This blog has two essential purposes: first, to publish public records obtained from the three Hollywood area BIDs we cover and their collaborators and second, to needle employees and supporters of those BIDs. Neither educating nor convincing anyone of anything are huge priorities of ours, and even the public revelation of our two purposes cuts against the grain somewhat. However, it’s recently come to our attention that some of our readers who, so to speak, come upon our work innocently, not involved with the BIDs but just having a general interest in the political life of Los Angeles, may consider our constant comparisons of BIDs with Nazis to be glib, puerile, shallow, offensive, trivializing, and/or so on. Some of the objections expressed have come to seem, after much consideration, to have merit and to deserve a serious response.
To understand our position, it’s essential to imagine what it felt like to inhabit the Third Reich as a non-Jew in the early 1930s, before Nazism was a universal symbol of pure and essential evil. Germany wasn’t yet an international outcast, and non-Jewish Germans, for the most part, didn’t feel like a nation of demons. In many ways they were not. Concentration camps, now considered primarily sites of genocide, were opened by the Nazis in March 1933 immediately after their accession to power. At first they were used for holding political prisoners and criminals and people were actually released from them on occasion. There’s also no particular reason to think that the Nazi government had any concrete plans to exterminate Jews from the earth when they took power in 1933. Continue reading Why We Think it is Fitting to Compare BIDs to Nazis→
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that, last month, we broke the story of Hollywood Chamber of Commerce biggity-wig Marty Shelton’s bizarre distaste for black, brown, and poor people visiting Hollywood. Inspired by that, we recently wrote on the white supremacist roots of our beloved Hollywood sign and the inwrought caucasians-only policies of the real-estate development it once promoted. This line of inquiry got us interested in the jim crow history of Hollywood, which turns out to be quite rich.
For instance, a brief discussion in Scott Kurashige’s interesting book The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles1 led us to read up in old LA Times articles on anti-Japanese hysteria in Hollywood in the early 1920s. It seems that in April 1923, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce gave some advice to a bunch of angry white people. The article is here, but the short version is that some Japanese people bought eight lots in Hollywood, four near Bronson and Sunset and four on Tamarind and Gordon, and had the nerve to wish to build some apartment buildings and a church.
The white people got all in a tizzy, you can see one in the image above, and went to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce screaming for help. The Chamber, as opposed to the presence of non-white people in Hollywood as they are today, directed the howling mob to the City Attorney to seek a restraining order and they also started circulating petitions “urging the residents to agree to restrict the use of land to those of the Caucasian race.”2 They were even inspired to poetry! See after the break for an especially creepy example.
We’ve written before about the BIDs’ and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s sinister plot to turn Hollywood into a sundown town by discouraging black and brown people from coming here at night. We’ve also written about the Hollywood Entertainment District BID’s soulless opposition to the saintly Senator Carol Liu’s Right to Rest Act, which would prevent the BID Patrol from harassing and arresting homeless people for violating the vile LAMC 41.18(d), which makes it a misdemeanor to sit on the sidewalk for any purpose other than watching a parade. What we discovered recently from a fine article by Renee Lewis which appeared yesterday on Al Jazeera America is that the two issues are linked via the despicable League of California Cities.
Lewis quotes various activists to the effect that “[t]he homeless are not the first marginalized group targeted by the League in its over 100-year history” and “[t]he League has supported sundown towns, Jim Crow laws, Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment.” And it’s true. E.g., look at the LA Times1 on February 16, 1942, where Richard Graves, executive secretary of the League is quoted as saying:
The most obvious advantage to be gained by enactment of such ordinances [including evacuation of Japanese-Americans] is protection of the civilian population…