Witnessing the Slow Violence of the Supply Chain

2014: Warehouses dominate Inland Southern California and encroach upon homes and open space; Mira Loma Village.

Courtesy of Jesse Kaplan, Los Angeles.

Vistas of citrus groves helped promote the region as the Orange Empire by the 1910s.
 
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Vistas of citrus groves helped promote the region as the Orange Empire by the 1910s.

Courtesy of The Claremont Colleges Library, David Boulé California Citrus Collection.

Warehouse workers block truck traffic, choking the supply chain to advocate for labor rights, 2009.
 
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2009: Warehouse workers block truck traffic, choking the supply chain to advocate for labor rights.

Courtesy of Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

The Problem
The Roots
The Solutions

60 miles east of LA and the busiest ports in the U.S., goods movement dominates the lives of Riverside and San Bernardino County residents. At work, community members toil in unstable, underpaid, and physically demanding warehouse jobs. At home, they breathe air polluted by diesel trucks, trains, and planes, which continually move goods through the area. Over time, these conditions enact a slow violence damaging both bodies and minds.

Once an “inland empire” of citrus groves and packing houses, the region has shifted from agriculture to defense industries to logistics. Today, warehouses have overtaken the landscape at the expense of local environments and disproportionately harm working-class and majority-Latinx communities who live and work in the area.

“People over profits!” Communities along the supply chain recognize that change comes from collective struggle. We will continue to fight for clean air as a human right, the end of “diesel-death zones,” and secure jobs at livable wages.

In 2019, the Ports of Long Beach and LA were the busiest in the nation, and ninth in the world.
E-commerce has spawned an expansion of deskilled, temp warehouse jobs in unsafe settings, 2014.
The last groves of the citrus empire paved over for the new empire of logistics, Redlands, 2019.
Air cargo facilities promise additional pollutants even as the Zero Emissions movement grows, 2019.
Sign for World Logistics Center, erected despite ongoing challenges to the 40-million sq. ft. development, 2019.
In 2019, the Ports of Long Beach and LA were the busiest in the nation, and ninth in the world.
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In 2019, the Ports of Long Beach and LA were the busiest in the nation, and ninth in the world.

Courtesy of Port of Long Beach.

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2018: East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice “fight for life” along goods movement corridors

2018: Opposition to new warehouses in an already burdened area where rezoning creates displacement.
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2017: Playgrounds and schools are frontline to the diesel-death zone of freeways and railyards.

Courtesy of Brian Addison.

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2014: Isella Ramirez and LA’s toxic diesel-death zones

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2018: Opposition to new warehouses in an already burdened area where rezoning creates displacement.

Courtesy of Anthony Victoria, CCAEJ.

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2019: Mira Loma to Manzanar—the racialized roots of distribution, with Brinda Sarathy

E-commerce has spawned an expansion of deskilled, temp warehouse jobs in unsafe settings, 2014.
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2014: E-commerce has spawned an expansion of deskilled, temp warehouse jobs in unsafe settings.

© John Valenzuela/SCNG/ZUMA Press.

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2019: Modern Times—Amazon, automation, and surveillance, with Sheheryar Kaoosji

The last groves of the citrus empire paved over for the new empire of logistics, Redlands, 2019.
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2019: The last groves of the citrus empire paved over for the new empire of logistics, Redlands.

Courtesy of Prologis.

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1988/2019: Growing Warehouses, from citrus to logistics in Redlands

Air cargo facilities promise additional pollutants even as the Zero Emissions movement grows, 2019.
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2019: Air cargo facilities promise additional pollutants even as the Zero Emissions movement grows.

Courtesy of SkyHigh757 / CC-BY-SA 4.0.

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2019: Enough is enough! A new era of community coalitions oppose air cargo centers

Sign for World Logistics Center, erected despite ongoing challenges to the 40-million sq. ft. development, 2019.
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2019: Sign for World Logistics Center, erected despite ongoing challenges to the 40-million sq. ft. development.

Courtesy of Lee Hanover.

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2019: Aruna Prabhala on biological diversity imperiled by proposed mega warehouse

Our Point of View

University Partners
Community Partners

UCR is located within the nation’s largest inland port, which handles 40% of all consumer goods entering the U.S. at the Ports of LA and Long Beach. The warehouses, intermodal yards for truck-to-rail container transport, and air cargo facilities that dominate our region enable us to get our goodsfast. UCR students experience the impact first hand: we work some of those bad warehouse jobs, breathe the smog that regularly scores the Inland Empire failing grades in air quality, and sit in enough truck traffic to frequently claim that the global supply chain made us late for class.

—University of California, Riverside

Based in the Inland Empire, both CCAEJ and WWRC aim to develop grassroots leadership and collective responsibility among working-class people and communities of color affected by goods movement, which dominates the region. WWRC employs education, advocacy, and direct action to improve working conditions in Southern California’s warehouse industry. CCAEJ brings people together to improve our social and natural environment through strategic campaigns and by building a base of community power.

—Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)

Contributors

University Partners

University of California, Riverside

Faculty Project Directors Megan Asaka Cathy Gudis
Students Rudolph Bielitz Katrin Boniface Yvonne Chamberlain Emily Grucza Emily Guerrero Lee Hanover Margaret Hanson Sarah Junod Audrey Maier Andrew Snodgrass Gabriella Train Alyse Yeargan

Community Partners

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC)

Local Supporters

Relevancy & History Project partnership between UCR’s Public History Program and California Citrus State Historic Park
Teresa and Byron Pollitt Endowed Term Chair for Interdisciplinary Research and Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences