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LAPD investigating tagging of Boyle Heights art galleries as possible hate crime

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But activists say the real hate crime is gentrification

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating vandalism of some Boyle Heights art galleries as possible hate crimes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In one of the three cases police are looking into, “f**k white art” was spray-painted on a metal roll-up door fronting a gallery in the industrial section of Boyle Heights west of the 101 freeway. Art galleries have been a target of the ire of community activists who see the galleries as harbingers of the displacement of long-time, mostly lower income residents.

The inclusion of the word “white” makes it a possible hate crime, say police. “We don’t know who actually did [the vandalism], but because it actually made a reference to anti-white art or anti-white, it’s basically saying that it’s a hate crime based on that,” Detective John Parra of LAPD’s Hollenbeck division told the Times.

uh oh

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Speaking about the trio of defacements, LAPD Captain Rick Stabile, the patrol commanding officer at the Hollenbeck station, said “[W]hen I saw the number of these and that they were all related to art galleries, just from a common-sense standpoint, I wanted to try and figure out what was going on with the community.”

Defend Boyle Heights—an activist group that has organized protests in front of galleries and called for them vacate the neighborhood—issued a statement Thursday saying it wasn’t responsible for the acts of vandalism. It also said it didn’t “condemn it,” calling gentrification the "highest form of hate crime."

One of the founders of a housing rights and community advocacy group called Union de Vecinos added that, at worst, tagging the galleries was “an aesthetic critique of a certain cultural expression of art” and not a hate crime.

The push-back against looming gentrification and displacement in Boyle Heights has asserted itself many times over the last year, shutting down a tone-deaf bike tour for would-be homebuyers and pushing out a mobile opera and a walking tour.