Activists, Artists and Residents Meet to Discuss Actions
By Brent E. Beltrán
This is the first of a series of articles I plan on writing over the next few months on The Battle for Barrio Logan and the residents’ resistance to maritime industry’s hateful referendums.
On a beautiful Tuesday evening a dozen individuals involved with the Barrio Logan community gathered at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights to plot out a strategy to take on polluting maritime industry’s anti-resident referendums.
Having not gotten their way during a five year Barrio Logan community plan update process maritime industry and their suppliers and surrogates have decided to take this local neighborhood issue out of the hands of Barrio Logan and put it to a citywide vote even though the San Diego City Council twice voted 5-4 to approve the community plan.
The Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, which includes NASSCO, Continental Maritime, and BAE Systems — which was ordered to pay a massive $400 million criminal fine by the Department of Justice — among others, has been gathering signatures for the two referendums in opposition to the Barrio Logan community plan.
During the entire process maritime industry has been lying about the impact of the updated community plan on their businesses. Signature gatherers have also been lying to get people to sign. Those gathering signatures have been telling people that the Navy will go away if the plan is implemented, that the shipyards will close down and condos will be put up in their place and that thousands upon thousands of jobs will be lost if they are not allowed to continue polluting the residents of Barrio Logan.
All of these are blatant lies and distortions so that maritime industry can control the land in Barrio Logan. Not only is the toxic maritime industry fighting the residents of Barrio Logan they are also lying to the people of San Diego to get signatures and pass their referendums (there are two: one repeals the new Barrio Logan community plan and the other does away with zoning they do not like).
San Diego’s maritime industry has historically been bad neighbors in Barrio Logan. They’ve been polluting this community and the San Diego Bay for decades.
They also have been parking hogs since many of these waterfront corporations don’t have much onsite parking for their employees. Stop by Cesar Chavez Park during the day and you will see Continental Maritime workers illegally parked in two hour parking zones preventing residents from driving there and finding parking. They also take up spots on residential streets forcing some residents to park blocks from their homes.
Maritime has always acted in bad faith toward the residents of Barrio Logan as well as throughout the community plan update process, they’ve lied at city council meetings and to the press, and they are lying to the entire city of San Diego about the reasons behind their greedy land grab.
For all of these reasons and more the residents of Barrio Logan and those in solidarity with this little historic neighborhood have decided to fight back on a variety of fronts. This meeting was the start of that process.
Between now and the June election dozens of actions will be organized at the local level. Actions such as leafleting the community to picketing the homes and offices of maritime executives — as well as supporters like city councilman Kevin Faulconer and wannabe congressman Carl DeMaio — and even acts of civil disobedience are all on the table. These are but a few of the dozens of ideas for anti-referendum actions.
There are also plans to take this struggle nationally and internationally. We will fight them in the courts, at city hall, in Sacramento, in England — where BAE Systems is from — and we will take them on in the streets of Barrio Logan.
San Diego’s maritime industry is headed by billion dollar out of state corporations — and in the case of BAE Systems out of country — that want to dictate how a community plans. We are but poor brown people fighting for our survival. It is a true David versus Goliath battle. They may have the funds to derail democracy but we have heart, soul and social justice on our side.
This won’t be an easy struggle but nothing that the residents of Barrio Logan have struggled for has been easy. We have Chicano Park because people put themselves on the line. We have bay access because people fought for that. The Chicano Park murals were saved from CalTrans’ retrofit because we demanded it. All of these were tough battles. Yet we were victorious. This battle against the referendum is no different.
Maritime industry declared war on the residents of Barrio Logan and we are prepared to battle it out not only in this community but all over. We have no choice. Our community, our culture, our history and our very existence are at stake. We have truth and righteousness on our side and battle hardened residents and activists who are willing stand tall for Barrio Logan. We are all Davids fighting the maritime Goliath and together we will win! ¡Juntos venceremos!