11 Jun FoLAR Stands In Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Friends of the Los Angeles River deeply mourns the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the over 600 deaths in Los Angeles County at the hands of state-sanctioned violence – including Kenneth Ross, Kisha Michael, and Grechario Mack. These Black men and women should be alive today, instead of becoming the victims of institutional racism. We denounce violence, white supremacy, and oppose the structural racism that has been the ugly side of our history since before our nation’s inception. Black Lives Matter.
As an environmental advocacy organization, we recognize racism is an existential threat to all of us. Without addressing racism and white supremacy we will not rise to the challenge of protecting our communities from the slow violence of climate change. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are heavily affected by the exploitation of Earth’s resources, and most support policies that seek to heal our planet. Yet their voices remain marginalized within the environmental movement. Their contributions are not merely welcomed, but necessary to build a resilient environment and a just future.
Our mission to reimagine the Los Angeles River as a vibrant and inclusive open space is as much about changing our built environment as it is changing ourselves. Rivers have a way of showing us how we treat one another. Civil disobedience and public demonstrations have been crucial to our history as Friends of the LA River to force changes in perception and participation from the public and our elected officials. To achieve our shared goals on the LA River we must prioritize the demands of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
To start, our commitment includes our willingness to:
- Stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter nationally and all who are marching, protesting, singing as they stand up against injustice.
- Scrutinize our programs, curriculum, policies and open spaces we advocate for to ensure they embody the values of equity, anti-racism and inclusiveness.
- Further diversify our Board and staff to include and elevate more BIPOC to expand perspectives in our decision making processes.
- Guarantee all of our digital and in-person programs remain available and affordable to all students, advocates, and community members to continue practicing an equitably accessible and inclusive River.
- Continue providing free grant-funded educational programming and field trips to students attending schools in under-served communities throughout the River’s watershed.
- Lessen the socio-economic burdens on BIPOC Angeleno families, by supporting inclusive planning, construction of affordable housing, tenant protections, non-police resources for people experiencing homelessness, and anti-displacement measures in River-adjacent developments.
This is only the beginning. Throughout these commitments we will maintain open ears to listen and learn; our dedication to this work is steadfast and remains on-going.
Marissa Christiansen, President & CEO
Marissa Bates, CFO/COO
Shelly Backlar, VP of Programs
Kenyauda Brewington, Sr. Director of Development
Michael Atkins, Sr. Manager of Communications & Impact
Liliana Griego, Sr. Manager of Policy, Advocacy, & Engagement
Ilianna Padilla, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Virginia Schmitt, Sr. Manager of Events
Mireya Valencia, Programs Assistant
Zoe Witt, Operations Manager & Executive Assistant