Residents in South Los Angeles, whose lives were upended by a fireworks explosion more than two years ago, are still grappling with the aftermath of the devastating incident. On Wednesday, these resilient community members took their concerns directly to the doorstep of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, staging a protest outside her Windsor Square residence.
The demonstrators contend that numerous homes damaged in the explosion have yet to be repaired, casting a shadow over their daily lives. The explosion, which occurred in June 2021 at the intersection of 27th and San Pedro streets in South LA’s Historic South-Central neighborhood, transpired following the LAPD’s seizure of thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks from a nearby residence.
Despite warnings from an explosives expert advising the LAPD bomb squad to dismantle the cache before detonation, they chose to trigger the entire stockpile, leading to a catastrophic event. The explosion resulted in 17 residents and first responders being hospitalized, the destruction of the bomb squad truck, and substantial damage to more than 30 properties and nearly 40 vehicles in the vicinity.
In the aftermath of the blast, the city, in collaboration with nonprofit partners, offered support in the form of temporary housing and processing of numerous damage claims. Nevertheless, families affected by the LAPD fireworks explosion, alongside advocacy groups such as the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, are voicing their grievances outside the mayor’s residence, asserting that a dozen families remain displaced and are now facing threats of eviction from their paid hotel accommodations.
The demonstrators have been seeking a meeting with Mayor Karen Bass for months but claim to have been consistently ignored. Ron Gochez of Union Del Barrio described the situation, stating, “Today if you go to 27th Street, it looks like a war zone. The houses are completely boarded up. They’re still destroyed. The foundations are destroyed. They haven’t repaired a single house on that block. If they did, these people wouldn’t be here. They would be inside their homes, but they’re not. They’re living in hotels.”
Nereyda Velasquez, a displaced resident, lamented the lack of response from Mayor Bass, saying, “We’ve been trying to contact her [Mayor Bass], emailing her. No response. No feedback. Nothing. We’ve gone through the office to try to set up appointments. No feedback. Nothing. So we’re here. We’re here to protest. We’re done. We’re done being ignored.”
The families claim that they have reached out to the mayor’s office seven times in the last three months without receiving any response, prompting them to bring their message to her residence in Windsor Square.
The city’s most recent update indicates that additional contractors have been hired to expedite the repair process, and an additional $2 million in financial aid has been approved to assist those affected by the explosion.