Sunday, May 9, 2010

West Las Vegas: Patterns of Environental Injustice and Resistance

Last week Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic sent me several official documents that tell us more about the history of transportation racism, regional inequity, and environmental injustice here. One of the documents, from 1956, showed that the City had three different plans for Interstate 15, and chose the western route. This route, which cut through historically black West Las Vegas, actually cost the most, but was approved in order to provide more convenience to business and the Las Vegas Strip.

Another document from 1970 indicated that civil unrest from October 5-11, 1969 was an important factor in the plan to reopen F Street. On October 8, 1969, the Las Vegas Review Journal posted articles about the events, including comments from young men (including a Vietnam vet) who had been frustrated by the lack of justice in West Las Vegas. I have been unable to locate any of the men involved in these events.

In 2008, people in West Las Vegas took a different strategy when F Street closed, choosing peaceful protests and legal and political pressure. Although the City and State promise to reopen the street, the thoroughfare between West Las Vegas and Symphony Park may not open until 2014 or later.

Click on the picture to get a larger version of the Review-Journal (October 8, 1969) photo.

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