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National City community fights back against racist lowriding ban

On May 6, the National City, California, community and the United Lowrider Coalition held a cruising event for the first time in 30 years. The historic tradition of cruising that united the community and embraced Chicano culture has been banned in National City since 1992 due to racist discrimination. As the United Lowrider Coalition points out on their Facebook group page, this was the first city-wide ban on cruising in California.

In April, the United Lowrider Coalition, which is made up of the local lowrider community in National City, obtained a temporary permit to cruise in National City once a month for a trial period until October. After this trial ends, the city will assess whether or not they will allow cruises to continue.

The May 6 event was a success as hundreds of cars and families came together to participate in the festivities. Starting at Sweetwater High school, cars lined up on the streets of National City. The turnout for the event was bigger than expected, which shows how important cruising is to the community and the extent to which residents support the United Lowrider Coalition.

National City officials and the notoriously racist National City Police Department saw this as an opportunity to impose a hefty fee on future cruise organizers with a starting cost of $8,000 that could go up to $18,000 per event depending on the services requested by the city. The ridiculous fee would go to “police services” and “traffic control.” The coalition and city already came to an agreement that only required a small processing fee with no mention of further costs. The new fee effectively resumes the ban on cruising.

Alexis Monroy, a National City resident, told Liberation News, “Lowriding is an integral element of the city’s DNA and cultural heritage. The act of cruising is a generational expression of identity where vehicles are turned into works of art that resist the effects of erasure and forced assimilation.”

Lowriders at a Turning Wheel Project event at Chicano Park in Aug. 2021. Liberation photo

Monroy also criticized the actions of the police and local officials: “They are employing economic tactics as a method to try to end the efforts of cruising Highland. These actions by NCPD are yet another example of policing and restricting the movement of Brown and Black bodies.”

On May 27, the United Lowriders Coalition announced that they canceled the future three cruises that were planned through October, while promising to keep fighting back against National City’s racist ban on cruising.

The Black Lowriders Association of San Diego is hosting a Juneteenth unity car show and picnic on June 19 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Willie Henderson Park Sport Complex.

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