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Labor/Community Strategy Center

March/April 1998 issue of Poverty & Race

Labor/Community Strategy Center
3780 Wilshire Blvd., #1200
LA, CA 90010
Contact: Geoff Ray
One year ago, federal District Court Judge Terry Hatter approved a Consent Decree settlement of the class action civil rights lawsuit Labor/Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union et al. v. the Los Angeles This settlement is the culmination of eight years of Strategy Center
d four years of Bus Riders Union reorganizing as well as four years of legal representation by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and received critical support from PRRAC for research that aided the case.

The Consent Decree is already being acclaimed as a test-case victory for. civil rights, environmental justice, public transportation and democratic input into governmental policy. NYU Professor Robin D.G. Kelley called our suit the Brown v. Board of Education for the 90s, in which the demands of the urban poor of color are shaping a new anti-racist and civil rights agenda.

Under the Consent Decree, tens of millions of dollars were immediately redistributed to LA 's half-million bus riders in the form of lower fares and some service improvements. But the heart of the settlement, a potential $1.5 billion in bus improvements over the next years. faces unrelenting MTA non-compliance (which we expected).

Where do we go from here?

The growth and focus of our membership is the most important objective of all of our work - building and expanding an organization that not only can force MTA compliance, but create the expertise and democratic structures to actually oversee the running of one of the country's largest mass transit agencies.

Using a media strategy, we will educate the general public about the institutional racism of the MTA betrayal. We have already been very successful in using the media to reveal how MTA's undermining of the agreement is part of the government's historical plan to break treaties with communities of color. The long-term fight, especially in this conservative period in history, to force government to eliminate its own policies of racial discrimination - in this case, situated in the movement for a first-class mass transit system - creates a critical cutting edge to our work.

We will work in the national environmental justice movement to help us place greater national pressure on the
MTA. and encourage similar movements for mass transportation. the environment and civil rights in other critics.

We are also preparing for further legal challenges and continuing nego-tiations with the MTA.

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