Upon the realization that their neighborhood was poisoned, the residents of Gordon Plaza began a long struggle for a fair and fully funded relocation that continues today. Initially, they organized around their shared experiences of living in a toxic environment—the smells, digging up garbage in their gardens, and ongoing struggles with illness and death. In 1994, the residents formed the Concerned Citizens of Agriculture Street Landfill and began to forge their own path to safety. Their fight has consisted of numerous public protests, petitioning city mayors and government officials, awareness actions, media outreach, and evidence gathering, all eventually leading to the pending class-action lawsuit against the city of New Orleans.
As much as this is a story of decades of struggle, it is also a story of possibility and the reclaiming of power by strong Black women. Like many fights for environmental justice and civil rights around the world, the women of Gordon Plaza have led the way for relocation. Resident Shannon Rainey and the community organization known as the Residents of Gordon Plaza have teamed up with The People’s Assembly, a New Orleans-based movement for economic, racial, and environmental justice, to continue their fight.
In a message posted on social media in July 2019, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “to the residents of Gordon Plaza, I hear you. I am working on a resolution. I appreciate your advocacy. We will create change together.”