Boyle Heights, the neighborhood east of the Arts District, just across the river, was long ago anointed as one of the next big neighborhoods to be gentrified. A group of radical activists has been fighting that tide for a while now, and its members recently have taken aim at what they consider the driving force of gentrification and displacement: art galleries.
"We have one pretty simple demand,"says Maga Miranda, an activist with the group Defend Boyle Heights, "which is for all art galleries in Boyle Heights to leave immediately and for the community to decide what takes their place."
Miranda is part of a new coalition calling itself Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement, or BHAAAD. "We’re not against art or culture," she says. "Obviously, the Eastside has been an incredibly active place when it comes to art and culture. But the art galleries are part of a broader effort by planners and politicians and developers who want to artwash gentrification."
At a two-hour community meeting on Tuesday night at the Pico Gardens housing project, activists and residents vented about what they see as an existential threat to the neighborhood.
"Galleries are creating more problems in our community," Boyle Heights resident Ana Hernandez said through a translator. "How many homes and how many jobs do we lose? Each gallery that opens in our community makes our community a luxury zone."
Another Boyle Heights resident, Delmira Gonzalez, described fighting against crime and gang violence for decades.