Los Angeles Parks Commission Approves AIDS Memorial Amid Controversy
The Los Angeles County Recreation and Parks Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to approve the construction of a "controvers[ial]" AIDS memorial in Lincoln Park in northeast Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports. Richard Zaldivar, a resident of the area, conceived of the project, titled "The Wall -- Las Memorias," nine years ago as an effort to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among Latinos in the community (Fellers, Los Angeles Times, 3/21). The memorial, which would commemorate Latinos and non-Latinos who have died of AIDS-related illnesses, would include a rose garden, benches, a walking path, a sculpture and eight wall panels where the names of those who have died would be listed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/18). Some critics said that a public park is an "inappropriate location" for such a "somber" monument, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 3/21). Opponents also said that the memorial would "destroy green space" in an area of the city that has little to spare (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/18). Zaldivar said that the main purpose of the monument is to prevent the names of children and parents who use the park from ending up on the wall, adding, "The real killer of this is the phobia." The project must still receive approval from the mayor, the city attorney and the City Council, steps that supporters view as formalities. The final approval steps and the construction of the monument must be completed quickly, as the group's $344,000 appropriation from the state's general fund must be spent by June 30 or the funds could be lost. Zaldivar was "confident" that the construction would begin by May in order to meet the deadline, according to the Times. Opponents said that they would continue to fight the project (Los Angeles Times, 3/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.