Situated at what is easily the central point of Los Angeles, the park is a mostly underappreciated landscape of The City. Since as far back as the 1980s, however, its lengthy green pastures and the enclosed spaces within have been the settings for generations of the community’s Centro-Americanos to hang out and assess life in Los Angeles.
Over ten years ago, it was also one of the major sites of L.A.’s biggest march ever, the 2006 Marches in support of protections for so-called undocumented immigrants. I took part in those demonstrations, and in doing so discovered a piece of myself within el pueblo that I carry with me to this day. Only the next year, in a subsequent march known as the 2007 May Day March, which stood for the same protections as the previous demonstrations, the park would be the epicenter of a brutal crackdown on protesters and activists at the hands of then police chief William Bratton’s LAPD.
Police officers fired over 100 rounds of projectiles directly into the peaceful crowd, ascended on journalists with their batons, and kicked mothers and children who didn’t scurry quickly enough at their call. Although the department eventually admitted its breakdown in the face of peaceful demonstration, no subsequent reports of chiefs at fault being disciplined or a policy overhaul were ever reported.
Today the park is home to many of L.A.’s so-called homeless population. While its pastures are still green with life, its restrooms are in need of deep washing, and it would benefit greatly from more spaces devoted to the neighborhood’s next Angelenos.
Moreover, for being located in a city that wants to be known for its innovation in self-recreation, MacArthur could use some innovative solutions to change the tide against its neglect. What’s also true, however, is that now more than ever, the descendants of those Centro-Americanos, not to mention those activists and protesters, have the park in sight with new visions for its future. Stay tuned.