Race-Based Attacks on Boyle Heights Businesses Prompt This L.A. Councilman to Take Sides

Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2017

Guadalupe Virgen Mural

Roberto Mendoza poses for a picture in front of the Guadalupe Virgen Mural in Boyle Heights (Credit Image: Armando Arorizo/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Los  Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar spoke out Friday against the vandalism and race-based tactics being used against art galleries and a coffee shop in Boyle Heights amid gentrification concerns, saying the actions were “unacceptable” and would not be tolerated.

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Huizar’s statement comes after Weird Wave Coffee was vandalized a second time. The coffee shop has been at the center of multiple anti-gentrification protests, similar to the ones held against art galleries in the neighborhood.

“We all have the right to express our 1st Amendment-protected opinions — that is not in dispute,” Huizar wrote in a statement released Friday afternoon. “But when that turns into destroying property or violence of any kind, or targeting people solely based on race, that goes against everything Boyle Heights stands for.”

“Boyle Heights’ history as a diverse community has taught us valuable lessons: Violence is never the answer, and racism begets racism. We must reject it today, tomorrow and always,” he added.

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Early on in the battle against the galleries, protesters stormed into shows and threw detergent on patrons as well as the food they were being served, according to witnesses and news reports. The LAPD investigated the vandalism of one gallery that included graffiti with an expletive directed toward “white art.”

When the owners of Weird Wave Coffee opened their shop last month, they were aware of the movement against gentrification. But they did not think they would be targeted like the art galleries.

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Activists, however, spent weeks trolling the coffeehouse on Instagram before and after it opened. They held protest rallies outside, holding posters — including one with an expletive directed toward “white coffee” and another that read, “AmeriKKKano to go.” They passed out fliers with a parody logo that read “White Wave.”

Some Latino residents who defended Weird Wave Coffee said they were called “coconuts” by activists: Brown on the outside, white on the inside.

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In his statement to the community, Huizar reminded residents that in its early years, Boyle Heights was one of the city’s first diverse communities by, in part, “rejecting racist covenants prevalent in other Los Angeles neighborhoods that literally outlawed people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds from living together.”

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