East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice info@eycej.org 323.263.2113

CEMEX & Bell vs. The People

The Vote – City of Bell Approves Settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Alicia Romero – Motion to approve settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Ali Saleh – 2nd motion to approve settlement with CEMEX
Mayor Fidencio Gallardo – Voted to approve settlement with CEMEX
Vice Mayor Ana Maria Quintana – Voted against settlement with CEMEX
Councilmember Nestor Valencia – Voted against settlement with CEMEX
The Bell & CEMEX Settlement:
We heard testimony that CEMEX can make up to $70 million a year at the site, so when the City of Bell settles for $400k a year, we know they will not prioritize utilizing these funds to mitigate the impacts on our health from this project. This is nowhere near enough money to protect our health from the impacts at the CEMEX site. This feels like a payoff, selling out our communities because the City of Bell is fiscally vulnerable after years of city mismanagement and malfeasance.
As the City of Bell settles, we prepare to continue the fight in the courtroom. Keep an eye out for updates on our lawsuit against the City of Bell and CEMEX.
The Real Disappointment of the Night:
Unfortunately, at this point many of us expect elected officials to want to do wrong by us, so we fight. At this point we expect companies to target our communities as a dumping ground, so we fight. At this point we expect government agencies who are supposed to protect us to fail, so we fight.
What is heartbreaking is when we witness residents come out to a public meeting to say they don’t care that we are being contaminated, say we should be used to it, say we should accept more pollution since our communities are already filled with it, say they don’t care about the surrounding communities of Bell Gardens, Maywood, Commerce and East LA that will be impacted as long as Bell gets some money, all seemingly to support their preferred political friend or family member. We received communications that residents were being intentionally misinformed and told lies about East Yard and our motivations by Bell Councilmembers. Unfortunately, at this point many of us expect elected officials to mislead members of our communities for their own political gain and to provide cover when they are harming our communities, SO WE FIGHT!!!
We build power in our communities because we recognize the best leader is someone who will follow the lead of our communities. Someone who will prioritize our health and well being.

Remembering Sandra Johnson

A couple of weeks ago community members from Long Beach, especially West Long Beach celebrated the life of Sandra Johnson.  Celebrated Sandra’s life and mourned the community’s lost.  Sandra has transitioned and past on.
Sandra was a great mentor to many, a true community leader and a fierce defender of justice. It was no surprise to see in the backdrop of Sandra’s services at the Buddhist Center, a large image of a Lion with text stating Lions of Justice. When I think about Sandra there is no other image that is more suiting then a Lion of Justice.
I first meet Sandra in 2009 when the community was waging its defense against BNSF and its proposed SCIG rail yard that would inflict harm on the neighborhood. Sandra came to EYCEJ with a clear plan and executed it. She mentored and mobilized community members and when needed stood up to some of the meanest Ironworkers in defense of her community.
Long Beach is a better place because of Sandra’s life work in the community and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice is stronger because of her. May her spirit be with us as we push on for justice.

Hace un par de semanas, los miembros de la comunidad de Long Beach, especialmente West Long Beach, celebraban la vida de Sandra Johnson. Celebró la vida de Sandra y lamentó la pérdida de la comunidad. Sandra ha hecho la transición y ha pasado.
Sandra fue una gran mentora para muchos, un verdadero líder de la comunidad y un feroz defensor de la justicia. No fue una sorpresa ver en el telón de fondo los servicios de Sandra en el Centro Budista, una gran imagen de un León con texto que indica Leones de la Justicia. Cuando pienso en Sandra no hay otra imagen que sea más adecuada que un León de la Justicia.
La primera vez que me encontré con Sandra fue en 2009 cuando la comunidad estaba defendiendo a BNSF y su patio de ferrocarriles SCIG propuesto, lo que infligiría daños al vecindario. Sandra vino a EYCEJ con un plan claro y lo ejecutó. Fue mentora y movilizó a los miembros de la comunidad y, cuando fue necesario, se enfrentó a algunos de los Iron Iron más mezquinos en defensa de su comunidad.
Long Beach es un lugar mejor debido al trabajo de toda la vida de Sandra en la comunidad y East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice es más fuerte gracias a ella. Que su espíritu esté con nosotros mientras seguimos adelante por la justicia.

A Note from Xugo to our community

Hello everyone!
I have big news for all!
I will be transitioning out of my role as SELA / ELA Community Organizer.
This does not mean that I will be leaving East Yards. 
This means that I will be shifting my role as staff and into a active member. 
The fight for the survival of our community will always remain my focus and I do not intend on drifting from our work. I am, however, choosing to fuse my dedication to environmental justice in communities of color and my drive to develop an empowering education. I hope to one day become a high school teacher bridging the needs of our community and its curriculum from k-12. 
It has been more than a privilege for all of you to allow me to facilitate our organizing in SELA / ELA areas. We achieved so much together.
We have seen membership spaces sprout from many neighborhoods. From Commerce, we grew into East LA, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Maywood, South Gate, Bell, ect..
We have seen youth power grow from Commerce into Bell Gardens, East LA, Lynwood, Long Beach becoming a fully powerful community all its own seeing them fearlessly demand respect from school districts, mayors, cities in multi layered issues of race, class, and gender.
We have worked within our strengths and passions identifying needs and creating projects like our Zumba classes, Ride On All Roads, and La Cosecha Colectiva. Bridging our healing from the inside to holding contaminating companies accountable for their impacts on our communities. 
From our knowledge, we saw the emergence of the Fighting for Life Academy and the Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative.
We build power, force accountability and respect from state agencies, cities, governors, mayors, and powerful industries. 
We have and continue to fight for the dignity and respect we are inherently born with. 
We have achieved all of this together yet the most important is that we did all this by building each other and knowing that an investment in each other, is an investment in all of us. 
With every project and action we took, I am reminded of what we can accomplish it if we look within each other, identify what is needed, and build our own solutions outside of what we are given.
I am grateful for your teachings. 
I am grateful for your demands.
I am grateful for your fearlessness.
I am grateful for your anger. 
and I am grateful that we dare to imagine a world where living in communities of color does not cost us a decade of life. 
In closing this cycle of my role within EYCEJ Team, I would like to honor Marina Uranga Pando for her role and energy still present in our movement. I hope to continue to carry your same corazon y orgullo.
As many of you know, our work is very deep rooted in the essence of who I am and is reflected in every story I share with everyone.
I will continue in this beautiful struggle with you all. 
See you all at the next member meeting!


¡Hola a todos!
Tengo grandes noticias!
Estaré saliendo de mi rol de Organizador Comunitario en Sur Este y Este de Los Angeles.
Esto no significa que vaya a hir de East Yards.
Esto significa que voy a estar cambiando mi papel como personal a un rol de miembro activo.
La lucha por la supervivencia de nuestra comunidad siempre será mi enfoque y no tengo la intención de derivar de nuestro trabajo. Sin embargo, estoy eligiendo fusionar mi dedicación a la justicia ambiental en las comunidades de color y mi impulso para desarrollar una educación de empoderamiento. Espero que algún día convertirme en un maestro de escuela secundaria que cubra las necesidades de nuestra comunidad y su currículo desde k-12.
Ha sido más que un privilegio para todos ustedes permitirme facilitar nuestra organización en áreas del SELA / ELA. Hemos logrado tanto juntos.
Hemos visto que los espacios de membresía brotar de muchos barrios. Desde Commerce, crecimos en East LA, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Maywood, South Gate, Bell, etc.
Hemos visto que el poder de la juventud crecer en la Ciudades de Commerce, Bell Gardens, al Este de Los Ángeles, Lynwood, y Long Beach, convirtiéndose en una comunidad completamente poderosa. Hemos visto a los jovenes exigir el respeto y demandar accion de los distritos escolares, alcaldes y ciudades en cuestiones de raza, clase y género.
Hemos trabajado dentro de nuestras fortalezas y pasiones para identificar necesidades y crear proyectos como nuestras clases de Zumba, Ride On All Roads y La Cosecha Colectiva. Conectando nuestra curación desde el interior a las demandas que empresas contaminantes sean responsables de sus impactos en nuestras comunidades.
Desde nuestro conocimiento, vimos el surgimiento de la Academia Fighting for Life y la Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative.
Construimos poder, obligamos a rendir cuentas y respeto de agencias estatales, ciudades, gobernadores, alcaldes y poderosas industrias.
Tenemos y seguimos luchando por la dignidad y el respeto con los que nacemos de manera inherente.
Hemos logrado todo esto juntos, pero lo más importante es que hicimos todo esto construyéndonos unos a otros y sabiendo que una inversión en el otro, es una inversión en todos nosotros.
Con cada proyecto y acción que tomamos, me recuerdo lo que podemos lograr si miramos dentro de sí, identificamos lo que se necesita y construimos nuestras propias soluciones fuera de lo que se nos dan.
Estoy agradecido por sus enseñanzas.
Estoy agradecido por sus demandas.
Estoy agradecido por su audacia.
Estoy agradecido por su ira.
y estoy agradecido de que nos atrevemos a imaginar un mundo donde vivir en comunidades de color no nos cuesta una década de vida.
Para cerrar este ciclo de mi papel en el equipo de EYCEJ, quisiera rendir homenaje a Marina Uranga Pando por su papel y energía aún presentes en nuestro movimiento. Espero seguir llevando tu mismo corazon y orgullo.
Igualmente quiciera rendir respeto a todos los miembros, especialmente, Youth in Action, Adultos de Este de Los Angeles, Commerce y Lynwood de EYCEJ por su energia y entendimiento que todos llevamos parte de esta organizacion y en si la responsabilidad de avansarla juntos. 
Como muchos de ustedes saben, nuestro trabajo está profundamente arraigado en la esencia de quien soy y se refleja en cada historia que comparto con todos.
Continuaré en esta hermosa lucha con todos nosotros.
¡Nos vemos a todos en la próxima reunión de miembros!

EYCEJ Statement on the state EJ in CA


Cap & Trade, Air Quality, & Environmental Justice


Right now, a major fight is taking place in the Capitol – the extension of the Cap and Trade Program coupled with an Air Quality ‘improvement’ bill. A large and important bill package that on its surface appears to be a victory for environmental and climate justice advocates across the State. East Yards is calling a spade a spade and voicing our opposition to these bills.

While no one will (or should) argue that we do not need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously supporting emission reductions in the local communities most impacted by poor air quality, neither of these bills (AB 398 and AB 617) get at the core of solving our most entrenched environmental and environmental justice issues – and in some cases make matters worse and our struggle for environmental justice that much harder. These bills are major concessions to the oil industry – and our communities will be worse off should they pass. (Communities for a Better Environment created a brief breakdown of the most egregious bill language here, and our letter of opposition here).

We have been working\ with our partners at Earthjustice and CCAEJ to ensure that our communities’ needs are at the forefront of the conversations to shape environmental legislation. But it’s the likes of Jerry Brown and liberal politics that so often sacrifice the most vulnerable among us in order to gain political capital through top-down, non-transparent processes under the guise of progressiveness. At the end of the day, we who live next to rail yards, warehouses, refineries, and transportation corridors bare the worst consequences from bad policies – and this is no exception.

Time and time again, we are told that things will get better, our issues will get fixed, and we can trust people to do what they say they will do. We’ve got handfuls of IOU’s.

To the Governor – don’t come down to our hood, eat our tortas, profess to care about our issues, then turn around and serve us a steaming pile. The Pro Tem should be equally ashamed and embarrassed to be pushing this as a monumental achievement, knowing full well that his constituents will be severely impacted, as well as the advocacy groups that make cries for unity but turn around to support terrible policies to save face.

We don’t need fake allies. We don’t need more broken promises. And we definitely don’t need any more policies that will severely impact our already overburdened communities. We need real solutions, and beyond that, we need accountability. We acknowledge the hard work many organizations have put into the Cap and Trade process over the years, including several of our partners, and don’t want to diminish their efforts into forming these policies. But our communities are fighting for the right to breathe with dignity; we don’t have the luxury or privilege of accepting mediocrity.

To the Youth In Action clubs of 2017

Youth have always pushed the boundaries of our movement, and dared to envision and bring to life our wildest freedom dreams–this year’s Youth in Action members were no different. From defending their school to defending their community, they have all taken their leadership to the next level. We are immensely proud, humbled and thankful to build community and witness their power.

The following speech was written by Eddie Lopez, our teacher sponsor in Bell Gardens, we would like to extend the gratitude Lopez expressed to Bell Garden’s youth to all our Youth in Action members in Long Beach, Lynwood and East Los Angeles and to all the youth in the struggle across the globe.

#WeAreJustTryingToBreathe #YouthInAction


Thank you for your support in these trying and confusing times. Words cannot convey the gratitude and emotions that are in my heart and soul, it is greatly appreciated. Being in education is a thankless job in many respects, especially as we have seen with the turmoil of layoffs, insufficient communication from board members, district officials, teachers and the public.  The most satisfactory aspect, from my perspective, is the support of students, especially to those who have taken to non-violent demonstrations, practicing their constitutional rights. As stated by the ACLU attorney Michael Hannon defending the East LA 13 in the aftermath of the East LA Blowouts, “The demonstration is a poor man’s printed press and his right to do so, it is as important as the right of a rich man’s newspaper or our talk of free speech is just a mockery.”

A student stated to me about the demonstration, “What is the point, it doesn’t matter.” What is the point, IT DOES MATTER, in regards to social movements, demonstrating, creating real change in society begins with one person. And it spreads like wildfire from one person to the next, and so on, and so on. That is the point, TO BE HEARD  and to churn AGAINST the wheels of opposition.

As Martin Luther King surmised in “I Have a Dream,” “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

Or as Dolores Huerta stated, “Don’t be a marshmallow, walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk. Stop being vegetables. Work for justice.”

And finally Emma Goldman, “The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.”

Demonstrations have led to social movements: Women’s suffrage, the great uprising (female garment workers strike in New York 1909, 1910) African-American Civil Rights Movement, Chicano and Puerto Rican Civil Rights Movement, Unions, Socialist Movement and Strikes during the Great Depression (1933-1938), Feminist Movement, Environmental Movement, American Indian Movement, Blowouts in East Los Aneles, Against Vietnam, Chicano Moratorium, Farm Workers (UFW), LGBTQ, Occupy and countless others. These movements have altered the fabric of these United States. Without demonstrations causes remain invisible, absent from the public view, an amnesia pervades, with invisibility no one realizes there is a problem, a history, a better beginning, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Again thank you, to those with a fighting spirit, that took chance of being uncomfortable and using parts of themselves they didn’t know existed.

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mark! Lopez 2017 Goldman Prize Winner

mark! Lopez, Member & Executive Director of EYCEJ, is a community leader, a father, and the 2017 North American recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize. mark!, 31, was born and raised in a family of activists where community organizing is a culture. mark! attended his earliest protests and marches as a young child, along with his parents and grandparents. Family time often included door-to-door canvassing, community mural painting, and press conferences.

mark! temporarily left Los Angeles to pursue a degree in environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz—an arm’s length away from home where he gave himself the space to learn and sharpen the tools of the family trade. He remained active in community organizing on campus, where he advocated for service workers’ rights and pushed for student of color recruitment and retention.

Shortly after his return from college in 2008, during one of his regular visits to his grandparents’ house, his grandmother gave him a public notice that had just arrived in the mail. It was about an upcoming government agency meeting about the Exide battery smelter. She said, “Hey, you know, Exide is still right here.” mark! became the third generation in his family in the two decade Exide struggle, and the facility’s closure in 2015 ensured his daughters don’t become the fourth generation of his family in this fight.

mark! continues to contribute to the legacy of fighting environmental racism in his and our communities, and through EYCEJ he hopes to continue working with his community to push even further against the injustices we face. One thing mark! understands is critical now is community investment for community change.

So we ask you to please consider contributing to our fight, and donate to EYCEJ. Every dollar is invested in the continued education and leadership development of our members, supporting our community movement, and bringing resources to our neighborhoods through innovative programs.


mark! Lopez, age six, stands with his family in the struggle to protect our communities

Follow mark! and all of his work by following his work by looking at his public page here.




We, the hundreds of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice members from East LA, Southeast LA and Long Beach, will not support forcing our communities to pay a tax to indefinitely fund the environmental racism that has affected us for generations. We repeat, WE WILL NOT SUPPORT FORCING OUR COMMUNITIES TO PAY A TAX TO INDEFINITELY FUND THE ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM THAT HAS AFFECTED US FOR GENERATIONS.

Unless equity and meaningful public participation are a fundamental part of all funding and planning, for all transportation projects/policies/measures/propositions or otherwise, any effort will reinforce and reproduce the injustices we have been fighting for generations.

While Measure M promises to make everyone’s commute better, our communities face the threat of increasing contamination from fossil fuel trucks and cars, while others will get cleaner air in their communities through public transportation and active transportation investments.

We already carry a disproportionate toxic burden in the region, with 8 freeways (10, 710, 60, 5, 105, 91, 405, TI Freeway) in our communities handling local, regional, interstate and international traffic.

We already carry a disproportionate toxic burden for the nation, with the Ports in our communities handling 40% of the nation’s imported goods, which look like 40,000-60,000 truck trips in our communities daily, along with multiple railyards pushing trains from our communities out to the rest of the nation.

Our communities have carried a toxic burden for the Western United States, resulting in Exide battery recycling poisoning thousands of East LA and Southeast LA families, over multiple generations. The City of LA has been threatening our communities for over a decade with the proposed toxic SCIG (Southern California International Gateway) railyard project, an environmentally racist project which would serve to increase profits for a private company and service goods movement for companies shipping overseas and across the country.

State planning is upholding the status quo, and the status quo is environmentally racist. We refuse to disproportionately absorb the negative impacts of State and private projects that include “local hire” policies that create jobs for Orange County residents while leaving our communities to suffer extreme unemployment. While other parts of the County benefit, Measure M represents an increase in tax and toxic emissions for our communities.We are not here for that anymore.


If Measure M is approved, our lives are at risk, literally. The toxic exposures in our communities, especially diesel particulate matter, already compromise our health, resulting in respiratory illnesses, cancer and premature death. What we have seen from transportation agencies (Metro, CalTrans) is antiquated transportation ideas (freeway expansion) and resistance to community leadership. For 4 years we have battled CalTrans to study Community Alternative 7, a community generated and community preferred alternative for the I-710 Project (710 from Long Beach to East LA). After getting some traction with Metro, just this last week we learned that one of the viable options for ensuring freight trucks are zero emissions, a catenary system, has been cut out of the project analysis. The claim that these entities are trying to be “technology neutral” is untrue since they are simply continuing a long history of excluding community based alternatives. When we look at the SR-710 (aka the 710 Tunnel) project, East LA was virtually excluded from the scoping process and community members had to fight to participate in the environmental review process after finding out the project threatens to displace businesses and compromise community health with an increase in toxic vehicle emissions.

With our opposition to Measure M, we know we risk straining relationships (political and otherwise) that have already been strained through our unrelenting struggle for justice on other issues. We also understand that in the past our communities have already been sacrificed in the service of maintaining political relationships or under the assumption that political favor could be leveraged in the future. When we envision moving forward the long struggle for justice for our communities, these types of political games and crony capitalism amongst elected officials, agencies and non-profit organizations, is not part of this struggle. In many ways, this is what has allowed for injustice to be maintained.

Some might wonder if we did enough to advocate and shape Measure M. Like our communities, our organization is under resourced and over burdened. Looking at our struggles and victories over the last year and half, when we were first contacted about the “Measure R2 strawman”, no one can say we haven’t been hard at work fighting for justice for our communities. We appreciate efforts by Supervisor Solis to support Community Alternative 7 and attempt to move the Gateway COG to be more responsive to community priorities on multiple projects and during the Measure M process. We appreciate Investing in Place and EnviroMetro for being responsive to our input around equity and mandatory zero emissions for freight investments, amongst other priorities. Before Measure M, we have created grassroots, bottom up solutions to transportation issues in our communities and have faced fierce opposition from CalTrans, Metro and the Gateway COG, so when allies engage us with open ears we are especially appreciative.

Unfortunately, we also saw the writing on the wall, with the lack of responsiveness to early input on the measure. We saw it again with efforts to get the Metro Board to be responsive to our communities on the I-710 project, which were ultimately undermined by the City of LA and the Gateway COG. Perhaps this acquiescing to the Gateway COG was an attempt by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to win favor that could payoff in the form of Measure M support, which failed given the Gateway COG’s opposition to Measure M. Most recently, we saw Mayor Garcetti visit the Commerce City Council, attempting to get them to reverse their opposition to Measure M with appeals to unity across the region, even floating the idea of Commerce hosting water polo games for the 2024 Olympics. This fell flat when we reminded the council that we had to sue the City of LA because their SCIG project was going to do train maintenance in the City of Commerce, with no plans to mitigate toxic emissions. The unity Mayor Garcetti mentioned was not felt when we successfully defeated the City of LA in court and they decided to spend hundreds of thousands dollars more to appeal the case.


We engaged in a 3-month education and dialogue process with our members across the sub-region. At our membership meetings, we came to consensus on opposition to Measure M. This recommendation was taken to our Board of Directors, made up of our membership, and our opposition to Measure M was solidified on September 28, 2016.


Our members brought up multiple issues with Measure M. Below are points that were consistently brought up across our membership:

  • Measure M is a regressive tax. Regressive taxes result in lower income families paying a disproportionately higher percentage of their income, compared to higher income individuals.
  • Measure M has no “sunset,” meaning it will continue with no end unless a different measure is passed in the future to end it. Given the amount of money and political will required to pass a measure in the County, it is virtually impossible for low income communities of color, the communities most negatively impacted by transportation projects in the region, to remove the tax once it is approved.
  • Measure M lacks equity in planning and implementation. It continues a status quo in planning, resulting in a disparity in how funds would be collected and distributed. Claims of “fair” or “equal” funding schemes only work to uphold the legacies of environmental racism.
  • The Gateway Cities Council of Governments (Gateway COG) has failed to represent the needs of our communities in most transportation project planning, often actively undermining our communities. This was the same during the planning phase of Measure M, where they:
  1. Ripped out active transportation funding for the sub-region
  2. Worked to undermine Community Alternative 7 at the Metro Board
  3. Opposed mandating that freight investments be zero emission
  4. Weakened Measure M and then opposed it


We support public transit.

We support active transportation.

We support zero emissions freight.

We support equity planning and meaningful community involvement.

We support genuine “local hire” guarantees.

We support a change in leadership at the Gateway COG.

We support community self-determination.

We support nothing less.



Nosotros, las centenas de miembros de East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice del Este de LA, Sureste de LA y Long Beach, no apoyaremos la imposición forzosa de un impuesto a pagar en nuestras comunidades para financiar de manera indefinida el racismo ambiental que ha perjudicado a varias de nuestras generaciones. Repetimos, NO APOYAREMOS LA IMPOSICIÓN FORZOSA DE UN IMPUESTO A PAGAR EN NUESTRAS COMUNIDADES PARA FINANCIAR DE MANERA INDEFINIDA EL RACISMO AMBIENTAL QUE HA PERJUDICADO A VARIAS DE NUESTRAS GENERACIONES.

A menos que la equidad y la participación significativa del público formen parte fundamental de toda financiación y planificación, para todo proyecto/política/medida/propuesta de ley referente al transporte o semejante, toda y cada una de las gestiones reforzarán y reproducirán las injusticias contra las que han estado luchando nuestras generaciones.

Mientras que la Medida M promete mejorar la movilización urbana para todo el pueblo, nuestras comunidades enfrentan el riesgo del incremento de contaminación de camiones y autos de combustible fósil, mientras que las otras comunidades gozarán de aire más limpio mediante las inversiones en transporte púbico y transporte activo.

En la región, nosotros ya cargamos con el peso nocivo y desproporcionado que incluye 8 carreteras (10, 710, 60, 5, 105, 91, 405, TI) en nuestras comunidades, lidiando con el tránsito a nivel local, regional, interestatal, e internacional.

Nosotros ya cargamos con el peso nocivo y desproporcionado en nombre de toda la nación, con Puertos en nuestras comunidades que manejan el 40% de la importación de bienes y mercancías que ingresan a la nación, cuya realidad representa 40,000-60,000 viajes de camiones diariamente en nuestras comunidades, aunado a una multitud de yardas ferroviarias desplazando trenes de nuestras comunidades al resto de la nación.

Nuestras comunidades han cargado con este nocivo peso en nombre de los Estados Unidos del Oeste, conllevando al envenenamiento de miles de familias en el Este de LA y Sureste de LA por parte de la compañía de reciclaje de baterías Exide, por varias generaciones. La Ciudad de LA tiene amenazadas a nuestras comunidades por más de una década con la tóxica propuesta del proyecto de la yarda ferroviaria SCIG (Southern California International Gateway/Entrada Internacional del Sur de California), un proyecto de racismo ambiental cuyo fin es mejorar las utilidades de una compañía particular y favorecer el movimiento de mercancías para las compañías de embarques al extranjero y al resto de la nación.

El departamento de planeación estatal respalda el statu quo, y el statu quo es el racismo ambiental. Nos reusamos a absorber desproporcionadamente los efectos negativos del Estado y proyectos de iniciativa privada que incluyen las normas de “contratación local” que generan empleos para los habitantes del Condado de Orange mientras que dejan rezagadas a nuestras comunidades a sufrir del desempleo extremo. Mientras que otras partes del Condado se ven beneficiadas, la Medida M representa un incremento en el IVA y en emisiones nocivas en nuestras comunidades. Ya no se cuenta con nosotros para eso.


De ser aprobada, la Medida M pone en riesgo nuestras vidas – literalmente. La exposición a sustancias tóxicas en nuestras comunidades, especialmente a partículas de diesel, ya afectó nuestra salud, conllevando a enfermedades respiratorias, cáncer y muerte prematura. Lo que hemos visto por parte de entidades de transporte (Metro, CalTrans) son ideas anticuadas del transporte (expansión de carreteras) y resistencia ante el liderazgo comunitario. Hemos batallado ya 4 años para que CalTrans estudie la Alternativa Comunitaria 7, una alternativa generada y deseada por la comunidad respecto al Proyecto I-710 (710 de Long Beach al Este de LA). Luego de haber influido un poco en Metro, la semana pasada nos enteramos que una de las opciones viables para garantizar el uso de camiones de carga de cero emisiones, la opción catenaria (trolebús), ha sido eliminada del proceso de análisis del proyecto. Alegan que estas entidades están tratando de tomar una postura “neutral respecto a tecnologías”, lo cual no es acertado ya que simplemente están dando continuidad a un extenso historial de exclusión de las alternativas comunitarias populares. Cuando vemos el proyecto SR-710 (alias el Túnel 710), prácticamente excluyeron el Este de LA en el proceso exploratorio y los miembros de la comunidad tuvieron que luchar para participar en el proceso de revisión ambiental luego de enterarse que el proyecto amenaza con desplazar negocios y compromete la salud comunitaria con un incremento en la emisiones vehiculares nocivas.

Al oponernos a la Medida M, sabemos que arriesgamos el poner en juego nuestras conexiones (políticas y otras) que ya han estado en juego antes por nuestra incansable lucha por la justicia tocante a otros asuntos. También entendemos que en el pasado nuestras comunidades han cargado con el sacrificio en aras de mantener relaciones políticas o bajo la suposición de que los favores políticos pudieran favorecernos a futuro. Cuando prevemos los avances de nuestra larga lucha por la justicia en nuestras comunidades, este tipo de juegos de política y camaradería capitalista, entre funcionarios electos, agencias y organizaciones sin fines de lucro, no forma parte de la lucha. En distintas formas, esto es lo que ha permitido que la injusticia prevalezca.

Algunos se han de preguntar si hemos hecho lo suficiente por abogar y moldear la Medida M. Al igual que nuestras comunidades, en nuestra organización los recursos son escasos y la carga abrumadora. Al dar un vistazo a nuestros estragos y victorias en el año y medio que acaba de transcurrir, cuando por primera vez se nos avisó acerca de la “Medida R2 strawman”, nadie puede decir que no hemos estado trabajando duro por la justicia en nuestras comunidades. Reconocemos con aprecio los intentos del Supervisor Solís en apoyo a la Alternativa Comunitaria 7 y el intento de influir en el Concilio de Gobiernos de las Ciudades de Entrada para que fuesen más sensibles ante las prioridades de la comunidad en varios proyectos y en el proceso de la Medida M. Le agradecemos a Investing in Place y EnviroMetro por su sensibilidad ante las opiniones tocantes a la equidad y la obligación de cero emisiones al invertir en los camiones de carga, entre otras prioridades. Anterior al a Medida M, nosotros hemos elaborado soluciones arraigadas en la comunidad ante las gestiones de transporte en nuestras comunidades y hemos enfrentado una oposición feroz por parte de CalTrans, Metro y el Concilio de Gobierno de las Ciudades de Entrada, así que nos sentimos sumamente agradecidos cuando un aliado participa con nosotros con una mente abierta.

Desafortunadamente vimos también, a plena vista, la falta de sensibilidad ante las opiniones iniciales respecto a la medida. La vimos también en los intentos por conseguir que la Directiva de Metro fuese más sensible ante nuestras comunidades en el proyecto I-710, los cuales finalmente fueron socavados por la Ciudad de LA y el Concilio de Gobiernos de las Ciudades de Entrada. Quizás esta aquiescencia con el Concilio de Gobiernos de las Ciudades de Entrada fue un intento por parte del Alcalde Eric Garcetti a manera de conseguir el favoritismo que resultaría en el apoyo a la Medida M, lo cual fue un intento fallido ya que dicho Concilio se opuso a la Medida M. Aún más recientemente, vimos al Alcalde Garcetti en su visita al Concilio de Ayuntamiento de Commerce, intentando conseguir que se retractaran de su oposición a la Medida M haciendo un llamado a la solidaridad de la región, incluso oscilando la idea de que Commerce fuese la cede de partidos de polo para las Olimpiadas 2024. Todo se quedó corto cuando le recordamos al Concilio que habíamos entablado una demanda en contra de la Ciudad de LA porque el proyecto SCIG iba a tener sesiones de capacitación de manutención en la Ciudad de Commerce, sin plan alguno para mitigar las emisiones de sustancias tóxicas. La solidaridad que mencionaba el Alcalde Garcetti no se percibió cuando nosotros victoriosamente vencimos a la Ciudad de LA ante un juez y ellos decidieron gastar cientos de miles de dólares para apelar el dictamen.


Condujimos un proceso informativo y de diálogo de 3 meses con nuestros miembros a lo largo de la subregión. En las reuniones de membresía llegamos a un consenso de oposición a la Medida M. Esta recomendación fue presentada ante nuestra Mesa Directiva, compuesta de miembros de la organización, y el 28 de septiembre, 2016 se ratificó nuestra oposición a la Medida M.


Nuestros miembros mencionaron varias gestiones respecto a la Medida M. A continuación, presentamos los puntos que surgieron continuamente en nuestra membresía:

  • La Medida M es un impuesto regresivo. Los impuestos regresivos tienen como resultado el que las familias de bajos recursos tengan que pagar un porcentaje desproporcionadamente más alto por sus ingresos, comparado con los individuos con mejores ingresos.
  • La Medida M no tiene fecha de vencimiento, es decir que continuaría vigente indefinidamente a menos que otra medida sea aprobada que ponga fin a ésta. Tomando en cuenta la inversión monetaria y política que se requiere para la aprobación de una medida en el Condado, viene siendo prácticamente imposible para las comunidades de color de bajos recursos –siendo las comunidades que se ven principalmente perjudicadas por los proyectos de transporte en la región– el eliminar un impuesto una vez que haya sido aprobado.
  • La Medida M carece de equidad en su planificación e implementación. Le da continuidad al statu quo en la planificación, cuyo resultado es la disparidad en la manera en que se recolectan y distribuyen los fondos. El que el complot financiero declare actuar “justamente” o “con igualdad” simplemente contribuye a la preservación del legado de racismo ambiental.
  • El Concilio de Gobiernos de las Ciudades de Entrada (Gateway COG, en inglés) ha fallado en su tarea de representación de las necesidades de nuestras comunidades en la mayor parte de la planificación de los proyectos de transporte, frecuentemente socavando decididamente a nuestras comunidades. Vimos lo mismo durante la fase de planificación de la Medida M, en la cual:
  1. Extirparon la financiación para el transporte activo en la subregión
  2. Se esforzaron por socavar la Alternativa Comunitaria 7 en la Directiva de Metro
  3. Se opusieron al mandato que exige la inversión en trasporte de carga de cero emisiones
  4. Debilitaron la Medida M y luego se opusieron a ésta


Nosotros apoyamos el transporte público.

Nosotros apoyamos el transporte activo.

Nosotros apoyamos el transporte de carga de cero emisiones.

Nosotros apoyamos la equidad en la planificación y la participación significativa de la comunidad.

Nosotros apoyamos el garantizar una auténtica “contratación local”.

Nosotros apoyamos el cambio en el liderazgo del Concilio de Gobiernos de las Ciudades de Entrada.

Nosotros apoyamos la autodeterminación comunitaria.

Nosotros apoyamos todo esto y nada menos.


Remembering Marina Pando’s Legacy as we launch our 2nd Annual MP-SJRC

As we are excited to begin working with our second cohort of Marina Pando-Social Justice Research Collaborative students this week, we are reminded of Marina Pando’s legacy. Marina was an outstanding leader dedicated to the environmental justice movement. To commemorate her passing last June, our students share how Marina Pando’s personality and legacy are reflected in a program that focuses on creating community-generated knowledge. MP-SJRC 1 “Marina Pando, is an inspiration to young women of color in a variety of ways and her story speaks to me. Her strong character and hunger for justice is a reflection of what EYECJ stands for in using your own experiences and being powerful enough to stimulate a reaction from others. She definitely influenced oppressed workers who were abused and afraid to stand up to these industries. Part of being a great person is building other people and sacrificing yourself to see others grow. Her countless hours and devotion to the community was a symbol of the strength that women have”. -Estefanie Garcia, Youth In Action!, Bell Gardens High School Marina-300x200 “A program dedicated to creating community knowledge reflects the personality of Marina Pando by showing a strong will to learn anything new and fight for what one believes in. In order for us to accomplish our goals we must stand up for what we believe in and never let others put us down. Marina Pando’s personality reflected one of being independent and never letting others tell her what to do, no matter who they were. She showed that we all have it in us to become leaders. A community led program always shows that leaders are all around us, they can be our neighbors, our siblings, our parents, our teachers, but more importantly ourselves. We all have it within ourselves to create an environment in which we can live life to the fullest. -Karla Perez, EYCEJ Long Beach Member For more information on Marina Pando visit: La Leona by Hugo LujanTo read about research produced last year, please visit:Marina Pando Social Justice Research Collaborative Projects 2015. Help us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $3,000! Please visit our website to donate here. Your donation will go directly to funding student stipends.

How to Grow a Movement – One Story at a Time by Martha Matsuoka

Last month, over a meal of pupusas, Martha Dina Argüello and I had the opportunity to talk with the youth members of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) Youth in Action! (YA!) program, about movement histories and our roles in it.  Martha and I shared our stories and then the young people in the room began to share their stories and ask questions. And this is where it got good. You can listen to an audio recording of the talk via StoryCorps here: https://storycorps.me/interviews/las-marthas-speak-honoring-the-legacy-of-storytelling-within-the-environmental-justice-movement/

Las Martas Speak


They told us stories about their lives growing up in Southeast Los Angeles.  They shared their concerns about growing class sizes at Bell Gardens High School.  They talked about their hopes and plans for going to college. They told us about how the challenges they face balancing family, friends, school and their activist work in the community. The young women shared ways they raise their voices in the classrooms despite teachers and others ignoring them.

Their stories generated questions and stories from the EYCEJ organizers in the room as well. They asked Martha and I about how we navigate activism and movement building as women of color, especially in places and spaces dominated by white men and white institutions.  What movement history could inform their work and their lives?  How do we do this work in the long term?

I can’t remember how Martha and I responded to the questions but what I do remember is how the conversation knit together all of our stories past and present — as a third generation Japanese American woman who found her voice in the environmental justice movement, an immigrant Nicaraguan woman radicalized and experienced in her work with the Black Panthers, youth and organizers with family ties to Mexico, Guatemala, Long Beach, East LA, Boyle Heights, and Bell Gardens. Even though we were born in many different decades, have had many different experiences growing up, have been involved in many different campaigns, and have way different capacities with technology (e.g. using smartphones, powerpoint, live streaming from periscope, etc.), our stories reflected a shared commitment to growing our movements and also our commitment to each other as we do the work together.

13275545_1172281332803800_975224773_o After the conversation, I was reminded of the powerful words of Grace Lee Boggs, the Chinese-American feminist, activist from Detroit who once wrote,

We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.

There is no doubt that the young leaders from Bell Gardens High School (as well as college students and young organizers) are the next generation of movement builders in our work. But in a movement context, their presence and leadership are also central to the work here and now. In the EYCEJ meeting room that night it was only through the youth that the rest of our stories were able to come together in rich and intersectional ways. The high school students were deeply rooted in their lived experiences and they made sure that our discussions remained focused on the intersectionality of race, gender, age, and nationality.  They were acutely aware of the injustices they faced but rather than dwell on their problems, they probed us for new perspectives, examples, and tools for becoming better movement leaders. Grace Lee Boggs also says that our human evolution is not a linear process; talking story with and through the students made that point in clear and brilliant ways.

The youth of EYCEJ weave their stories with many others –youth, organizers, and allies from many neighborhoods and movements – and their rising collective power is making change in the East and Southeast LA, and Long Beach.  Whether it is fighting for smaller class sizes, demanding cleanup at the Exide plant, making sure the I-710 Freeway expansion brings community benefits instead of more polluted air, fighting back against Walmart, or growing their own food,  EYCEJ continues to build leadership – new and old- and models the way for other communities across the country.

Join us on June 23rd to meet these young movement leaders and be inspired.  #FightingForLife  #WeAreJustTryingToBreathe

Written by Martha Matsuoka 



Garcetti Whats good?!



MMheadshot a Martha Matsuoka is Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Her teaching focuses on environmental justice, community organizing, urban policy, environmental movement history, and community-based research. Her research focuses how community-based organizations organize to influence policy and planning and currently focuses on ports and freight transportation. Martha is one of two honorees at this years Fighting For Life 2016 Celebration



In fighting environmental racism, we know far too well what targeted violence feels like.

We are too familiar with the feeling of gasping for air.

We are too familiar with the suffocating smell from trucks, ships, trains.

We are too familiar with the similarity of gun smoke and exhaust.

We are too familiar in knowing that both are signifiers of death.

That both are followed by hospitals.

That both are followed by distress, sleepless nights, and pain.

We must remember that much like any other violence, it isn’t simply an accident but an extension of decades of policies and laws targeting communities of color.

That it is an extension of rhetoric that normalize violence against queer, trans, people of color.

We must remember violence many times isn’t the product of bullet but also comes in paper, ink, and signatures.

We must remember the creation of this is the constant identification of people of color, queer, trans, all those marginalized as expendable and unnecessary for what is defined by this machine as  ‘progress’.

We must remember that what continues to fuel this is homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, white supremacy, and racism.

We must remember that its engine is colonization, dehumanization, and massacre.

We must remember
It was a queer trans club
It was a latin night
It was a trans night
the 50 brothers and sisters dead
The 53 injured
The 103 hit by bullets in a room with a capacity of 300.

We must remember those who do not have the privilege of having the possibility of death be a distant idea, but a constant companion.

For the families and individuals
We stand with you.
We see you.
We hold your pain with you.
We fight with you.

If one attack can be felt across the world, then one victory can also be held by all of us.

This is why we must and will continue organizing.

Through organizing we affirm that we exist.

Through organizing we affirm that we are resilient.

Through organizing we affirm that we are powerful.

Through organizing we affirm that we are and will always be powrful enough to continue
Fighting For Life.