By NATHAN SOLIS
Highland Park — You could call it public performance art or you could call it a protest. Last Saturday, members of the North East Los Angeles Alliance marched down the sidewalks of York Boulevard as well as Figueroa Street, posting “eviction” notices on the storefronts of businesses “for not complying with the needs of the working class.” The protest against displacement and gentrification targeted a number of newer businesses that have come to symbolize the demographic and economic changes sweeping across the neighborhood. We have collected responses from employees, owners and the landlords of these businesses.
— the new YORK BLVD (@TheNewYorkBlvd) November 9, 2014
Mark Trombino, owner of Donut Friend
Yolanda Noguiera, landlord of Café de Leche
I haven’t personally experienced any animosity from residents of the neighborhood [before]. We regularly donate to local schools and fundraisers, and we hire people that actually live in Highland Park. I might be a little biased, but I think we are a much better addition to the neighborhood than the massage parlor we replaced.”
I came out and had a conversation with some of the protesters. I let them know that the building has been Latino owned for several generations. And the protesters were looking at me like I was crazy. My father’s business has been here for years. I told them to ask their parents, because they probably know the history of the building. And Anya and Matt (Schodorf) work hard here. The protesters were nice for the most part. I feel for them though. It’s certainly a changing face in the neighborhood. Their protest could also be a reflection on the residential changes in the neighborhood, the evictions there.”
Gerri, General Manager of The York on York
I’ve been living and working in this neighborhood for the past 8 years. Gentrification has made York Boulevard and surrounding areas safer to walk down, more enjoyable and more lively. Everyone we employ at The York lives in NELA. We are trying to help the community. I don’t have a clue as to why we are targeted.”
Mateo Glassman, owner of The Greyhound Bar & Grill
After they came down to Figueroa and started protesting us, I got really hurt. I mean, the only reason we opened here was because of the community. There are a lot of great neighborhoods, we just loved the people here and wanted to open something we thought the neighborhood wanted. And after ten months, we were right! The neighborhood has been amazing. So why were they out picketing our business? We work so damn hard to make this place tick, and now we have to defend ourselves against people that have clearly never been here or have some other ax to grind that has nothing to do with the product we sell but what we look like? It hurt a lot.”
Zane Landreth – Mount Analog
Honestly, it was a real bummer, and I bet that most of the folks involved in the protest would really like the shop.”
The Eastsider reached out to the North East Los Angeles Alliance for comment, but did not hear back in time for this deadline.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.