LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2006 – Council member Dennis Zine paid an unexpected visit to the South Central Farm last Tuesday night. According to the farmers he circled the farm in an unmarked police car with two other police officers at about 10 pm Tuesday night. The car apparently caused concern for the farmers and they went to investigate. What occurred next has become the subject of controversy between the councilman and the farmers. The farmers are claiming that during the course of events one of the police officers pointed a gun at the 13 year old daughter of one of the farmers.
This Wednesday morning in council chambers during public comments the farmers questioned Zine about the incident. Zine broke with council protocol and gave a direct response to farmer’s comments. Zine acknowledged his visit to the farm and explained his version of the incident. Zine stated that he was on patrol as a LAPD reserve officer in the area and that he took some time to drive around the block to look at the farm. He said that the car he was in was tailgated. The officer driving stopped the car and as they exited their vehicle they were approached by a group asking them what were they doing there.
Zine stated that he “…went down there with good intentions to see [their] plight”. Zine claims the farmers harassed him. He said “…if that’s the welcoming committee that we get from the farmers, I’m not going to listen to the farmers, I’m not going to support the farmers” Zine claimed he never saw a gun and he never pulled a gun.
Zine may not have made the best choice of transportation or time of day to make his unannounced visit to farm. The situation has been tense at the farm. For the past 9 months farmers have been camping out to defend the farm from the threat of forced evictions and the destruction of their farm.
The farmers have stated that had they been given some advance notice of Zine’s plans to visit the farm, the incident could have been avoided. For over three years, the farmers have been extending invitations to all council members to visit the farm. Last Tuesday night’s visit is the first known visit to the farm by any city council member. The farmers say the invitation still stands.