Lying on the cool asphalt in front of Canvas LA apartments, whistles and bike bells blasting at full volume all around me, looking up at the clear blue sky and screaming, “Chale con Cedillo!”, I couldn’t help but laugh. How had our lives taken this unexpected turn?
This past Sunday morning, on January 4, 2015, members of the community including some involved with Eastside Bike Club, Figueroa For All, NELA Alliance, and the Bike Oven gathered at the doors of the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop to ride to Councilman Gil Cedillo’s doorstep to say, “¡Chale Con Cedillo!”
The word “chale” is a slang term that is roughly equivalent to the English phrases “hell no” or “get out of here with that nonsense”. In the mid-1960’s Chicano activists organized a boycott of Coors beer; the phrase “Chale con Coors!” was used to rally support for the boycott.
In a recent city council meeting (see the YouTube video above), Councilman Cedillo called a group of constituents members of “the 1%” and “bullies” for speaking out against Cedillo’s proposal to install diagonal parking on 4 blocks of North Figueroa Street in downtown Highland Park. Cedillo’s co-opting the language of Occupy to portray his constituents as the spiteful global economic elite was outrageous. Calling the parents, business owners, residents, and NGO’s who’ve reached out to him “bullies” had a lot of normally level headed folks steaming with anger and frustration. Get rid of this diagonal parking plan? No, get rid of Cedillo! Chale con Cedillo! Organizing for Sundays protest began in earnest later that day.
After leaving the Flying Pigeon bike shop on Sunday morning, the ride made its way down to a quiet City Hall. Our ranks grew to a little over 40 people while the banner reading “WE ARE NOT BULLIES WE ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS” was unfurled facing Grand Park.
#ChaleConCedillo taking it to city hall. We're not bullies! We want #fig4all http://t.co/ap96zAOzSZ—
(@corvus6775) January 04, 2015
The face of a bully @flyingpigeonla @fig4all #ChaleConCedillo #fig4all #roadkillgil http://t.co/EsEVc42Q9B—
Jack Moreau (@JackFromNELA) January 04, 2015
Some speeches were made and photos were taken before the ride trundled through the 2nd Street tunnel; a bike pulling our PA system blasted Springsteen’s “Born to Run” as the ride howled like a pack of coyotes, looking for strength in our numbers as we emerged onto S. Figueroa. A quick right onto Beaudry and we were in front of the Canvas LA apartments, alleged home of one Gilbert Cedillo.
#ChaleConCedillo #Fig4ALL http://t.co/dxFXfwLCwt—
(@fig4all) January 04, 2015
Disregarding advice from insiders that the councilman merely paid the rent and collected mail at this address while living outside the district in a condo in Pasadena, we parked our bikes against the curb and raised hell. Our die-in was just about over when an LAPD cruiser pulled up and asked us just what, exactly, we were up to?
A few minutes later we were going our separate ways: a diner, back home, the train, more riding. I made my way into Chinatown and bought $40 in take-out dim sum (that is A LOT of food!) and caught up with those choosing to have some brunch after our excursion. It was all smiles, as is typical at bike rides, parties, and protests in Los Angeles – why let the creeps get you down?
Keep smiling in 2015 and don’t forget: Chale con Cedillo!