76.7 F
San Fernando
Thursday, May 19, 2022

Advocate Seeks Change in the Valley Via 501(c)(3)

 Latora Green has been protesting police brutality and institutional racism on the steps of the Sherman Oaks Galleria for 176 consecutive days.To passersby, her raised fist and smiling face have become a familiar sight. On some days, she’s surrounded by throngs of like-minded protestors hoisting signs and chanting along; other times, she’s by herself. Either way, her presence at the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard between noon and 8 p.m. is all but certain.Green first went out May 31 – two days after losing her job in human resources due to the coronavirus pandemic – to join the protests of the death of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

“I was tired of it,” she said. “I wanted my voice to be heard.”But where most protestors retreated back home or to work a few weeks later, Green did not.“The forces of oppression never take a day off, so the forces of liberation must not either,” she said. “I believe in consistency. When you go out and protest for a few days and then it stops – they want you to forget about it. …  But consistency for me is being out there even if I’m by myself.”Early in her campaign she met Reggie Watkins, an actor and fellow community organizer. After discussing their ideas, the two decided to establish a business structure around their mission of using direct action and political advocacy to support black and indigenous people living in the Valley.

Green filed in late June to become a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt nonprofit under the moniker The Valley of Change.

“I always knew I wanted to do a nonprofit, it was just the timing of it. This was the right time,” Green said.

For now, the organization is fully funded by community donations, including in-kind drop-offs at the Galleria protests. Every dollar raised is fed back into the group’s programs and events including monthly food drives, community cleanups and health kit giveaways. A Thanksgiving meal drive Nov. 14 fed more than 700 unhoused and food insecure Valley residents – by far the largest turnout for the organization to date.Green’s unwavering dedication is making waves locally.

Her protests have yielded two visits from Congressman Brad Sherman and one from City Councilmember-elect Nithya Raman, who earlier this month unseated incumbent David Ryu for control of the District 4 seat.Green said she intends to meet with both officials to discuss policies and programs that could help the homeless, create affordable and accessible housing options, promote mental health care and uplift black-owned businesses in Sherman Oaks and throughout the Valley.Green said she believes the pandemic has roused something within people; that the convergence of mass layoffs, months of economic turbulence and several consecutive high-profile police killings have caused many to reassess what is important to them and pursue action that they feel has a positive social impact – herself included. At the same time, remote work trends have enabled people to use daylight hours in ways they wouldn’t have been able to before.“If it wasn’t for the coronavirus, I wouldn’t have been out there. A lot of people wouldn’t have been out there. … I would be working right now if it wasn’t for COVID-19,” she said.

At this early stage, The Valley of Change has no payroll, no funding outside of community donations and Green and Watkins aren’t taking salaries.All in good time, Green said.

“I want to have shelters for those that are in need; affordable housing; help people with resumes and dress for success. I also want to bring teachers on and help with tutoring. There’s a big picture. It’s about building up the community and you do need that structure.”

Featured Articles

Related Articles