‘Robert García . . . organized a civil rights challenge under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination in federally funded programs. He filed his complaint with HUD, which was providing loan guarantees to Majestic and helping pay for environmental cleanup. García argued that the fight for the Cornfield was part of the historic struggle for low-income people of color in Los Angeles to find livable communities with parks, playgrounds, schools, and recreation. Garcia cited the eviction of Latinos from Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium and the relocation of Chinese families to make way for Union Station as examples of communities of color dislocated in the name of larger development goals. The Cornfield was not only a matter of environmental importance, but a matter of social justice. . . .
García lauds the victory — “This kicked off the green justice movement in Los Angeles,” he says — but laments the speed (or lack thereof) in development. “It’s been 17 years and that’s a long time in a life of a child without access to a park.” García adds that Cornfield Park is not the park he fought for because of the gentrification that has happened since 2001. “Since then, the people who lived in the neighborhood can’t afford to live and work nearby.”’
The KCET article warrants further comment: García and Senator Tom Hayden helped persuade HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to cut off federal funding for the warehouse proposal in a call the day before HUD acted on the civil rights complaint.
Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, and other people of color and low income people have been instrumental leaders in the park and green justice movement.
The green justice movement led to L.A. State Historic Park, Río de L.A. State Park, Baldwin Hills Park, L.A. River revitalization, and billions of dollars more in park, water, and resource ballot measures. Voters of color and low income voters are among the biggest supporters of such measures.
Learn more about the civil rights and environmental justice victory at L.A. State Historic Park.
WAPOW Magazine is a free, bilingual community quarterly magazine that focuses on news and culture in Los Angeles Chinatown.