Weekend Guide of Community Activity and Activism in South LA

Jaren, a member of the Youth Action Council, offers his observations at a pit stop on the healthy food walk. (photo: sahra)

One of the exciting things about covering South L.A. is how active the communities within the area are. So active, in fact, I cannot always keep up with everything that is going on. Instead of writing stories this week, I’ve been catching up on piecing together the interviews, photos, and stories I’ve been tracking for some time so that I can hit the ground running with some more in-depth stories next week. I was hoping to have this weekend off to finish that process, but that might not happen. There’s too much amazing stuff going on. Check it out:

Saturday, 9 a.m., the East Side Riders are collaborating with the Hub City Teens from Compton to explore the Compton Creek trail and make their way to Long Beach. For more information, see the event page or contact the East Side Riders.

Sunday, things kick into high gear.

In the morning, the South L.A. Healthy Food Walk and Ride kicks off at Mercado La Paloma. The last event asked pedestrians to evaluate the health and safety of the streets along Jefferson Blvd. This time, organizers will turn their sights on King Blvd., Vernon Ave. Western Blvd. and Adams Blvd. As before, participants will be helping the RideSouthLA team gather data about the neighborhood for their map of the community. Participants can ride or walk, and lunch will be provided by Community Services Unlimited‘s Village Market Place. The VMP — the funds from which help CSU provide local youth with paid internships — offers fresh-baked goods, beyond organic fruits and vegetables, and yummy jams and sauces.

Time: 10am – 2pm

Start Location: Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S Grand Ave.

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Mid-day, take yourself over to the Slauson Corridor to participate in the re-branding process of a community.

For a number of years, residents from View Park, Ladera Heights, and Windsor Hills have been looking to create a town center that reflected well upon the identity and character of their communities. They have been active in working with planners to communicate their aspirations for the revitalization of the area, attending planning meetings and voting for different schemes to improve the livability, accessibility, and walkability of a site currently used primarily as a transit corridor. There has been so much public involvement, actually, that reaching a consensus on the street-scape strategy has been a challenge. So, on Sunday, the L.A. County Arts Commission Civic Art Program and the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are bringing in the Mobile Mural Lab to help residents participate in a branding exercise. Participants will be asked to think creatively and visualize their ideas for the corridor. This means envisioning a narrative, colors, symbols — whatever they feel represents their community — and painting it on the side of the lab truck, to create a visual record of community identity. It is part of a larger process of re-envisioning the area; next weekend graduate students in business and planning from USC and UCLA will be throwing down at a design competition to arrive at a new image and new real estate purpose for the northern block of Slauson Ave., between Angeles Vista and Overhill Drive.

Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: 4508 W Slauson Ave.

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In the evening, head over to the California African-American Museum for a free screening of the Ken Burns’ documentary, The Central Park Five.

If you were a female and a jogger in the 1980s, the brutal rape and beating of the woman known as the Central Park Jogger tattooed itself into your consciousness. In the aftermath of the assault, police rounded up teens that had been part of a group known to be harassing and sometimes assaulting people in the park that night. They eventually fingered 5 juveniles as suspects in the rape, getting one 15-year old to confess by telling him his fingerprints had been found on the victim’s clothing. The youth were convicted despite there being no evidence linking them to the scene and the fact that the only DNA found on the victim pointed to an unknown person.

Twelve years later, it was determined that the youth were not guilty. But by then, they had served their sentences.

The film explores the impact of public outcry on the desire to convict the youth in the face of the overwhelming lack of evidence, conflicting confessions of the youth about how the assault occurred, and highly questionable police procedures used on juveniles. It also explores larger themes of race, power, and how perceptions or expectations of youth of color play into how they are treated in the system and the willingness of the public and the judicial system to see them as credible witnesses or innocent before proven guilty. Finally, it asks questions about the lengths to which societies are willing to violate the rights of others in order to make a community feel safe, all themes which resonate within South L.A., an area where youth of color report being regularly harassed and treated with suspicion by law enforcement in public spaces.

The wrongfully convicted men and the filmmaker will be on hand to participate in a discussion with the audience after the film screening.

Time: 6 p.m. (screening), 7:30 p.m. (discussion)

Location: CAAM, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park (free, but parking is $10 at 39th and Figueroa)

Please RSVP at CP5CAAM@tcdm-associates.com