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The Neighborhood That Went to War Against Gentrifiers

In East L.A.’s Boyle Heights, an art gallery closes, and a group of activists and residents claim a victory in their battle against encroaching development.
A mariachi musician walks past a mural in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
A mariachi musician walks past a mural in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

In May of last year, a nonprofit art gallery called PSSST was preparing to open in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, a working-class Latino community just across the river from downtown Los Angeles’s Arts District. Instead, on what should have been opening day, the gallery faced a crowd of protesters gathered in front of the space, banging drums, holding posters, and chanting slogans in English (“We don’t need galleries, we need higher salaries!”) and Spanish (“¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!”). At some point during the day’s protest, someone threw feces at the window, according to the owners; eventually, a neighbor called the police.

You can see part of the protest in the video below (it contains some strong language).