From Xispas Magazine blog post, June 13, 2006: www.xispas.com/blog/
South Central Farmers Evicted Today
Early this morning, at 5 PM, a squadron of helicopters, squad cars, and bulldozers came to remove the 350 families from Mexico and Central America who have made 14 acres in an urban blighted area into a garden oasis in South Central LA (41st and Alameda streets). The South Central Farm is the largest urban farm in the United States. Last reports were that bulldozers were tearing down the fences and tearing into the carefully plotted trees and plants.
This battle to save the amazing gardens and farm has been waged for weeks when a wealthy developer demanded to get the land back from the city so he can build warehouses and industrial sites (in an area chock full of warehouses and industrial sites). The farmers, however, have been on this land for 14 years.
Celebrities such as Darryl Hannah, John Quigley, and Danny Glover have recently taken part in supporting the farmers. All the protests in support of the farmers have been peaceful. The attack this morning shows that LA City, like most cities in this country, cater to the rich and powerful.
South Central LA needs another industrial development like a hole in the head. Any possible new jobs would be miniscule for the vast needs in this community. The farmers were creating their own healthy food source, working long hours, insuring the land would be used to help others.
One woman supporter of the farm, Rufina Juarez, on June 10 started a fast and sit-up on the tallest walnut tree, replacing Julia Butterfly, a renowned environmentalist.
The bulldozers and strong sheriff's presence is reminiscent of the Chavez Ravine evictions in the 1950s of mostly poor Mexicans that eventually laid the way for the building of Dodger Stadium. Mexicans and other poor people have been routinely evicted from their homes and creative work spaces throughout LA history.
In East LA, the largest Mexican community in the country, the building of several freeways for mostly suburban commuters in the 1950s and 1960s destroyed many other neighborhoods. More recently the largest housing projects west of the Mississippi were destroyed or renovated in East LA, and largely privatized, to remove most of the poor people (what we call the "Cabrini Greening" of America, after the planned destruction of subsidized poor people's housing in Chicago's large and mostly African American Cabrini Green Housing Projects for upscale townhouses and businesses).
This ongoing taking of land goes back to the Native removals, to the conquest of half of Mexico, to the removal of poor black and white sharecroppers in the South, and countless "urban renewal" projects in America's poor cities. All poor, regardless of color or nationality, have been affected. We must not let these kinds of removals continue in the name of "progress" (read: to enrich the coffers of the already wealthy).
The South Central Farmers represented self-determination and self-sufficiency. Now many of these families will probably need to be dependent on other people and industries for work and lodgings.
We need to spread the word about this outrage. The poor have to come together, organize, and win back their dignity and ability to rule and survive by their own means.