Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Boyle Heights Coffee Shop Targeted by 'Anti-Gentrification' Activists

It's a small minority in the community, and they're going to hurt the neighborhood if successful.

This is really bad.

At the Los Angeles Times, "A community in flux: Will Boyle Heights be ruined by one coffee shop?":
As dusk settled over a mostly industrial landscape of warehouses covered with graffiti murals, Fernando Ramirez stood in front of the lone art gallery late Saturday afternoon and urged fashionably dressed visitors not to go inside.

“Don’t contribute to the displacement of the people in the community right here in Boyle Heights. Our rents are going up because of the art galleries,” he said. “Please do not cross the picket line!”

Ramirez, 38, had come to this desolate stretch of Boyle Heights with other protesters to once again declare war against a growing number of neighborhood art galleries and what he and other activists fear they foreshadow: a wave of gentrification.

On Sunday, a few miles east, a smaller group of protesters gathered outside a white storefront on Cesar Chavez Avenue with the word “COFFEE” painted in black.

Months after the activists won an apparent victory by pressuring an art gallery to close down amid what the owners called “constant attacks,” the protests against the galleries — and now Weird Wave Coffee — have illustrated both the demonstrators’ knack for annoying their targets as well as the limits of their tactics.

Along the gray desolation of Anderson Street, they have contended with sometimes well-financed galleries that can largely weather the disruptions. And on the busy stretch of Boyle Heights that houses Weird Wave Coffee, they have confronted residents who don’t take kindly to being told what to do or buy.

Anti-gentrification forces spent weeks trolling the coffee house on Instagram before and after it opened June 15. They held protest rallies outside the business, holding posters, including one that read “… White Coffee” and included an expletive, and another that said “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.

“It makes us look bad,” Koda Torres said of the confrontational tactics used against the cafe. “The way they handle the situation of gentrification wasn’t appropriate. They were almost vandalizing their windows, harassing the customers, calling people sellouts and racists.”

But for the protesters, the stakes are too high for niceties. As they see it, if Boyle Heights is taken over by the forces of gentrification, then no other neighborhood is safe.

“It’s a threat to local businesses and it’s one more sign of gentrification that we need to defeat,” Leonardo Vilchis, director of Union de Vecinos, said of Weird Wave Coffee. “Otherwise this neighborhood is going to end up just like Highland Park.”

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 Los Angeles Police Department investigated the graffiti of one gallery that included an expletive and said “… White Art.”

The Eastside has long been a center of Los Angeles’ protest movements, whether it was residents marching against the Vietnam War in the 1970s or more recently demonstrating for immigrant rights.

But the activists who have fought against gentrification have so far failed to rally a large number of residents to their cause.

Some longtime residents like the rising property values and increased retail choices. Others are concerned about people being pushed out of the neighborhood. They also struggle to connect the dots, like the activists, between widespread gentrification and a cafe or art galleries in an isolated part of Boyle Heights.

“I don’t know the word ‘gentrification,’” said Nancy Garcia, 31, a Boyle Heights resident. “I know the word ‘displacement.’”

About 100 people, including Garcia, showed up at a separate rally activists organized last month at Mariachi Plaza to support mariachis and other tenants facing eviction from homes that will be converted into luxury apartments. The atmosphere was spirited but peaceful, with musicians playing in the background...

I guess one consolation is that these protests pit leftists against leftists, heh.

(Overall, though, I just see "anti-gentrification" as anti-progress. You've got bad people who want to bring down everybody else, rather than lift everyone up. Resist them).