Community Turns Out for Election Night Block Party in South LA

By Erin Rode, Daniela Silva, and Marisa Zocco

South LA residents gathered at Community Coalition’s Block Party on Tuesday night to witness a historic moment as the 2016 presidential election came to a close.

Nearly 200 people attended the event held near the corner of Vermont Avenue and 81st Street; some joined salsas lessons and others formed lines for free food — many stayed glued to the live election results displayed on a big screen.

“[This] a party with a purpose, that is why we’re here tonight… it is about empowerment. It is about being here with community and standing in the midst of democracy.. We are here together, we are here peacefully and hoping for good things to happen tonight,” said guest speaker Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Many of the event’s attendees were in support of Proposition 57, which would increase parole opportunities for felons who committed nonviolent and allow judges to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults, instead of prosecutors.

“For too long our black and brown youth have been disproportionately affected by a broken criminal justice system,” said Gilbert Johnson, who leads the civic engagement program at Community Coalition.

Supporters of State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris were also present, and cheered upon notice of her victory. Harris will be the first black politician to represent California in the Senate. California State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas celebrated both Harris’ election and the passing of several influential propositions.

“This is where golden opportunities become reality. This is where we fight homelessness, this is where we elect a woman of color for the United States Senate, this is where we can win with criminal justice reform on the ballot,” he said.

On the other hand, some in the crowd were less than pleased at Donald Trump’s winning of the presidential election.

“[Trump] talks about immigrants ruining America but immigrants are the reason America is what it is,” said 17-year-old Lea Hall.

Ana Godoy and Susy Cuevas also echoed this sentiment.

“It is pretty shocking and scary to see what we’re seeing on TV. It just shows that we haven’t really learned anything from our history and history is just repeating itself, so its just nerve-wracking to see what these end results will be,” said Cuevas.

“We like to think that we live in a world that is post-sexism, post-racism, but I think that this really shows that we’re not past that, and Trump winning kind of wakes us up to that and shows that it still exists. We may not see it here or feel it as prominently in California, or in Los Angeles, but it exists and I think these results show that, and what he stands for proves that this sexism and racism is still out there,” said Godoy.