Excerpts from full statement by BHAAAD + DBH:
We have been telling PSSST and the other galleries what the community needs instead of galleries all along: Authentic affordable housing for low-income people, emergency housing for homeless people and people displaced by gentrification, a laundromat, a needle exchange or harm reduction center, an affordable grocery store, etc. Why was there funding for a 501(c)3 to run a gallery to attract new people to Boyle Heights, but not for services for the existing community? Because the forces that backed PSSST never had any interest in Boyle Heights, except as a real estate investment opportunity. This is the tragedy of artwashing: it channels philanthropy into destroying neighborhoods.
We will not stop fighting until all galleries leave. Boyle Heights will continue to fight against the false promises of development and community improvement that are supposed to benefit us, but end up displacing us from our home. Once again we call on ALL galleries in Boyle Heights to reconsider your position and leave immediately. In addition we call on all our supporters:
continue divesting from these galleries and their programming,
to all artists to refuse to show your work or participate in their programming,
and to all patrons to stop bringing business to these spaces,
and to all the local people to join the fight against gentrification in Boyle Heights and everywhere in Los Angeles.
PSSST opened up their eyes. We ask the other galleries to follow their example and and act in good conscience, understanding their impact on our neighborhood. The community has struggled to make this a peaceful community we have worked and spent energy in making our community the place that we dreamed of. Don’t turn our lives into a nightmare.
From a Resident of Pico Gardens for more than 40 years
The Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement is a coalition born from the complex specificities of Los Angeles. We are new and old friends who find ourselves at the intersection of multiple overlapping struggles. We have come together to confront the current crisis of evictions and abusive real estate practices in L.A., to question the role of culture in gentrification and the narrative of ‘inevitability,’ and to push to stop displacement in its tracks.
WHO WE ARE:
We are: Union de Vecinos – low-income tenants, immigrants, families, seniors, youth, working-class homeowners, and Boyle Heights movement veterans who have spent the last 30 years of our lives struggling to fend off multiple forms of violence and displacement in the Pico Aliso Projects and in all the surrounding neighborhoods of Boyle Heights.
We are: Defend Boyle Heights – the next generation of Angelenos who grew up in, or migrated to Boyle Heights who have joined all our autonomous crews together in the historic struggle for community-defense and collective self-determination in greater East L.A.
We are: Multiple Affinity Groups of Artists, from all over Los Angeles, who acknowledge the active role of art in gentrification and have committed solidarity with those fighting for dignified housing and community self-determination in Boyle Heights. We reject the use of our diverse identities, including our queer and trans identities, to wash over the realities of racial and economic violence.
We are: School of Echoes Los Angeles, who operate as an open listening process of community-based research, popular education, and organizing to generate experiments in political action. We are a space for critical reflection on the conditions in working class and poor communities, including (but not limited to) struggles against gentrification and for the human right to housing.
We are: The Eastside Local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union – part of the city-wide organization formed by renters and residents who do not control their access to shelter. We have come together to defend ourselves against the manipulative development and weak rent control policies, tenant harassment and the unjust evictions which are driving displacement in our city.