LA: South Central farmers evicted
First from CBS, June 13, via Chiapas95:
LOS ANGELES Dozens of people have been arrested for allegedly violating a court order and obstructing sheriff's deputies from evicting farmers and supporters from a 14-acre urban garden near downtown Los Angeles.
About 20 demonstrators chained themselves to each other, a walnut tree and large concrete-filled barrels inside the garden. Actress Daryl Hannah and activist John Quigley are in the tree and say they plan to stay there even as authorities begin to cut its limbs.
In recent weeks, a host of celebrities have visited the farm in a show of support. Most recently, singer Willie Nelson stopped by. Others who have been on hand included Joan Baez, Danny Glover, Amy Smart, Laura Dern and Ben Harper.
Officials say about 65 deputies along with riot forces showed up about daybreak Tuesday morning to enforce the eviction order signed by a judge last month.
Owner and developer Ralph Horowitz said he would sell 10 acres to the farmers for $16 million, but the farmers, with the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other celebrities, have been unable to come up with the asking price.
Supporters of the 350 farmers who have been working the land say it is the largest urban farm in the country.
Next, from a local activist in LA, also via Chiapas95:
At 5:00 a.m. this morning, about 150 LAPD surrounded South Central Farm in Los Angeles and began the forcible eviction of the largest urban garden in the United States. A nonviolent direct action defense of the land (probably 10-40 people in lock-downs seen in forest defense) is in progress as I write you. However, the campesinos want and need help from everyone in the nation who support the Farm, its vision of the world, and the 350 families it feeds regularly.
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO CALL L.A. MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA! (213) 978 0600, email email@example.com
Typically, I would place more hope in direct action but the survival of the Farm for three years after eviction papers were served has been the result of massive political pressure, public outcry, and media coverage.
IF YOU HAVE ANY MEDIA CONTACTS, PLEASE USE THEM TO HELP SAVE THE FARM BY ADVOCATING A CALL-IN/EMAIL CAMPAIGN!
Also, if you know good people in L.A. please tell them about the supporters' convergence outside the Farm's fence at 41st Street and Alameda, Los Angeles, CA 90058.
The good news: no reports of police brutality as of yet... somewhat surprising when you consider the way the cops usually operate it in this area--with complete impunity, especially when their targets are young people of color as in this case.
See southcentralfarmers.com for more info, though their updates tend to be terse press releases and small blurbs.
You can also contact the "developer" Ralph Horowitz at his office (310)440-7878 although keep in the mind that the campesions elected to follow the most stringent code of nonviolence, excluding even impolite language.
Received by e-mail from Dawna Shulman of Lighthouse PR:
L.A. COUNTY SHERIFFS EVICT THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS IN EARLY MORNING RAID
***NEWS FLASH - 8:59am, 8 people have been carried out on stretchers and they have started to bull doze the land!
WHAT: Hundreds of officers with the Los Angeles Sheriff department swarmed onto the peaceful, non-violent South-Central Farmers garden at 5:15am today accompanied by six helicopters buzzing over the sleeping supporters.
Supporters of this 14 acre organic farming community remain outside the locked-down area on the street chanting their protest of this forceful action while 20 are still inside the farm.
Dozens of supporters have been living on the land, sleeping in tents, and taking turns living in the Walnut tree on the premise while fasting to show solidarity with the Farmers. Julia-Butterfly Hill just came down last week after fasting for 23 days. Several celebrities have shown up in the last few weeks -- Willie Nelson, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Ed Begley, Jr, Joan Baez to name a few.
As of this time, Daryl Hannah and aerial artist John Quigley are up in the Walnut tree refusing to come down. 20 campers on the land have locked themselves to benches, fences and the base around the tree while L.A. County Sheriffs are attempting to saw their locks off.
Yesterday, a peace offering of organic flowers and fresh produce from the Farm was presented to the developer, Ralph Horowitz at his offices in Brentwood, California and to Mayor Antonio Villagairosa at City Hall. Their response to this appears to be this early morning raid.
Citizens are frustrated with the Mayor because of his apparent lack of political leadership in this, even though he has publicly stated supported of the Farm in the last few weeks.
The Farm supporters are asking people to:
1. Call City Hall to ask that Mayor Villaraigosa step up and exhibit
political leadership and interfere with the eviction. PH: 213-978-0600
2. Come down to City Hall to express their support.
Address: 200 N. Spring Street - Los Angeles, CA 90029
3. Come to the Farm to Protest this oppressive and destructive action against the Farmers and their supporters
The South Central Farm, a 14-acre green oasis in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, is in danger of being lost to warehouse development. This community
garden has been operated mainly by Latino immigrants for more than a decade and has become an important part of the culture and open space in Los Angeles.
In 1992, the Farm was created in response to the Rodney King uprising to help develop and align the local South-Central community. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank signed a lease with the city of Los Angeles to set aside the South Central Farm as a community garden. Since then more than 350 impoverished families have banded together as the South Central Farmers to transform an industrial dump into an urban paradise. These families have been successfully augmenting their household food supply with the resultant harvest.
But in 2003 the city sold the land to a private developer to build warehouses. The community was outraged, and the farmers refused to leave the land while they tried to raise the money to buy the property themselves. For the last several weeks -- in the face of a deadline to come up with the money or be evicted -- the farmers, with the help of appeals by activists and celebrities, worked around the clock and successfully raised the money to purchase the property. At last report, the Annenburg Foundation had offered to help raise the 15 million to purchase the land but it seems responding to pressure, the developer has changed his mind and decided not to sell the land to the farmers after all.
See our last post on the South Central Farms.