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National Latino Congreso Delegates put Councilperson Jan Perry on Notice

by Tezozomoc Saturday, Sep. 16, 2006 at 8:28 PM

Delegates unanimously endorsed a resolution specifically calling for the City of Los Angeles, City Attorney, Councilperson Perry, Mr. Horowitz to 1) drop all charges against the non-violent civil resisters; 2) for Councilperson Perry to cease her political black mail of Mr. Horowitz, and 3) that all parties should come to the table and negotiate “in good faith” to restore the South Central Farm to the South Central Farmers and the community.

SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS

Press Release

Friday, September 15, 2006



National Latino Congreso Delegates put Councilperson Jan Perry on Notice

Delegates unanimously endorsed a resolution specifically calling for the City of Los Angeles, City Attorney, Councilperson Perry, Mr. Horowitz to 1) drop all charges against the non-violent civil resisters; 2) for Councilperson Perry to cease her political black mail of Mr. Horowitz, and 3) that all parties should come to the table and negotiate “in good faith” to restore the South Central Farm to the South Central Farmers and the community.



Los Angeles – the South Central Farmers, an organization of approximately 350 Meso-American families who had farmed a 14-acre piece of land located at 41st and Alameda Ave. in Los Angeles were threatened with seizure and removal from their land by the City of Los Angeles and a “strip-mall” private developer Ralph Horowitz. All these families and the local community depended heavily on their approximately 900 square foot plot of this land to grow food to feed themselves; many of the farmers who had plots at this urban farm had been working continuously there for more than 14 years; and the 14-acre farm in the middle of South Central Los Angeles had been of the largest of its type in the nation and was well known for being a productive and beneficial use of open green space in a densely populated urban metropolis.

Unbeknownst to the members of the South Central Farmers, in 2003 the City of Los Angeles, which held title to the urban farm property, entered into secret negotiations to sell the property to a “strip-mall” private developer. The City Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, was simultaneously advocating for development of the urban farm and litigating against the real estate developer. While Judge W. Crispo had ruled 3 times against Ralph Horowitz, real estate developer, the city attorney recommended that the land be sold back to Horowitz. It was later discovered that the Horowitz interest made several thousand dollars contribution to Mr. Delgadillo’s campaign. In October 2003, the farmers learned for the first time that the City, ignoring completely their wishes and their ability to raise public awareness and gather support for continued use of the property as an urban farm, was about to transfer title to a private party. The farmers mobilized immediately to prevent the sale, but the City kept them in the dark and allowed the sale to go through. In selling the property, the City wasted taxpayer money because the farmers, if they been given proper notice, would have been able to find a benefactor interested in seeing that the land remain as an urban farm.

The South Central Farmers were raising crops not normally available in Los Angeles, including plants, herbs used in traditional medicine, trees and vegetables indigenous to Meso-America.

The South Central Farmers were asked to raise 16.3 Million dollars through a coalition of community, foundations, and politicians. Horowitz sought .3 million for the property, the current value being more then three times the 1986 eminent domain valuation. This figure is .3 million more than Horowitz paid when he purchased it from the L.A. Harbor Department in 2003. In a deal brokered in cooperation by The Trust for Public Land, the South Central Farmers have themselves had successfully raised a little over six million dollars. Fundraising efforts continued as farmers and celebrities had begun both a tree sitting campaign and encampment of the land, while under the threat of forced eviction by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department.

On June 7, 2006, the Annenberg Foundation announced that they would donate the money to buy the farm. Horowitz, however, did not respond to the offer on threats from Councilperson Perry. Perry’s threat jeopardized Mr. Horowitz’s future business in the 9th district.

On June 13th, 2006, 280 Sheriff’s and LAPD officers in full riot gear evicted farmers, supporters, and celebrity supporters, culminating in over 44 arrests in support of protecting the South Central Farm. Additionally, on July 5th, 2006, an additional 10 youths were arrested attempting to protect the South Central Farm when it was being razed on orders from Councilperson Perry.

Tezozomoc, elected representative of the South Central Farmers commented, “I am glad that Latinos across the nation are recognizing how our elected council person has failed Latinos in the 9th district, but we don’t feel alone because councilperson Perry has also failed the African-Americans too. There will be new coalitions forming and there will be a political price to be paid. There are serious discussions in the community amongst Blacks and Latinos about recalling Councilperson Perry. The community can not afford another 2 years of community de-investment.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters commented on July 9 on the destruction, "This could have been avoided. …we intend to get this land back. LA City Hall and Horowitz could have done better than this. The sight of this devastation is overwhelming and unconscionable…”

The National Latino Congreso is convened by a number of organizations including the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), and the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI).

Delegates at daily plenary sessions passed over 70 resolutions, including support for a moratorium on deportations of immigrants, voting rights, election reform, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, the Employee Free Choice Act, increasing the minimum wage, social justice and economic equality and mass voter mobilization drives to make an impact on Nov. 7.

###

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