Activists say the 2028 Olympics could cause police militarization and increase disparity in L.A.’s low-income neighborhoods


Daniel Mendez

SoFi stadium under construction in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. The stadium will host the 2028 Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.

Trevor Morgan, Contributor

Amid a large scale advertising campaign, the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics are under intense scrutiny by a group called NOlympics L.A., who say the games will cause lasting effects including an increase in police militarization and racial disparity.

L.A.’s official Olympic organization, LA28, released their new dynamic logos featuring an animated and everchanging “A” created by athletes, artists and celebrities like Simone Manuel and Billie Eilish. The logo is meant to represent Los Angeles as a diverse and constantly changing city.

Despite the light-hearted ad campaign, organizations like NOlympics L.A. are already critical of the event’s potential consequences.

The organization was founded in 2017 by members of the Democratic Socialists of America and advocates against the Olympic Games in any city that hosts it.

“We’re for the abolition of the Olympics,” said Albert Corado, a member of NOlympics L.A. “We’re definitely not reformists — we know reform doesn’t work.”

The games will be designated a National Special Security Event. According to the Department of Homeland Security, an NSSE is an event with a high turnout and extra security risks are expected, such as the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby. This designation opens up more resources from local and national police forces.

The fear of increased police presence at the games comes during a time of protests calling for the defunding of the Los Angeles Police Department and other law enforcement agencies as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in L.A.

When asked about these concerns, LA28 stated that with the Olympics “being eight years out, we’re still in early stages of planning.”

NOlympics L.A. argues that venues like the recently constructed SoFi stadium in Inglewood, which is set to host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Olympics, shows the City’s lack of regard for surrounding communities.

According to the Los Angeles Times, housing prices in Inglewood have soared since the construction of the stadium began, with some residents reporting a rent increase of over 100%.

Signs outside of SoFi Stadium that inform people to practice social distancing and other various ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Daniel Mendez)

NOlympics L.A. claims that the venue raised housing prices for minority groups in the area, thus driving many of them out. Black and Hispanic residents make up the majority of the Inglewood population at 42% and 49.9% respectively, according to Census Bureau data.

“Not only is (SoFi) a death machine for COVID-19, it’s also driving people out of Inglewood,” Carado said. “I think it’s a dream that people are gonna be able to stay there.”

LA28 has said that the city will use existing venues instead of constructing new facilities. However, the city will be constructing temporary venues that can be disassembled following the closing ceremony.

Max Felker-Kantor, visiting assistant teaching professor of history and African American studies at Ball State University and author of “Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD,” pointed to an increase in arrests of minority citizens, reported “gang sweeps” and military-grade equipment being supplied to the LAPD during the city’s hosting of the 1984 Olympics as an example of what could happen in 2028.

“What you see is a ramping up for the Olympics,” Kantor said, referring to the 1984 games. “Lots of overtime being paid, lots of new equipment … The deployment is massive.”

The same model of armored vehicles used during the games was later used to access suspected “crack houses” in low-income L.A. neighborhoods following the Olympics.

The city of Los Angeles has not yet announced what measures will be taken or the specifics of their budget on policing and security for the 2028 games. However, Mayor Eric Garcetti has said that L.A. will receive federal support for security and that the games could bring in $1 billion in profits.

Garcetti’s office has not responded to The Sundial’s requests for comment.