“Leimert Park is a phenomenon, nothing but a phenomenon. Like Central Avenue was a phenomenon; Harlem was a Black phenomenon. Itâ€™s where people gathered. It had all of this energy. It became a bright light where it should not have been. And, look, what people donâ€™t recognize is that even South Central is a well of energy.” Richard Fulton, owner of Fifth Street Dickâ€™s Coffee House
Leimert Park Village in Los Angeles has been a center for Black artists and culture for some time now. Leimert is more than just a retail zone, for many, it’s a cultural home.
However, and we’ve heard this story before – artists move into a dying area, turn it into something creative, and bring the area back to life. After a bit, the buildings get bought by people unconcerned or uncaring about the culture that has been so carefully nurtured and built up. Rents soar, the current tenants can no longer afford it, and stores and artists get evicted. Good bye home grown culture. Hello Starbucks. That’s what’s happening in Leimert now. Someone bought a building, jacked up the rents, and is evicting long time tenants.
From the L.A. Times
It’s like something is dying,” said Ramsess, whose rent went from $1,000 to $2,300 a month. “The flavor of the street will change. With these rents, the only businesses I can see opening up in here are salons and wig shops, nothing artistic.”
“The new owners are not interested in anything other than receiving the rent,” said Laura Hendrix, president of the Leimert Park Merchants Assn. “We wrote a letter to them to let them know they didn’t just invest in a building, they invested in a community that is proud and moving forward.”
Hendrix said that the merchants set up a meeting for next month with Mayor James K. Hahn in the hopes that he would intervene by bringing together the new owners and shopkeepers to discuss what can be done to preserve the area. But others plan to hold on to their roots, saying they will fight to stay, not wanting to see Leimert Park Village fade as a center of black life.
There was a rally today in Leimert Park, the first of many I’m sure. Yes, people are organizing to stop the evictions. What they need most of all is media coverage and lots of it, so everyone, spread the word.
Save Leimert Park!