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Sun Nov 6, 2016, 04:42 AM

Boyle Heights activists protest art galleries, gentrification

As a young artist in Romania, Mihai Nicodim had to get approval from a Communist Party commission to show his work.

Smiling portraits of workers and peasants would easily score a place in an art show. Abstract paintings stood less of a chance.

For a chance at freedom, Nicodim swam across the Danube River in 1983, risking capture by Romanian soldiers. A friend met him on the other side and drove him to Italy.

In the United States, he was homeless, then slept on a friend’s couch. He and his wife, Ono, saved money for years before achieving their version of the American dream: an art gallery.

The Nicodim gallery operated in Chinatown and then Culver City before moving to Boyle Heights in early 2015.

But to anti-gentrification activists, the Nicodims are the face of unwanted change. Last month, someone scrawled an obscene reference to “white art” on the gallery’s metal screen door.

On Saturday morning, members of the Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement held a news conference on the steps of the Nicodim gallery. They are incensed by the Los Angeles Police Department’s decision to investigate the graffiti as a hate crimeIt’s another way for the LAPD to criminalize youth and create racial divisions in this community, to allege an anti-white hate crime when they’re out there shooting our youth — people of color,” said Elizabeth Blaney, a Boyle Heights resident and co-director of the community organizing group Union de Vecinos.

Josh Rubenstein, an LAPD spokesman, said that detectives initiated the hate crimes investigation based on the available evidence. Parallels drawn by the activists between the investigation and the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Jesse Romero by an LAPD officer are unfounded, Rubenstein added.

According to an LAPD account, Romero, 14, had been tagging gang-type graffiti when he ran from officers, then pointed a gun at them.

The Nicodim gallery and several other art galleries targeted by the activists are located in an industrial area between the Los Angeles River and the 101 Freeway. The activists want to see laundromats, supermarkets and child care centers in the properties, which had previously housed businesses such as warehouses, print shops and fish packers.

Amid concerns about rising rents, the activists see the galleries as a harbinger of change, which they fear will end with the working-class, mostly Latino neighborhood becoming a second Arts District.

“You are not the cutting edge of culture,” Walt Senterfitt, a tenants’ rights activist, said of the galleries. “You are the leading edge of gentrification, colonialism and destruction.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-boyle-heights-protest-20161104-story.html

Very interesting an emotional article on the subject. I understand the grievances against gentrification and rising rents, but is it really fair to target businesses and people not of the minority/majority of that area versus targeting the city government that allows the rent to rise and displace people?

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Reply Boyle Heights activists protest art galleries, gentrification (Original post)
romanic Nov 2016 OP
brush Nov 2016 #1

Response to romanic (Original post)

Sun Nov 6, 2016, 08:22 AM

1. Lacking a rent control law, the government can't stop rents from going up, the landlords do that . .

if they can get away with it.

The community activists are correct in recognizing the art gallery as a harbinger of higher rents and change.

Unfortunately, you can't stop change.

Nothing stays the same forever.

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