Activists are demanding reparations for land in the Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles that currently sits under Dodger Stadium, part of a broader movement across California that has focused thus far on African Americans.
The New York Times reported Wednesday on “the growing call for reparations from descendants of the people who lived where Dodger Stadium was built.” It cited reporting earlier this month by Jesus Jiménez, who wrote:
[I]n the early 1950s, the city of Los Angeles began displacing the residents of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop, through voluntary purchases and eminent domain, with plans to build a housing project in the area.
It was never built, and eventually, after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, the team acquired the deed to the land. A condition was that the team build a stadium with capacity for at least 50,000 people.
The last of the families were forcefully evicted by sheriff’s deputies in May 1959. One woman, Aurora Vargas, who was known as Lola, was infamously photographed being carried out of her home by deputies. An article in The Los Angeles Times on May 9, 1959, described the scene as a “long skirmish.” Vargas was kicking and screaming and children were “wailing hysterically,” the newspaper reported.
The activists formed an organization in 2018 called Buried Under the Blue. They drew encouragement from the successful effort to obtain restitution for the original black owners of Bruce’s Beach. As Breitbart News noted:
The owners, Willa and Charles Bruce, purchased the land in 1912 and created a beach resort catering to black clients before the city used eminent domain to seize the property.
The land was dormant for decades until the city built a park in 1960 and later renamed it Bruce’s Beach. Descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce sued, claiming the eminent domain program was racially motivated.
The website for Buried Under the Blue states that the group’s mission is “to preserve our history of our three destroyed communities” and “[t]o empower and educate all people to create healthier communities, sustainable communities, and maintain historical documents for self-determination.” While the Times describes the group as “Latino,” the website refers to the former inhabitants of the area under Dodger Stadium as “indigenous.”