Protect L.A.’S Koreatown

by tk lê


I love Koreatown. From Far East Movement to Parker (aka Dumbfoundead) to Roy Choi and the entire cast of Ktown — as many before me have said and shown, the neighborhood is filled with small businesses to satiate practically any of my child-of-immigrant cravings, and at any time of the day. The local mail store that opens before the post office does, the bar down the street that lets me bring my own mixers, and the endless fried and spicy things to cure all that ails me… Yes, I love Ktown for all these things.

I also love the community here. As one of the densest populations in all of Los Angeles, Ktown is filled with people. Workers who catch the bus before sunrise, God-fearers who worship with megaphones, gardeners who harvest fresh vegetables between brick and concrete. People — mostly working class people of color — exist here, they live and they thrive and they struggle. They play and they work and they party.

Ktown is not, as a developer named Mike Hakim has said, a community full of “rapists” and “pedophiles.” (This is on public record. Go to the 11-minute mark.)

Hakim is behind what is tentatively being called the “Catalina Project,” 27 stories of luxury rentals that offer little benefit to the existing community. To understand the scale of this project, 27 stories is nine times the scale of the surrounding buildings in the area. Of the 269 apartments being proposed, not one is being offered as affordable housing. And going by similar developments along Wilshire, with rents for one-bedrooms reaching $2000, Ktown’s rents are only going to go higher.

The project displaces at least 14 rent-controlled units, and is just adjacent to a strip full of small Korean and Oaxacan businesses. With 500 parking units dedicated only to the tenants, imagine the traffic when students from the neighboring Robert F. Kennedy Community School come to and from school. The city has done some initial studies on environmental impacts of this development, but nothing substantial. For something as enormous as this project, it’s ridiculous to say that this development will not affect traffic or pollution in the surrounding area.

My neighbors have gone door knocking at surrounding apartments and local businesses to get a gauge on how people feel about the project. Most did not know about it at all. None of the materials sent to the area were in languages accessible to this multilingual community, which includes Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese speakers. In fact, when we received the last public hearing notice, it took my roommate and I a good amount of time to figure out exactly what it was saying. The city holds public hearings at times when most people are at work, and attending is only effective if your agenda item gets talked about that day (which sometimes it is not, and you must wait for the next public hearing if that is the case). Surprise! Most people we spoke to did not approve of the project.

So, with all this in place, how is this project getting the OK to go? The developer has been trying for over a decade to build on this block. The City Planning Commission and the City Planning Department, first under Antonio Villaraigosa and then Eric Garcetti, vetoed Hakim every step of the way for those ten years. At a public hearing on October 8, the City Planning Commissioners once again voiced opposition to the project, citing that it is not “consistent with good zoning practice.” But Garcetti’s vote is more powerful than theirs, and a few months ago, he overruled his own city appointees to approve construction. His approval reduces the number of City Council votes needed — and a City Council vote is the final step in this development from happening. Additionally, Councilmember Herb Wesson oversees this district and also supports this development. With his backing and political influence, Wesson can pressure other councilmembers to vote in favor of the project as well.

Hakim has agreed to cede some of his profit over to the city. He’s promised $1 million toward the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and an additional $250,000 to Wesson’s district. While that may sound like a lot of money, the funds for affordable housing is not guaranteed to go directly to Koreatown, and also only enables the construction of approximately two units of affordable housing.

Garcetti backs the project because of its proximity to public transit; he says that the Catalina Project is in line with the Wilshire Community Plan, which encourages developments that reduce traffic in the area. Again: 500 parking spaces, and only for the residents of the luxury rentals. Research shows that those who can afford such rentals do not use public transit even when they live by it.

Hakim, Garcetti, and Wesson have blatantly disregarded the needs of the community, even circumventing asking and informing the community. It is worth repeating here that Hakim thinks that the community = rapists and pedophiles. The profit that the they will receive is immensely disproportionate to what Koreatown will get, which will only aid the neighborhood in the short term.

Nobody is saying that Koreatown shouldn’t change. We may all agree that Ktown has its charm, but it also has its issues — we need cleaner streets, safer spaces accessible to the community, and affordable housing. In a city with rapidly rising rent costs and a city emergency declared on homelessness, a tower of luxury rentals only augments these crises. Let’s talk about development that centers people and not profit. Please help us protect Koreatown and work toward building development that gives real, tangible, and long-term benefits to the families who are already here.

We’re quickly running out of options to stop this development and need your help. Here are things you can do from where you’re at — right now!

1. City Council will be voting on this project on Tues, March 22, 2016 at 2:30pm at Room 350, City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Come join us to say NO to the project!

If you can’t make it, you can send in a letter to PLUM. Letter templates are available here:

2. Get involved with us! We are working hard at resisting this project in many different ways – from door to door outreach, community meetings, and a Koreatown community anti-displacement storytelling project!

We are on Twitter, Facebook, and you can also e-mail us at


Why Gentrification Will Never Kill Barrio Magic

by Nidia Melissa Bautista
Nidia Melissa Bautista is a freelance journalist based in Mexico City. Lo suyo es todo sobre el transbarrio, feminismos, movimientos y los amaneceres de Boyle Heights. See blog, aquí:


The rough-and-tumble streetscape/ abandoned factories/ warehouses/ scrap-metal yards/ sidewalks still largely devoid of life/ metal gates and barbed wire/forbidding allure

“It’s all about discovery and taking chances and hopefully finding something revelatory”
“The social aspect is essential for artistic innovation”
“There’s a sense of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys around here.

– Gentrification, a study by The New York Times.

When white gentrifiers suddenly appeared sauntering down Boyle Height’s sidewalks
turning heads of abuelitas sitting on sunny porches
my neighborhood became important.

Important destination for bicycle tours featuring artisanal snacks
organized by developers for urbanites
with enough courage to venture to Los Angeles’s eastern frontier
in search of charming little Mexican homes to buy flip own

Important incubator of vanguard art hosted by emerging art galleries
the kind that boast of grimy freeway overpasses
city garbage and poverty providing
great dramatic contrast to their gallery’s impeccable white interiors

Important business endeavors for breweries serving up pale ales, saisons, porters
to patrons clueless of the brown bodies surrounding the renovated warehouses

Important because when gentrification sprang up in talks around dinner tables
we suddenly feared losing what we thought had always been and would always be ours

Safe space
where eating, laughing, bridging, organizing, and caring
are ways to heal our collective spiritual wounds
where we hold space to be fully ourselves

Presence defines us here
where we are more than just those who crossed the borders barefoot
the people who trim your yard
prepare and serve you your ramen, steak, or burger
More than just your maquila worker
your nanny or token Latinx voter

More than just those who were displaced from their campos
gunned down by police
ignored and pushed to the fringes of invisibility
beyond the reach of accountability, respect, and justice

Here we have nurtured a life filled with marvelous moments of
brown brilliance and barrio magic

What our parents carried on their backs
and imbued in us
what makes our lives
exceptionally beautiful and us

Barrio magic like
the morning strolls looking for the tamale lady
like that’s all the soul searching we’ll ever need

It’s the little brown girl posted alongside the raspado lady
digging through the mountain of 50-cent chips
holding up bag after bag to momma

Her moppy black hair frames her bright eyes peeking above the bag of Doritos
pleading to her momma too busy with the chisme

It’s the street-side food hustle that fills our bellies
with the blue corn quesadillas and deep-fried garnachas that remind us
of cities and pueblos that some of us have only been to in our dreams

The grandkids riding inside their abuelita’s black basket shopping carts
blabbering their Spanglish adventures to the wind
happy, invincible, and impeccably groomed
warmth between the little loves and the worlds that embrace them

Barrio magic is filling public space with our presence
musicians, migrantes, paísas, metalerxs
niñxs comiendo sus tostilocos on a plaza bench a luz de día
a luz de las nubes

Chambeadores, cocinerxs, gardinerxs, estudiantes, madres, abuelxs
seres who find home, space, and the rest
expressed in the beautiful word my momma always demanded
of my younger desmadrosa self: resollar, rest.

Rest in a world that is violence without cease,
toward the people who fill my community
means resisting in the way our communities have done all along:
inhabit and exist.

We recognize what gentrification means for us
not because it makes us suddenly visible or important
to those who will never see our magic

But displacement has followed us across
Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran, Peruvian, U.S. borders

Unbearably important when we feel that stinging anger rise from the pit of our stomachs
as we witness whiteness and power
anything it wants to and map it on Yelp.

The power to build, as if nothing was there before

Revamp as if structures, homes, life, and cultures crafted by the displaced into art and love are lives to be torn down by developers

Revitalize, as if life lay there listless, absent, and invisible

Rehab structures but shoo away street side-beggar plagued with cirrhosis
that take up space on the bus benches in front of their galleries

Overwhelming fear of seeing all the magic erased forever
what we love buried and built upon, torn down and redesigned

Our parents and ancestors forced to leave pueblos
have gone back to only find maquiladoras where before stood their apple orchards
where before beautiful soil persevered their memories, love, and life like shrines

Ensuing gentrification make me feel desperate to preserve the physical
the places that nurture all that is love and presence

But this presence and magic lives in shrines within us
magic that whispers
We will not let them erase us.


The “Gente-fication” of Boyle Heights: Decolonizing Cultural Work in Contested Urban Space

The “Gente-fication” of Boyle Heights: Decolonizing Cultural Work in Contested Urban Space

by Magali Miranda
Maga is an Eastside native, born and raised where Boyle Heights borders/embraces unincorporates East L.A. She is a first-generation Xicana with roots in DF and Michoacan. She is currently appropriating knowledge at UC Santa Cruz where she is studying Community Studies and Feminist Studies.

Gente-fication (n): Contraction from the word “gente” (Spanish for “people”) + gentrification = gentefication. Michelada-drinking, college-going, newly-minted professional Latinos moving back home to over-priced transitional neighborhoods, who move back ‘home’ only to find a new crop of (non-Latino) upwardly mobile gentrifiers, thus inducing an identity crisis.

Example: All this gentefication is getting out of control… my ma ain’t gonna be able to stay here.
Example: Am I part of the gentification problem because I like trendy carbs and cocktails?

(Adaptated from an entry on

I was freshly out of high school when I began to hear rumors that Josefina Lopez had decided to put her theater company, Casa 0101, in Boyle Heights. Lopez could easily have put her theater in Hollywood, having just received critical acclaim for her screenplay, Real Women Have Curves (2002). I mean, sure she was a Chicana raised on the East Side, but she was upwardly-mobile. Surely upwardly mobile Chicanas would try to move out of “the barrio,” not back in. It wasn’t long before I heard the strange term, “gente-fication” to describe this phenomenon of upwardly mobile Chican@s coming back to the barrio. This paradox is made sense of at least partly by activists through a form of hybridity.

This hybridity is known as rasquache. Rasquache is a Mexican and Mexican American aesthetic characterized by multi-layering and incongruousness (Taylor 97). “It is citational, recycled, transposed itno a context that brings about the reversal from high to low, from reverent to irreverent”(Taylor 126). “Gente-fication” is a rasquache term that combines “gente” and “gentrification.” And this hibridity is a way of making sense of the world where dichotomous thinking would not suffice, and could lead to an identity crisis. Rasquache has the ability, then, to temporarily disrupt taken-for-granted dichotomies. Many of the dichotomies rasquache seeks to disrupt are perhaps best understood through Jose Munoz’ conceptions of “majority culture” and “minoritarian counter-identity” that tent to lock individuals in given identities. By invoking art and performance, la gente appear to be separate from the gentrifiers who use cold facts and data. In this way rasquache, and specifically “gente-fication,” is a form of disidentification. In the case of Boyle Heights, disidentification is particularly important given the tendency for discourses of gentrification to replicate binary thinking, as exemplified by the dichotomy of gente/gentrifier.

“Gente-fiers” are in a state of nepantla, or a state of in-betweeness. In her seminal work, Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua describes nepantla thus:

“Bridges are thresholds to other realities, archetypal, primal symbols of shifting consciousness. They are passageways, conduits, and connectors that connote transitioning, crossing borders, and changing perspectives. Bridges span liminal (threshold) spaces between worlds, spaces I call nepantla, a Nahuatl word meaning tierra entre medio. Transformations occur in this in-between space, an unstable, unpredictable, precarious, always-in-transition space lacking clear boundaries. Nepantla es tierra desconocida, and living in this liminal zone means being in a constant state of displacement–an uncomfortable, even alarming feeling. Most of us dwell in nepantla so much of the time it’s become a sort of “home.” Though this state links us to other ideas, people, and worlds, we feel threatened by these new connections and the change they engender.”

The state of nepantla for “gente-fiers” goes something like this: Am I gente or a gentrifier? Is my project producing exchange value or use value? Am I an artist or a laborer? Am I living in the past or looking toward the future? Going backward or forward? What clues does the hybridity of “gente-fication” give us for knowing ourselves differently? For building bridges to new worlds? In what follows I want to use a decolonial methodology that precisely bridges scholarly work and activist practices gathered from informants who live and work in Boyle Heights. Many of them do not describe themselves of “gente-fiers” but grapple with these questions in their cultural work on a daily basis.



James Rojas is a Los Angeles-based city planner. He was born and raised on the eastside, and studied in MIT where he wrote his dissertation about 1970’s city planning in East LA and Boyle Heights. Particularly he studies the neighborhoods as a site of “Latino urbanism.” In his 2015 piece “How the Civil Rights Movement Shaped Latino Urbanism in East L.A.,” Rojas defines Latino urbanism as a phenomenon that “goes beyond creating great public spaces… [It] includes cultural identity, which is shaped by needs, desires, and imagination.” The examples he gives include structures in a style of architecture that reflect what he refers to as a Chicano utopia. For example, the Doctor’s Hospital in East LA which still currently stands as a monument to modern and pre-Colombian medicine. However, Rojas does not push his concept of a Chicano utopia far enough in as far as he remains in the domain of urban planning that focuses on murals and plazas, as well as materials like stucco and metal. Surely, these styles evoke a certain consciousness, but aesthetics by themselves do not a Chicano utopia make. Nevertheless, his insight is helpful for imagining that there is some precedent for gente-driven urban planning. He writes that “the initial grassroots artistic Chicano interventions of the 1970s created civic discourse and influenced architecture.”

But let’s say we wanted to push Rojas’ thinking a little bit further to think not just about the style of architecture but the function of urban space. We don’t have to look far to find a contemporary example. White Memorial Hospital is situated in a central area of Boyle Heights, Cesar Chavez Ave. The large buildings that make up the hospital complex are decorated with murals similarly to the Doctor’s Hospital on First Street in East LA, an example that Rojas touts as a classic example of Latino urbanism. What distinguished White Memorial, at least before last year when Proyecto Jardin moved its operation, was that part of its property was utilized by a non-profit community garden where people could practice indigenous and land-based forms of wellness. While significant, the shortcoming of Rojas’ analysis is that it pushes up against but does not fully attack or reject the dichotomy of gente/gentrifier.

Rojas sort resolves or rather avoids this question through championing a familiar trope of minoritarian counter-identification—Chicano nationalism. Desiree Martin describes how “Chicano nationalist identity is especially symbolized by the claim on the U.S. Southwest and Mexican north as Aztlan, an indigenous ‘nation historically anterior to the founding of the United States’ and Mexico(Martin 117)”. In this way Rojas’ “Chicano utopia” is a new articulation of Aztlan, a site of a cohesive Mexican and indigenous identity. In the discourse of gentrification, this strategic essentialism may be a useful tool for counter-acting the whitewashing of public space, but it falls short of faithfully capturing power differentials among Chicanos that are informed by class, immigration status and gender. Drawing from her study of Cesar Chavez, a hero of the Chicano movement, Desiree complicates the homogeneity of Chicano/a identity first by complicating the narrative of male heroes that has eclipsed women’s participation (ibid). Furthermore, she says:

“[Romano V.] calls the Chicanos/as inspired by a man in Delano shouting !Huelga! (Strike!) ‘descendants of the Aztecs’(77-82). But this cohesive Mexican indigenous past is unsustainable for contemporary Chicanos/as, while the myth of Mexican solidarity rings false for several reasons. It should not be forgotten that many Mexicans, especially those from the middle and upper classes, either ignored Chavez or were simply unfamiliar with him. The Mexicans who were familiar with Chavez’s deeds and legacy often criticized him, interpreting his support of immigration controls as an affront.”(ibid)

This begs the question, what is left unexamined in Rojas’ analysis?

In this sense, Chicanismo is another state of nepantla, or in-betweenness. It champions discourses and aesthetics that refuse to white-wash and sterilize Mexican and indigenous history from the landscape, at the sake of creating a Mexican and indigenous identity that perhaps never was a viable identity for many Eastside residents, including the middle class, undocumented people, women, and Central Americans. Can we imagine another “Xicanx utopia” that takes these questions—of gender, immigration status, class, nationality and perhaps others—into consideration? If so, what might that look like? How can we use Rojas to push back against majority discourses of gentrification that seek to sanitize and whitewash culture without reifying the other binaries in the process? How do we not only minimize but eliminate the “collateral damage” (according to NPR, the most vulnerable are people who lack rent control, people with disabilities, and the elderly) of gentrification, as Xela de la X, a local artist and activist, put it? What is the role of nepantlero “gente-fiers” in decolonizing urban planning processes, and can decolonization move beyond discourses and aesthetics? Are there sites where this is already happening in some degree, such as in Proyecto Jardin? I believe these questions are of great importance to barrio creative workers in contested urban space.

The next part of this project I hope to complete will focus, through a similar process, on disturbing and decolonizing other discourses of gentrification by complicating the binaries of past/future that anchor “the myth of the disappearing native”; use value/exchange value that anchor commodification of culture in a capitalist economy; and art(ist)/labor(er) that anchor discourses about the value of labor.

Works Cited

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt

Lute, 1987.

Taylor, Diana. The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham: Duke UP, 2003.

Martin, Desiree A. Borderland Saints: Secular Sanctity in Chicano/a and Mexican Culture. New

Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics.

Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1999.

Rojas, James. “How the Civil Rights Movement Shaped Latino Urbanism in East L.A.” KCET.

KCET, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

Rojas, James. “Looking for the Rasquache at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.” KCET. KCET,

29 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Interview with Xela de la X. Conducted February 28, 2015.


By Sara Aceves

Sara is a Boyle Heights resident and Wyvernwood community member 

As I walked down the street…

As I walked down Glenn Ave I passed my safe haven when all of a sudden I have this realization

Soon there will be an invasion

They will come to destroy generation after generation

But I close my eyes to rid the thought, I take a deep breath inhale the vegetation

All we want is conservation

No need for destruction or arguments, all we need is cooperation, a simple conversation

No need for urbanization

Just room for preservation

Take our thoughts, words, and gestures into consideration

STOP this modification, exploitation, colonization, evacuation

We are not just one but a population

Just because we don’t fit your qualification

Means we need your purification or as I see it your intoxication

This is just a thought, hopefully some clarification

We don’t need your gentrification.

Candlelight Vigil Brings Awareness to Negative Effects of Gentrification in Highland Park

Candlelight Vigil Brings Awareness to Negative Effects of Gentrification in Highland Park
Los Angeles, CA
December 1, 2014
10704342_674729742641719_6826603296168562312_oResidents of Highland Park California, along with the Northeast Los Angeles Alliance will be holding a candlelight vigil and silent procession on December 13, 2014 to bring awareness to the negative effects of gentrification such as displacement of residents. The procession will begin at the corner of York Blvd. and Figueroa Street at5pm and make stops along and around Figueroa Street in front of residences known to be sites of displacement. The stops will provide a safe space for residents to offer their testimony to their community and the press.

The intention of the event is to bring awareness to the negative effects of gentrification such as displacement of working class, poor and immigrant communities. The event will also provide support to this community which is currently facing drastic rent increases and mass evictions as a direct result of gentrification. Highland Park is a community that has been in the news lately for its increasing and very visible gentrification. The debate around the subject has often been heated, but the voices of those most affected have been left out of this debate. For this reason, it’s especially important to hear these voices before they’re lost.

About 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. The Northeast Alliance is non-complacent in challenging the prevailing narratives of gentrification by presenting and recording voices of those most affected by its repercussions.


Northeast Los Angeles Alliance

(626) 497-9583


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.


by Rio Contreras
Rio is Echo Park Born and Raised. Resisting Displacement, Aiming to Decolonize, and Youth Educator

Echo Park,

Where the hipsters roam the streets

with a cafe late in the day

and a PBR at night

Eko Parque

Where the vatos still walk home

from a dodgers game

with an Eko Parque pride on their face at night

and an oveworked/not enough work face at day

Echo Park

Where many people who are immigrants work the streets

with an an apron for fruits to sell at day

and an apron for tacos to sell at night.

Rewind to the 1980s…

Eco Parc,

Donde las familia imigrantes bought their first home

With overpacked 2 bedrooms filled with twelve

with broken roofs that let in that once in awhile rain from LA

with thin enough walls to hear your neighbors wail

with overworked faces

with long missin’ mi tierra faces

with stressed out fearfilled faces

with blood shoot eyes

that blanket the gaze

over so many of us kids and abuelas alike

Staying up because the chopper is flooding your patio with a violating light. Searching for a “ganster” and announcing it over a loud as mic.

Fast Forward…

Echo Park,

now seen as the new white

the hip place to move into

the hip place to displace familias

the hip place to step into your new hollywood image.

Hipsters streaming Echo Park pride on their shirts.

The same hipsters back then would have been screaming

get me out of this brown haven because it hurts.

Si, Echo Park

has always been a beautiful brown haven.

A mix of Central Americans, Mexicans, Pilipinos, Chinese and so many others.

The food and culture always abundant, despite the stress.

  • Mexican quebradita parties across the streets
  • Central Americans interchanging tamales weekly
  • Chinese kids going to their Chinese schools
  •     Pilipinos created the lotus festival with an Asian Pacific Islander pride

A glimpse of the world is what we truly received.

A bad name of all being gangsters is what was wrongly perceived.

Si, Original Echo Parque was beautiful then and NOW!

Yes to Liberation Arts! No to Gentrification!

by GATAS, a collective of cultural fieldworkers using art as a tool for liberation and healing in Los Angeles. 
Let’s call “gentrification” by what it really is: oKKKupation. Our communities are under attack with the threat of displacement every day. From settler colonialists of USC in South Central to occupiers in Echo Parque who call ExP “The New Silverlake”, we now see the attack on Boyle Heights with the recent bike ride planned by Adaptive Realty as well as with CicLAvia this past week. We are being invaded by those who aim to push working class families out of the very communities they have built. We must learn from these current fights and be critical of the tools that make occupation possible.

Art in particular has been used as a tool to create access of our communities to occupation forces. When the artwalk invaded downtown, we saw a growing trend of overpolicing with the push for S-Comm and Special Order 1 which legitimized LAPD Spying. The city made way for the hipsters and chipsters to drink their shitty wine by clearing the streets in the same fashion that the World Cup would clear the favelas in Brazil earlier this year.

Liberation is the goal. Art is only a byproduct. As cultural field workers, liberation artists and peoples’ propaganda brigadiers, we are calling for all artists to build for revolution. When it comes to the role of the artist, let us be very clear: Pintorxs tambien somos trabajadorxs. We are working class and must fight for proletarian revolution. This can only be done through an anti capitalist lens that remains critical of how art is used. Art is not the problem. The problem is how and why we make art. Are we collectively building art with the community or are we creating art to attract outsiders to “invest” in us? This is a question that we as artists must ask ourselves.

These are our communites. We know these streets better. We have run them as children of the night and now we run these streets
as guerriller@s.

Vamos dibujando el camino companer@s.

Somos GATAS – Guerrillera Arte por la Tierra, Autonomia, y Solidaridad

Displacement Poem

Karen is a genderqueer playwright/performer/artivist from LA, Paraguay and Argentina currently residing in Highland Park. They are most known for their solo show Ser!

Corporations can just buy the displacement of thousands of gente
Like the incarcerations of our color population

Our ice detentions making bills on children
Instead of doing the right thing, they focus on greed.

Blindfolding, brainwashing,
So your eyes can’t see
The true bling, bling
Past wall streetInto our oval office on that DC hill
The Capital stands tall on death traps and ill will

From Skid Row to Wyvernwood
This is pure facism starting in the hoods
So if  DV, racism, anddisplacements
Don’t concern you
They will when it’s crept on you
Genocides don’t  stop abroad
They are carried into our land
Rooting like rotting rods
And shipped back
School of the Americas
And if you don’t know just google  that

The  world stands still
As we focus on making bills
On souls and profits thrill
Even in Brasil
The soccer Mecca
El futbol
La gracia de la vida
La gente no se olvida
Que  cuesta to    privatize  the  emotional sector of our hearts
America  Latina
Coca-­Cola, FIFA
The corporations  take the  stand
The  militias and the  Pacifying Police maintaining the peace
As a piece of  cesos of the 5 year-‐old negrito spills on the soccer field
made of dust and yarnmade futbols
His blood fertilizes Rio de  Janeiro
Brasil, Mundial, Olympics
Dealin’ to killin’
Showing us Armegeddon
Brasil makin’ some bills moving ahead
Taking  some    heads
Favelas spread and so do the bullets
5 poor people killed a day
Check it Dilma
There’s the greed
When the need is to wipe away the  ugly
The  poor,  the dark, the needy
All in the name of
Once the beautiful game turned into that monster
Like the crusades and suicide bombers using
Religion as a way to instigate hate
All  in    the    name    of    Allah
Y  Dalai    Lama
Nos  matamos para vivir
No shock will take me down.
No trauma will make me lie down, no mo’
Obama show us the way
Where the nastiness of this world seeds
And we will wash it away
From ice detention to displacements to the new Jim Crow
I’ll  carry  that  hope in my soul
Reaping new earth
Sprouting seeds of resistance
You can’t see them?
Borrow the  surveillance
So easy to  spot  with all the drones
Turning us into old days of Hitler, Pinochet and Franco
Turn it  off.
We need to come together
Turn it  on,
All  our    lights    cannot    be    extinguished    by    fright
All    our    roots    cannot    be    uprooted
Our souls  will not  be  polluted
Our paths  will cross and we    will make a  beautiful dance    
On  that  stolen land
Making  offering for  the  next  generation
To stop the incarcerations,  displacement,  LGBTQ hatred,    criminalizations
profitizations of the  human  race.

One  love, one community
Doesn’t go  out of style
But is a lifestyle
Until corporations  stop  having my rights
And  stripping our life  to become    machines
Lets  play  a  different  tune    
Tuned  in  to  our humanity.