Ariel Collins, The City Project’s Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow

August 19th, 2014

Ariel Collins is the Juanita Tate Social Justice Fellow at The City Project. Ariel received her Master of Justice Studies from Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation. As a graduate student, Ariel worked with low-income residents, an elementary school district, and the City of Phoenix to promote community outreach and collaboration, and to build support for a neighborhood park in an underserved area of southwest Phoenix. Prior to graduate school, Ariel worked in outreach and education at a no cost dental clinic for the homeless. She served two terms as an AmeriCorps member, most recently in Santa Ana, California.  She graduated from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Ariel has worked with The City Project since 2013.

ariel collins 2014

The Fellowship honors the late Juanita Tate, a founder of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, community activist, and City Project friend, ally, and client. The City Project had the honor of representing Juanita and Concerned Citizens in the people’s victories to create Los Angeles State Historic Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park, to protect the community and the park in the Baldwin Hills, and to create the civil rights park Walk a Mile in My Shoes. We represented her and Concerned Citizens in the successful fight for clean water justice to fix the sewer system city wide, and eliminate noxious odors in the heart of African American Los Angeles.


NRPA The Social Equity Issue – Green Justice: The Promise for Equity in Our Parks The City Project

August 19th, 2014

PNR August 2014

“I recently sat down with renowned civil rights attorney and founding director and counsel of The City Project, Robert Garcia, and over the course of several hours, I got a glimpse into the mind and personality of a compelling individual, a man who has taken up the fight for civil rights and what he calls ‘green justice’ in Los Angeles and in communities beyond the city boundaries.”

Read the rest of this story by Gina Mullins-Cohen on Green Justice: The Promise for Equity in Our Parks in the Social Equity Issue of Parks & Recreation (August 2014).

nrpa social justice 2014
Robert Garcia will be a keynote speaker at the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Congress October 14, 2014.

Ferguson Michael Brown KPFK Radio Antonio Gonzalez, City Project’s Robert García Aug. 18 4:40 pm

August 18th, 2014

Antonio Gonzalez in the KPFK studios

Tune into WCVI’s
President Antonio Gonzalez’s
Radio Show “Strategy Session”

The City Project’s Robert García will discuss the events in Ferguson, MO, and the killing of college-bound teenager Michael Brown by a St. Louis-area police officer on August 9, 2014. The shooting death of Ezell Ford, an unarmed 25-year-old black man, by a Los Angeles Police Department officer on August 11, 2014, is the most recent tragic killing of a black person at the hands of law enforcement. Just weeks earlier, on July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, was choked and killed by a New York City police officer. These deaths are not unique occurrences, but are instead emblematic of the deeply flawed relationship between the police and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.

Robert García served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York prosecuting public corruption. He is a civil rights attorney who helped released the late Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt from prison after 27 years for a crime he did not commit. With Senator Tom Hayden and civil rights attorney Paul Hoffman, he helped persuade the US Department of Justice to monitor the Los Angeles Police Department under a court order in the wake of the Ramparts police misconduct scandal. He was an attorney in Thomas litigation to reform the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Monday August 18 from 4:40 pm to 5:00 pm!

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Civil Rights Is Alive and Kicking Ferguson Images Evoke the Same Visual Perceptions Memo to NY Times

August 15th, 2014

civil rights ferguson  rg 20140815 4 (1)

Memo to the New York Times: The Civil Rights Era is not over, and the images speak for themselves, evoking the same, not changing, visual perceptions.

“On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we are taking a forward look at Title VI of the Act, which prohibits discrimination by recipients of federal funds, and which also created its own administrative enforcement infrastructure in each federal agency’s ‘Office of Civil Rights.’ As the articles below discuss, despite some serious setbacks, Title VI is adapting in new and important ways to the shifting landscape of civil rights in the 21st Century.” Click here for “New Frontiers for Title VI”  by the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.

Another billionaire v the people of California over beach access Editorial LA Times

August 13th, 2014

martins beach

California Coastal Commission Survey Exhibit

South of Half Moon Bay, billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is fighting the [the people of California,] California Coastal Commission and the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group, over a half-mile road that snakes across his 53-acre rural property.  The road is the only dry land access from Highway 1 to what’s known as Martins Beach. Since the 1920s, people have walked or driven it to the beach to fish, surf and swim. The previous owners even did a little business with the beachgoers, charging for parking, running a convenience store near the shoreline and maintaining restrooms.

Khosla, who bought the property in 2008 for $32.5 million but does not live on it, says he initially kept the road open but closed it intermittently — as, he says, the previous owners did.  But in 2009, he ran afoul of San Mateo County officials who said the access was intended to be year-round, and ordered him to keep the gate open or apply for a permit to do otherwise. Khosla went to court.  A San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled that Khosla should either get permission to close the gate or work out an alternative.  Instead, Khosla closed the gate and halted all public access. . . .

Up and down California, public access is constantly under siege as beachfront property owners battle with the Coastal Commission over pathways, parking, decks and fire rings.  .  .  .

The reason the pathway should stay open is that the public has been using it for nearly 100 years. The Coastal Commission has begun a survey to make a case that the public has “prescriptive rights” to it by virtue of that long tradition. Already, dozens of beachgoers have submitted declarations documenting — sometimes with photos — their use and their families’ use of the pathway going back to the 1920s.

The road should not be closed. . . . Property owners in the California coastal zone do not have an automatic right to tamper with the public’s access to the water.

Read the complete editorial in the Los Angeles Times . . .

The City Project has worked with diverse allies for over a decade to Free the Beach! and keep public trails open for all. See, for example:

Robert García and Erica Flores Baltodano, Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 143 (2005)

Saving the Native American Sacred Site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach, The Acjachemen Victory, L.A. Times Editorial, December 27, 2008

Bali Hoi Polloi: Public Gains Entry at Geffen’s Beachhead, Washington Post, May 26, 2005

Celebrating the African American Resort at Bruce’s Beach 2007

Keeping Historic Altadena trails free for all, Los Angeles County v La Viña Homeowners Association 2009

Keeping Historic Canyonback Trails Free for All 2006

40th Anniversary Nixon Resigns David Kennedy NY Times

August 13th, 2014

Détente with the Soviet Union and the fabled “opening to China” were of a single geopolitical piece, the complementary halves of a bold American grand strategy to transform the entire architecture of international politics. As Nixon bathed in the warm applause in the Capitol on that heady June day, he had every reason to contemplate the future with settled confidence and supreme satisfaction.

Seldom has pride so preening preceded a fall so far. Less than three weeks later, in the small hours of June 17, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate complex in Washington noticed evidence of an illegal entry and called the police. They quickly arrested five burglars attempting to bug the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Investigators soon linked the burglars to the Republican Committee to Re-elect the President. Smelling a conspiracy whose stench might reach all the way to the White House, United States District Judge John Sirica pressured the Watergate defendants to rat out their bosses. The press, notably Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, probed the murky matter ever more deeply. A special prosecutor began an investigation. A select Senate committee initiated widely televised hearings to determine “what the president knew and when he knew it.” Then in July 1973, Alexander Butterfield, the deputy chief of staff, stunningly revealed that Nixon had installed a secret taping system in the White House, in his Executive Office Building suite and at Camp David.

Eventually released under Supreme Court order, the tapes wrought Nixon’s doom. Most damning was the infamous “smoking gun” conversation on June 23, 1972, just six days after the Watergate break-in, when Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, brazenly discussed ordering the C.I.A. to block any further F.B.I. investigation — clearly implicating the president in criminal obstruction of justice, and giving the lie to his repeated and strenuous denials of involvement. The House Judiciary Committee began to draw up articles of impeachment. Republican elders told the president in no uncertain terms that the jig was up. Nixon relinquished the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974, 40 years ago yesterday. The first president since World War II to visit the Soviet Union, the first ever to visit Communist China, he was also the first to be forced to resign.

Read the rest of this book review by Stanford Prof. David Kennedy “On the Record: ‘The Nixon Tapes 1971-1972’ and ‘The Nixon Defense’” in the New York Times . . .

Two Development Projects Threaten Grand Canyon NY Times

August 12th, 2014

Teddy Roosevelt in 1903 delivered a speech on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:

“I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it, in your own interest and in the interest of the country — keep this great wonder of nature as it now is,” Roosevelt declared. “I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

This summer the canyon confronts the threat of two development projects that some are calling one of the most serious threats in the 95-year history of Grand Canyon National Park.

Read the op/ed “A Cathedral Under Siege” by Kevin Fedarko in the New York Times . . .

Grand Canyon 2011

The road to Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice 3 minute video by EPA and heroes of the movement

August 6th, 2014

“We gave birth to a conversation that people would recognize as their own. We gave it a language. We gave it words. We gave it a science base. We gave it a public policy base. And we gave it a base that was rooted in the power and mobilization of the people on the ground. So it couldn’t be denied.” Vernice Miller Travis, Skeo Solutions and NEJAC

US EPA produced this  three minute video with heroes of the movement describing the origins of the environmental justice movement and the adoption of the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice.

For more information visit

SPARC Sprucing up L.A.’s Great Wall L.A. Times, Aug. 2, 2014

August 4th, 2014

SPARC Sprucing Up L.A.'s Great Wall L.A. Times August 2, 2014

Click on the image for more on the Great Wall of Los Angeles

SPARC Team Gives the Great Wall of Los Angeles a Bubble Bath!

August 1st, 2014











SPARC Bubble Bath Team


Sam the Man and SPARC Intern Sam Garcia