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Families Displaced By Dodger Stadium Start Official Petition for Reparations and Other Demands

As L.A. celebrates a kick-ass 2022 Dodgers team and a weekend of sold-out Fluffy shows at Dodgers Stadium this past weekend, a growing movement seeks to bring uncomfortable truths into the light and demand retribution from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

“Displacers” stickers are being spotted from Santa Monica and Highland Park to Brooklyn, Seattle, and Indianapolis. An online petition has just been served to the city, demanding justice for the forced removal of Mexican, Mexican-American, and indigenous families from the communities of Palo Verde, Bishop, and La Loma, where Dodger Stadium now sits.

The organizers are banded together under the non-profit banner of Buried Under the Blue, “made up of grandparents, parents, and descendants that survived the brutal destruction of our three barrios and historical trauma that has been passed down from generation to generation.” It seeks to spread awareness of the mandatory removal of the entire population, said to be about 1,800 families, of the stolen land now known as Chavez Ravine under the behest of the municipal government, and wants justice for the compulsorily displaced families.

The 10-year-old “Battle of Chavez Ravine” met its conclusion 63 years ago yesterday when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department forcibly removed and arrested the area’s last remaining landowner. The 352 acres of  land had initially been taken over by the city through agreed-upon purchases and through powers of eminent domain pending the construction of public housing, which was later scrapped under an opposed new mayor, and then used to entice the Brooklyn Dodgers to L.A.

Melissa Arechiga founder of Buried Under the Blue a website and group made up of families and descents of families who were displaced better known as the removal of Chavez Ravine stands holding a "Displacers" flag. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Melissa Arechiga founder of Buried Under the Blue a website and group made up of families and descents of families who were displaced better known as the removal of Chavez Ravine stands holding a "Displacers" flag. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

The organization lays out its mission statement online:

Buried under the Blue’s mission statement is to preserve our history of our three destroyed communities of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop through an indigenous platform bridging the public to the past and present through historical context, oral history, education, community services, community building, environmental justice, and technology. To empower and educate all people to create healthier communities, sustainable communities, and maintain historical documents for self-determination.

Buried Under the Blue released part one of a documentary called The Dark History of Dodger Stadium three weeks ago, sharing history, photos, and memories of the three neighborhoods that made up today’s Chavez Ravine and revisiting the fight to save it.

Spending time on the organization’s social media helps pierce the dark blue veil thrown up by sports teams like the Dodgers to gin up local fervor and pride in its Mexican-American fanbase for what is essentially a pipeline to corporate profits.

Sacred L.A. cows like Fernando Valenzuela, Magic Johnson, and Fluffy, the nickname of Long Beach-raised comedian Gabriel Iglesias, are skewered to show fans how tools of Latinidad and synthetic civic pride can be used to obfuscate the Dodgers Organization’s alleged crimes against Latinos and Indigenous Angelenos. Fluffy gets it direct, accused of “selling out the indigenous Mexican people of Los Angeles” in one post that shows his face crossed out.

“Why think blue when you are brown?” Several Instagram posts ask. Similarly, the organization’s tagline urges, “Think Brown, Not Blue,” while another post says, “Viva La Raza! Not Viva los Dodgers!”

Last fall, three activists ran onto the field of Dodger Stadium with signs showing the names of the erased neighborhoods and were quickly subdued by stadium security, while a banner was unfurled to read #NotChavezRavine. Other signs seen in protest of Dodger Stadium at Dodger Stadium read #Kizh, the historic name for natives of this land now commonly referred to as Gabrieleño.

Photo by Hadley Tomicki.
photo: Hadley Tomicki

Buried Under the Blue’s petition describes this stolen land as “described by our ancestors as one giant rancho with one giant familia.” It also merges the fight to recognize the shameful displacement of people with today’s current fight against gentrification in neighborhoods of color, saying:

The 3 barrios are very important to the history of our past and even the present day with our communities still being destroyed by racist housing policies and corporations like the Dodgers who invest the money you spend on your tickets for the game they use your money to buy properties in your barrios that drive up your rents causing gentrification, Your own money is being used to kick you out GENTE WAKE UP! The last of our communities like Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Hollenbeck, Elysian Valley, Chinatown, South Central,  and really any community of color are being destroyed just like Palo Verde La Loma and Bishop to make way for corporations.

The petition, which has 48 signatures at this time, makes the following demands:

    • We demand a public apology for the destruction of our three communities and the robbing of generational wealth from the people of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop.
    • We demand reparations from the following agencies that destroyed our three communities and robbed the generational wealth of the people of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop. The reparations will include both homeowners and renters.
    • We demand that a federal, state, and city, recognized and erect a historical monument be in the memory of the three destroyed communities Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop and its people. The monument shall be located in the area of the 3 communities or the Palo Verde elementary school.
    • We demand that three community centers be created under the buried under the blue non-profit 501c3 in memory of the three destroyed communities of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop. The three community centers will each carry one of the names of the three destroyed communities. We demand that they be funded by your Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Supervisors, and the city of Los Angeles.

As Dodger fans, it’s important to hold our team’s organization responsible for any wrongdoing, whether it be, say, employing sexual predators as starting pitchers, or this well-known, well-documented, and shameful history of our stadium, where good memories of great games too often overshadow real ghosts and actual crimes of the not-so-distant past.

It looks clear that no matter what happens this season and beyond, Buried Under the Blue will fight to make sure we don’t forget what really happened to the people and land of La Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop. And that the Dodgers won't either.

Find the full petition right here.

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