Less than 24 hours after a 75-year old woman was killed and a 19-year old young man was placed in critical condition in separate incidents with the MTA's Blue Line, dozens of South LA community members concerned that the MTA's proposed light rail Expo Line would lead to similar fates walked out in protest of a community meeting in the auditorium of Leimert Park's Tom Bradley Elementary School after their insistent request for an open public forum for questions and answers was denied by Expo Line project mangers.

The community meeting, conducted by the Expo Line Construction Authority, was intended to discuss the proposed movement of one of the power substations along the route for the proposed $858 million dollar light rail project currently under construction from downtown to Culver City. But when the room was told about the previous day's accidents and the history of substations on MTA's other light rail lines catching fire, the room demanded an on the record question and answer period, only to be forcibly denied by the Expo Authority.

"We were told that if we wanted to have our comments recorded we had to go in the corner and a court reporter would write them down," said Jackie Ryan of Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition. "I was completely insulted," she continued. "They would light the place on fire if they tried to do that in other cities."

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Tuesday night's meeting was the second Expo Line community meeting in South LA in the past week in which attendees vocally objected to the Expo Authority's refusal to answer questions in an open forum. After a lengthy powerpoint presentation on April 1 at Holman United Methodist Church, the audience erupted in anger to what they described as "divide and conquer tactics" when an Expo Authority public relations representative told the audience to address their questions to the several Expo Line employees on the outskirts of the room.

"It's clear that they don't want to answer the tough questions in front of the entire community, and want to discourage people from speaking out," said Damien Goodmon of the Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Line. "The facts are what they are: this line is designed primarily like the MTA's Blue Line, which at over 91 deaths and 802 accident is the deadliest light rail line in the country. Unless our politicians force a redesign of the primarily street-level running in South LA, people in our community will die - children will die."

"Where are our elected representatives," asked a Baldwin Vista resident at Tuesday's meeting. When it was announced that Bernard Parks, Yvonne Burke, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson all sit on the Board of Directors of the Expo Authority and that community leaders have spent over a year attempting to persuade the Board to have public forums, the resident responded, "If they're treating us like this, they need to be replaced."

Mr. Goodmon announced that the community group expects to finalize an agreement with a "very prestigious" law firm to represent the large and growing community coalition by the end of next week. "Like black and brown leaders before us we're going to have to go to court for justice," he said. "The difference is, we're not going to court to fight white racist politicians, we're going to fight politicians of our own color."