Many Latino anglers that fish off of L.A. County piers support the creation of Marine Protected Areas.
The opposition to creatingÂ Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) off of Southern California’s coast has taken aÂ sinister turn: terrorizing and attacking Latino families. Â I have participated in the MPA hearings for a few months now, and I have to say that the latest turn of events does not surprise me.Â When you attendÂ these hearings, you are immediatelyÂ hit with just how far the opposition isÂ willing to go with their tactics.Â TheyÂ will yell, push, and perpetuate all kinds of lies.Â No doubt the lastÂ hearing on October 21st (click here to view the video of the meeting), in Long Beach was a particularly contentious one, as reported byÂ Long Beach’s Press Telegram.Â Perhaps one of the most memorable comments from the anti-MPA crowd were those of aÂ fisherman that started ranting about how if MPA’s were implemented, there would be a “revolution” that would rise againstÂ such “government oppression.”Â “Government oppression?” I asked myself … uhm, “the government” in this instance, is us, the public, so was he saying thatÂ the actions of us, average working-classÂ Americans, to make sure that he and other fisherment like him did not run out of fish and therefore protect his freedom to keep on fishing would be “oppression”?Â Hey, I’m all forÂ democracy and for making sure that everyone’s way of life is respected but whenÂ you start throwing out such blatant reactionary and selfish (yes, selfish) lines you’ve crossed overÂ onto another realm.Â In fact, when your crowd starts attacking innocent children that have come to learn aboutÂ civic participation, you’ve crossed a line that cannot be forgiven.
What am I talking about? Well, before and duringÂ the public comment period,Â some whiteÂ fishermen that were unequivocally opposed toÂ any kind of MPA being implementedÂ in Southern California started attacking Latinos that came to the hearing in support of the MPA’s.Â In one instance, totally unprovoked, a high-strung white guy started yelling at some Latino high school kids from Compton, harassing them with insulting questions like “do you even know what this is about?”, Â “who brainwashed you?”, orÂ “are they giving you extra credit to be here?”.Â Nevermind that these were mostlyÂ Advanced Placement Compton students that knew quite a lot about the issue, having studied and prepped for the hearing because theyÂ wanted to learn about the “democratic process”.Â I guess because they were brown, this crazy white “fisherman” guy assumed that they were just dumb kids because they happened to disagree with his point of view.Â Well, to be fair, I have heard that the same harassing questions were being hurled at the students that came from Santa Monica High School (who happen to be mostly white kids).
Yet again, the stink of racism coming from some of the fishermen that showed up to the hearing to oppose MPA’s could not be erased.Â When the hearing was interrupted to report that the hotel bathroom had beenÂ vandalized,Â the Blue Ribbon Task Force (“BRTF” for short, the body that conducts theÂ hearings), urged everyone toÂ calm down.Â Yet whatÂ the BRTF did NOT report to the audience was what was written on the bathroom: “f*ck MLPA” (Marine Life Protection Act) and “f*ck 3” (referring to “Map 3”, the designed map of MPA’s that best supported sustainable fishing and the regeneration of marine life):
It was obvious that theÂ tagging had been perpetuated by the anti-MPA crowd … butÂ guess whoÂ the fishermenÂ blamed it on? Well, why, they blamed it on theÂ Latinos that had come to support MPA’s, of course!Â Not only that, but the white Â fishermen were also harassing other Latinos from East L.A.Â The white fishermenÂ would ask these Latinos families despicable questions like “do you even speak English?”, “did you come to get a free T-shirt?”, or “did they pay you to be here?”Â It was a disgustingÂ Â display of just what some in the anti-MPA crowd are about.Â What’s even worst: when all of this was reported to the moderators of the meeting, it was dismissed as no biggie.Â Shame on them for their lax attitude, tolerating racist fishermen to pull such tactics aimed at terrorizing people!
Again: I am all for respecting everyone’s way of life.Â Not all fishermen that are opposed to MPA’s are racist selfish bastards, in fact some of them are very fine men and women that are compassionate and caring and NOT selfish in the least bit.Â I also understand their argument: the drafting of MPA’s must protect their way of life, respect their dignity, and ensure that their livelihoods are not placed into unjust danger.Â I believe that the role of government is to protect everyone, making sure that the opportunity to prosperity is open to all, and the anti-MPA crowdÂ should not be theÂ exemption.Â However, when the fishing industry (supported by the California Fisheries Coalition) and the fishermenÂ resort to terrorizing tactics, lies, racism, selfishness, and they cover their eyes and ears to the fact that we ARE running out of fish, itÂ makes it very hard for me to accept their point of view.Â It defeats their argument,Â andÂ they defeat themselves.Â They might’ve made the Blue Ribbon Task Force blink on this round, but mark my words: we, the general public,Â will NOT stand for such racist displays.
To learn more about protecting the ocean for our future and our children’s future, you can visit Heal the Bay’s site on this MPA issue or read the latest OpEd from the L.A. Times.
Update: I’m also getting word thatÂ the white anti-MPA’s fishermen were harrassing the pro-MPA’s Latino anglers with questions which they would repeat over and over again such as “how old are you?” and “how long have you lived here?” (insinuating “you’re aÂ foreigner aren’t you?!”).
It’s time to take action!
So what can you do about it?
1) Email the organizers of the “Map 2” crowd and tell them that racism is NOT acceptable and willÂ NOT be tolerated:
2) Write to the MLPA Initiative to complain and to demand that they do not tolerate the racism coming from the anti-MPA crowd:
c/o California Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814
3) You can also contact the California Fisheries Coalition (which is one of the mainÂ groups that is assisting in organizingÂ the effort to water down the implementation ofÂ MPA’s) and demand that they denounce such racist behaviorÂ from its anti-MPA’s members:
Vern Goehring, Manager
California Fisheries Coalition
1621 13th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 444-8195 Fax
When you write to these threeÂ groups, please be respectful but firm in your demands and as detailed of as possible of what happened.