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Japanese American community gathers to mourn elder deaths and mass evictions

By staff |
March 25, 2021
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Candlelight memorial for the 118 Japanese elders who died of COVID-19 at Pacific
Candlelight memorial for the 118 Japanese elders who died of COVID-19 at Pacifica Kei-Ai assisted living facility in Lincoln Heights. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - A candlelight memorial took place on March 20 for 118 Japanese elders who died of COVID-19 at Pacifica Kei-Ai assisted living facility in Lincoln Heights, which is rated the worst in California. The event was organized by Save Our Seniors, a broad coalition of Japanese American groups. The vigil also brought attention to the alarming threat of evictions of these elders from Sakura Gardens which is located in Boyle Heights.

Centro CSO delegation members attended and have been supporting the fight to stop Pacifica Corporation from converting the Sukara Gardens assisted living facilities to market-rate luxury apartments in Boyle Heights. Carlos Montes, along with Tamlyn Tomita, had an editorial published in the San Diego Union-Tribune and attended the protest. The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council has also passed a Community Impact Statement opposing the Pacifica project and sent it to the LA City Planning Department.

Stop gentrification in Boyle Heights

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international real estate firm Pacifica Companies plans to turn Sakura Gardens into a 45-unit luxury apartment building, put at risk the lives of 200 of its most vulnerable residents by forced evictions and transfers. Many of the residents are women in their eighties and nineties. As children, they grew up in U.S. concentration camps during WWII, due to the mass round up of Japanese Americans, and lived in some of the harshest terrains in America.

118 seniors have fallen victim to the negligence of Pacifica. The threat of eviction comes in the wake of the pandemic and shortly after a hate crime against Asian American women in the state of Georgia.

California Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi from Torrance sponsored a bill - AB279 - supported by Miguel Santiago, the assemblymember whose district includes Boyle Heights. Plans are to pass the bill which would stop the Pacifica Companies’ development plans. To join these efforts, follow SOS at https://instagram.com/publichealthequality.

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