Barrio Duranguito battles the city sports arena
December 6, 2016
This day marks the day I chose to jump into the battle helping to save the residents, history and culture of El Paso’s First Ward aka Barrio Duranguito. It was on the heels of a rally held in the neighborhood.
I wrote up a James No Bond blogpost that night trying to give people a vision of the humanity of the neighborhood.
The original post can be read here – IS IT PROGRESS?
Ongoing James No Bond blogpost series – El Paso’s Arena Fustercluck Parts 1 – 6
I have been predicting, chronicling and informing El Pasoans about the myriad issues surrounding the arena for several months now. Here are links to each blogpost, many of which I directly emailed to all city leaders so they can read or evade.
May 30, 2017
City leadership believed it would be a simple cut and dried process—offer the tenants some relocation assistance, pay property owners fair market value, and exercise eminent domain on any holdouts. I’m fairly certain they assured the investors the arena would move forward quickly with no headaches.
Resistance. Backlash. Protests. Neighborhood meetings. Bound and determined abuelitas. Blogposts. Ethics complaints. Texas Rangers. And a slew of other obstacles got in the way.
A fustercluck they could not have imagined...
June 1, 2017
The 2012 bond as stated by our city leaders is a binding contract between El Paso taxpayers and the City. El Pasoans agree to fork up X amount of our hard-earned tax dollars in exchange for the City providing us with Quality of Life projects A, B and C.
Have you heard that the City came up short on some of these projects because they were incorrectly quoted (code for under-estimated)?..
June 4, 2017
Newly elected Mayor X and Council Y will soon inform us that the 180 million will get us the plain vanilla version that will likely come in over budget, BUT if we issue more bonds—maybe $120,000,000 additional, we can pimp out the arena and be like all the other cities with low self esteem and high property tax rates. After all, we do things right in El Paso, even if it massively costs the masses.
We’ll scrape, cobble, scratch, dig and suck every last penny we don’t have to get what we don’t need...
August 24, 2017
The great and terrible Judge Meachum from the Land of Travis County has spoken.
And she determined the City of El Paso cannot build an arena with the typical apparatus that would allow it to offer larger scale sporting events.
Could this be the last gasp, kiss of death, convulsion moment for the multi-purpose entertainment complex turned sports arena that’s trying to swallow up Duranguito?
October 13, 2017
Mayor Dee Margo, who I believe to be a Republican Trojan Horse with the ultimate goal of Republicanizing liberal-leaning El Paso, has always advocated for the destruction of Barrio Duranguito. As a businessman sitting in the mayor’s seat, he is leading the charge to tear it down and begin building the obscene monument to fiscal stupidity and wholesale historical malpractice on behalf of his wealthy downtown property owning friends...
Barrio Duranguito vs. the city sports arena PHOTO SERIES
One week in the life and death and life of El Paso’s First Ward. September 11 - 16, 2017
This ugly battle has been going on since the City first declared that a gargantuan “sports arena” questionably voted on during the 2012 Quality Of Life bond election would be displacing residents and paving over El Paso’s oldest history, heritage, culture and legacy.
It is a battle between weak and historically-challenged politicians and the wealthy downtown property owners and special interests who fund their campaigns against enlightened El Pasoans who understand the value of preserving our history and culture represented within this unique and singular neighborhood.
I’ve documented a dramatic week in this battle via my photography, writing and a 14-minute mini-documentary that I produced including film, photographic images and interviews I conducted with well known activists Hector González of Lincoln Park Community Center and Dr. Self A. Chew, PhD. (video link at bottom)
September 11, 2017 – Resistance by the people
The City of El Paso is attempting to begin the demolition process of various historic buildings within Barrio Duranguito. A legal battle between city leaders against historic preservationists and social activists protecting the neighborhood has been waged for several weeks now. After a day of legal trickery by the City attorneys, the historic preservationists get the upper hand and win an injunction that prohibits the City from proceeding with demolition.
Dozens of Barrio Duranguito supporters, advocates and activists spend hours rallying on site where the City has placed chainlink and tractors at the ready for destruction as a psychological tactic to intimidate us.
The attempt falls short as people young and old banded to remove all the chainlink and call for removal of the tractors and 18-wheelers.
Late in the evening we get word that judges declare an injunction prohibiting the city from proceeding with the destruction of the historic neighborhood. People celebrate as tractor-trailers back out and remove the tools of mass demolition from the barrio.
September 12, 2017 – Barrio Duranguito under assault
A day after the city issued a court order to stop demolition amid shouts of victory by the people, the slumlord owners of the building had a wrecking crew surreptitiously show up in the morning hours of Tuesday, September 12 and commence to violate the court order. More than likely, city leaders fully expected and may have even hoped this would happen because of the pressure they put on the property owners to demolish their structures prior to closing the sale. The property owners/slumlords Alejo Restrepo and Dr. Nassim Assael stand to make infinitely much more money than the fine levied for demolishing against court order.
The Bobcats owned by the wrecking crew they hired punched major structural damage to supporting walls of each property in the effort to render them useless and effectively end the standoff between Barrio Duranguito supporters and the City.
This day brought several dozen armed policemen, many in full riot gear to again intimidate neighborhood supporters and protectors. While the city claimed they were there to protect the citizens, many of the officers threatened mass arrest of the neighborhood protectors. Chainlink was once again setup around the perimeter to enclose all citizens who arrived there to protect the neighborhood. People were allowed out but not in. They would not even allow food to be brought to those who stayed. If a person needed to go to the bathroom, they would not be allowed back in.
September 13 - ?
Directly following the demolition assault, supporters and activists coordinated to take round the clock shifts on site to assure that wrecking crews didn’t show up again for another attempt to demolish the embattled historic buildings. People have been supporting them by joining and bringing much needed supplies and sustenance. There is a festive and family atmosphere here at any time of the day or night, with people playing music, singing, dancing, Lotería, and building relationships under a common cause.
14 minute mini-documentary — Save El Paso’s Barrio Duranguito. Kill the arena.
A mini-documentary chronicling 2 days in the life/death/life of El Paso’s oldest historical and cultural neighborhood. It is under siege by spineless local city politicians and the tiny fractional minority of wealthy downtown property owners, real estate investors and special interests who fund their political campaigns and hook them up.
Video film, photography concept and production by Jud Burgess