LA birthplace becomes battleground over history





Inside his trinket shop in the city's El Pueblo historic district, Mike Mariscal is surrounded by painted masks, woven blankets and Day of the Dead figurines he's long sold to tourists.

Mariscal fears his own day of reckoning is near as a series of disputes surround the adobe buildings, shops and Mexican-era churches in an increasingly trafficked corner of the city's revitalizing downtown.

One dustup is over Indian graves unearthed during construction of a Mexican-American cultural center. Another involves a monument to Hispanic war heroes where the original Chinatown once stood.

And Mariscal and dozens of merchants along El Pueblo's shopping street who have sold tacos and Mexican knick-knacks - along with more conventional tourist-zone schlock like knockoff designer bags and movie posters - for decades claim city rent hikes could sever their historical attachment to the site.

"I believe that the long-range plan is probably to run us all out of here," said Mariscal, 55, who wore a threadbare pleated guayabera shirt. "It'll kill me."...


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