This Saturday, members of various anti-gentrification groups and some people who just happened to be out drinking ran out the Proud Boys from The Griffin, a bar in Atwater Village. I was present and witnessed an interaction that lead into a scuffle. Management refused to help remove them and opted to ultimately shut the venue down as police arrived. This was not an official or planned DSA-LA or NOlympics LA or Defend NELA action but, rather, a spontaneous reaction to reports that white supremacists were openly celebrating in a neighborhood tavern in a liberal-leaning neighborhood.
It’s no coincidence that the individuals who shut down this two-bit fascist party all work in anti-gentrification groups. The Griffin — along with many, many other businesses — has been whitewashing the Atwater neighborhood for ages (refusing people of color through a “no sports hat” policy or condoning and committing overt racism inside), and that is why white nationalists felt comfortable and confident holding their meetup at a place like The Griffin in the first place. The neighborhood has transformed over the past two decades from a middle and working class Chicano community into a white, bourgie enclave in a relatively short amount of time, driven by gentrification and displacement.
Gentrification is another tool of white supremacy. It moves slowly but is nonetheless protracted violence on our communities. Groups like Defend Boyle Heights have been staging anti-gentrification, anti-supremacist actions and proving that direct action and confrontation can be effective in repelling this force. Gentrification’s endgame — like the Proud Boys’ — is to erase poor working people of color. Anyone who is shocked or appalled that the Proud Boys were in their backyards have not been paying attention to LA’s astoundingly racist history. Their presence in Atwater Village was not an aberration but, rather, a symptom of a much deeper reality that we all must confront.
A line was drawn — a very clean and easy one to identify and acknowledge — that fascists should not be allowed to openly assemble in our neighborhoods in Los Angeles. One can only hope this leads to a rooting out of these people (and the businesses who enable them) from our communities as well as a deeper discussion on all the ways white supremacy already has its tentacles wrapped around us and how we can fight back. Without broadening the scope to recognize how we got here, we’re destined to continue carrying water for fascists.