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Nonprofit Calling For Reparations For Displaced Residents Of Chavez Ravine

In a black and white photo, multiple Chavez Ravine residents , most middle aged and some elderly, hold up paper signs protesting the displacements. Some signs say “We Must Keep Our Homes” and “Small Property Owners of America”. They stand in a crowd towards the right, next to a portly man in thick black glasses and slicked back hair. He cheery demeanor is juxtaposed by the angry and concerned faces in the between the crowd and the nan is an American flag.
A group called Buried Under the Blue has created an online petition pushing the city to publicly apologize for the forceful displacement of Chavez Ravine in the 1950s.
(Herald-Examiner Collection/ Los Angeles Public Library Collection )
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The nonprofit Buried Under the Blue is demanding reparations for descendants of the residents of three primarily Latino communities who were displaced in the 1950s to make way for public housing that was never built. Years later, the land was used to build Dodger Stadium.

By the end of the so-called “Battle of Chavez Ravine,” thousands of people from the L.A. communities of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop were displaced by the city through eminent domain.

The nonprofit’s Vincent Montalvo says his grandparents lived in Palo Verde and still mourn the loss of their community:

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“They would tell me somebody hurt, we hurt .… in Spanish, they said you're one giant familia on one giant rancho, so one giant family on one giant ranch. So they brought those traditions from Mexico into those three communities to embrace each other.”

The nonprofit is also calling for a public apology and a historical monument “in … memory of the three destroyed communities.”

Though the neighborhood was self-sufficient, with its own grocery store, churches and businesses, outsiders saw it as a blighted slum that needed to be redeveloped.

When the city tried to push Chavez Ravine residents to sell their homes, many resisted.

In the early 1950s, the city began offering immediate cash payments to residents for their property. For those who did not accept, less money was offered and residents feared that if they held out, they wouldn't get a fair price.

In other cases, officials used the power of eminent domain to acquire plots of land and force residents out of their homes. When they did, they typically lowballed homeowners, offering them far less money than their land was worth. The city intended to build public housing on the site, but critics labeled it as socialism and managed to kill the project. A few families remained on the site when the Dodgers came to town looking for a place to build a stadium.

A few hundred people have already signed the online petition to push forth calls for reparations and accountability from the city.

We’ve reached out to representatives of the city and the Dodgers for comment, but have not heard back yet.

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