Observing History… and Making It

Last month marked the 175th anniversary of the Treaty of Cahuenga, which was signed right here in Council District 2.  That historic pact ended the Mexican-American War in California and made Los Angeles an American city.  The treaty was a magnanimous one, made in a spirit of mutual respect, with the expectation that people of different cultures would live side by side in peace.  It “guaranteed protection of life and property” to the Californios, and further provided that “equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to every citizen of California as are enjoyed by the citizens of the United States.”

I’ve been reflecting on that historic moment as I’ve thought about our recent actions to address the challenges the city faces today. 

Two weeks ago, the Council adopted my initiative to end oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles once and for all.  This historic step promises long-awaited relief for hundreds of thousands of Angelenos whose neighborhoods have suffered for generations from toxic emissions near extraction sites.  

As we continue our struggle to end homelessness, we broke ground on the second of six permanent supportive housing projects planned in my district.  Supplementing our work in building hundreds of beds of shelter, permanent housing projects like this are an essential step in our long-term strategy to address chronic homelessness.

I stood with Asian-American leaders at the Wat Thai temple in North Hollywood to speak out about a shocking increase in hate crimes aimed at their community.  The rally was one of several across the country that marked the anniversary of a senseless killing of an 84-year-old Thai grandfather.  

What these actions have in common is the fundamental principle upon which the Treaty of Cahuenga was based – that despite differences in our background, our ethnicity and our material wealth, all human beings are entitled to respect and dignity and peace.  Now more than ever, as our nation can seem so divided and so torn by outrage and anger, we need to realize that our future rises or falls for all of us, together.