displacement . People have to be aware of the different roles they play in the displacement process and how marginalized communities need to resist displacement. i appreciate you reading the piece and voicing out your perspective.


  3. As a third generation mexican american from NELA I’m sickened by these so called protests. The way for my people to improve is to get an education and work hard. As a minority , we have to work harder than most people. You are setting us back with your ignorance.


  4. We really need to start fundraising and organizing to create one or several community land trusts in NELA to remove property from the speculative real estate market and to lock in low priced rents for businesses and housing. The LA Eco Village is a great example of a limited equity trust run by a co-op that allows residents the freedom to live their lives without paying excessive fees to landlords and banks. One big hurdle is financial, another is educating future tenants and trust members.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. @ Juan,

    I agree we all must be educated and work hard. However, not everyone has access to education and as for working hard I’m sure all these people facing rent increases and evictions work hard. Juan being a long time resident of NELA, I would recommend to become more involved in your community and maybe then you can see what is happening. Also as a 3rd generation Mexican American do you think you have the same opportunities? Do you think you have privilege over those people who have just migrated to this country, nor are aware of resources?

    @ ubrayj02

    Community land trusts is something we have been discussing and getting educated on, it would be nice to have support in this process since the NELA Alliance is a volunteer based, grassroots group. The more support and solidarity the more progress we can make in this exploitative real estate market.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I realize some business might of felt offended by” should be “I realize some businesses might have felt offended by”.

    If you want to be taken seriously, proof-read your work.

    What is the point of culturally appropriating the Tongva?

    I’ve lived in Northeast Los Angeles my entire life, I’m Latino and my parents immigrated here from Mexico. I have dozens of relatives who live in NELA, as well, and not one has been displaced/evicted. I make it a point to frequently shop at all the small businesses you targeted. I feel no solidarity with your movement and instead feel offended and ashamed that you are using the Chicano identity to bully others. Public tantrums are embarrassing. Rethink the mission of your cause and stop stereotyping.


  7. My family moved from Chavez Ravine (displaced by Dodger Stadium), to Lincoln Heights, to Highland Park. Though my family is Mexican and has deep roots in the area I routinely get identified as a gentrifying “hipster” because I am young and have light skin. When I saw your signs and protest on twitter I had second thoughts about attending the art walk. I didn’t feel welcomed as I was worried I would be accused of being part of the problem and have negative attention drawn to me. It would not be the first time, I have been condescendingly referred to as hipster and newcomer when neither are true (what defines a hipster, anyway?) and in some cases even threatened because of my appearance and someone assuming I’m a gentrifier. I once had a local bus driver call me gentrifier and say I’m causing displacement of locals. Apparently I’m not the only one with such experiences, take this excerpt from an article covering your protest:

    “Restaurateur Andre Guerrero, who opened Maximiliano three years ago on York and has had his storefront defaced with anti-gentrification graffiti in the past, expressed anger and dismay.

    ‘My family moved to Glassell Park over 50 years ago. In fact, when we moved here, we were the first Filipino family,’ says Guerrero. ‘I guess the thing that I resent about people who want to protest my being here is that I was probably here before they were. And then they insinuate that somehow I’m a privileged white person with a sense of entitlement. I guess I do have a sense of entitlement because this is my neighborhood….I’m not some carpetbagger opportunist.'”

    You made a number of inaccurate assumptions in the sites you decided to “evict” and denounce.

    There is a good chance that many of the protesters and their families moved to the neighborhood at some point (whether it was 5 years ago or 50 years ago). I want you to imagine how you would feel if you had been treated the same way– pushed around and labeled as unwanted simply because you were new.

    Sure you opened a dialogue, but do you think your protest may have emotionally hurt more people than it helped?


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