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Mapping the Use of Injunctions to Push Gentrification and Metro

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by Jimmy Ramos

Ellen Reese, Deverteuil, and Thach describe strategies of poverty deconcentration as a way to control and discipline the poor and their command of space in order to create ‘spatial fixes’ of capital accumulation by transforming social landscapes . 

These strategies include the placement of police officers, homeless shelters, and other social services for the poor as efforts to deconcentrate Skid Row which includes the collaboration between government, business and development interests, and nonprofit agencies.  The authors believe that there are two mechanisms of poverty deconcentration.

The displacement of housing and services which includes HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) program.  A program that funded the demolition of public housing, its dispersion, and/or efforts at income mixing .

The second mechanism of poverty deconcentration is the criminalization of low-income residents and the displacement by police action and harassment.  This encompasses implementations of ‘zero tolerance’ policies of crime that tends to target poor racial minorities.  These were recognized as ‘Homeless Reduction Strategies’ titled Safer City Initiative which hired additional officers to police Skid Row, ordinances that prohibit camping, urination, and defecation in public areas, and dispersement of social services.  LAPD promoted these police strategies based on the ‘broken windows’ theory of crime. 

The theory is authoritative and involves the elimination of what is believed to be the root of violence in an area (violence can only be suppressed if the ‘quality of life’ offenses that encourage social disorder are punished swiftly and eliminated).  The displacement by police action and harassment justified through ‘zero tolerance’ policies and the ‘broken windows’ theory of crime resonates with civil gang injunctions.

Gang injunctions are civil court orders that prohibit a gang and its members from conducting certain specified activities within a defined geographic area known as a ‘safety zone’.  In Los Angeles, restrictions are the association with other gang members, the use of gang signs, colors, and attire, illegal drug activities (possession/the selling and transportation of illegal drugs), the possession of alcohol, possession or ownership of any dangerous or deadly weapon, graffiti/vandalism and/or possession of graffiti/vandalism tools, intimidation, threats and harassment (ACLU).  The violation of this order can be up to six months in jail or juvenile hall and/or a $1,000 fine. Once a person is listed on an injunction, they are not allowed to congregate in groups of two or more, stand in public for more than five minutes, wear certain clothes, and make certain gestures. According to Ana Muniz from Youth Justice Coalition, they can be arrested if they engage in any of these activities and subject to a ten year sentence .

The map bellow depicts current Gang Injunctions in Los Angeles in grey.  The map also features Metro Gold, Red, Purple, Blue, Green, and Expo Lines. 

The map was designed to visualize the greater context of gentrification which begins with displacement. Gentrification is a process influenced by housing policies, private interests, and the revitalization of Cities and its inner cities.  Revitalization refers to returning capital to the City.

Map of Gang Injunctions and Metro Areas

Both state and corporate power contribute through public-private partnerships and policies that use public funds for private development. This is very relevant concerning the neoliberalistic U.S. housing policies beginning in the 1980s. In the process of gentrification many people of low-income communities of color are displaced. Displacement in Los Angeles’ inner cities are supported by law enforcement through police action and harassment justified through the legal system.  These tactics have been repeated in past waves of “revitalizing” the city such as Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine where police forcefully removed residents.

In the case of Chavez Ravine, the use of eminent domain was used by the state to hand over Chavez Ravine to the owners of the Dodgers (Private developer). Mayor Norris Poulson and his urban renewal committee were behind Bunker Hill, Chavez Ravine, and the scheme to annex Boyle Heights, City Terrace, and Belvedere to private developers.  Residents of those communities were able to prevent this from happening after what was done in Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium is a form of revitalization as it attracts people and brings capital. 

This is true with Metro light rails /Transit-Oriented Development and its relation to housing.  Downtown is surrounded by low-income communities of color and the largest homeless population in Skid Row.  Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a tool to maximize the amount of residents, business, and walkability. Los Angeles County has planned Transit-Oriented Development around certain stations including the Gold, Blue, and Green Line for the future.

This map aims to visualize the relationship between Gang Injunctions and Metro Light Rail /Transit-Oriented Development.

The El Popo Newspaper was first published in 1970 by students concerned about the lack of a Chicana and Chicano perspective in newspapers. As a result, students called the newspaper, El Popo. The paper was named El Popo after the volcano El Popocatepetl. Involved in Chicana/o Movement of the 60’s and 70’s, students saw a connection between the smoke spewing volcano ready to erupt and the student movement ready to engage. Thus, throughout the El Popo’s forty-six years, the name continues to symbolize and to represent the spirit of each generation of students that contribute to the pages of the El Popo Newspaper. Faculty Advisor/Publisher Carlos R. Guerrero, Ph.D.