Monday, 5-29-06 - Encampment at the South Central Farm – Day 8
Today marks the first full week of the encampment at the farm. News of the fight to save the farm went international this week. Tree sitters: Julia Butterfly Hill, John Quigley, Daryl Hannah and Joan Baez still occupy the large old walnut tree on the farm. It has been learned that in addition to her tree sit, Julia has been fasting for the past 14 days. She reportedly is only drinking an infusion of herbs grown on the farm. The farm has been surveyed by botanists who believe it has the largest collection of Mezo-American medicinal herbs outside of Central America.
In this last week the encampment has tripled in size. The tent city surrounding the farm has grown to 32 tents at last count, each with 2 to 3 campers, while others sleep in the open air. The full time population of the farm is now estimated to be over 100, with numbers approaching 300 to 400 at nightly vigils and concerts. More continue to arrive has word spreads.
Life on the farm has settled into a daily routine of morning press conferences, afternoon affinity group meetings and training sessions. Vigils are held every evening at 7:00 and followed by concerts into the night. Late nights and early mornings have shifts of people on watch should there be a surprise raid by authorities.
Free organic food, much of it grown on the farm, is served throughout the day. The outpouring of support has been amazing. Supporters continue to come and donate supplies. Local TV news crews from both English and Spanish stations line 41st Street.
Sheriff presence has been light. There have been sheriff helicopter flyovers everyday, these are now thought to for surveillance and no longer spook the campers as they first did. No signs of preparations for a raid have been seen in the surrounding area.
The farm has become a focal point for much of Los Angeles’ local environmental activist community as well as the local music scene. Big names have made surprise appearances and the nightly concerts give the encampment the feeling of an outdoor music festival. The K-Town Critical Mass ride changed its normal route to visit the farm last Friday. The Los Angeles Green Party has committed many of its key members to the cause. The National Lawyers Guild has observers there. And the list of local grassroots groups expressing solidarity with the farmers is growing.
Political pressure to save the farm continues to grow as more people come out in support of the farmers. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is scheduled to appear at tomorrows press conference. The developer Ralph Horowitz continues to be the main obstacle in the fight to save the farm. There are reports that Horowitz has upped the asking price for the land from 16.5 million to 20 million. This move is seen by some has holding the farmers hostage to get a higher price. Some are questioning if fundraising is the best way to save the farm and that pushing for the city to use eminent domain again might be the best way to secure the future of the farm.
Regardless of the maneuverings by Horowitz for more money it seems that on the political side the farmers have found leverage by holding their ground and standing firm in their vow to resist forced eviction. The worldwide media attention and the political fault lines drawn by the issue have put the mayor’s office and the city council in a position where the fate of the farm and their own political standing are now intertwined.
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