July 23, 2007
To Whom It May Concern:
We, the below signed, are adult survivors of MacLaren Hall. We, as children, were warehoused in what can only be termed as an "asylum" or "concentration camp," as we were warehoused in the cheapest possible way, en masse, in MacLaren Hall, for decades, due to what adults did to
Because of wrongs done to us, as children, by adults, the State of California, and the County of Los Angeles, we request you hear our pleas today about the future of MacLaren Hall. Our stories of surviving MacLaren Hall are as hidden as all of our records from MacLaren Hall which the County claims it has "misplaced" and "lost." We are still dealing with the aftermath of the horrors of what we saw in MacLaren Hall as children and teens, in our adult years. In MacLaren Hall, children were brutalized, raped, molested, beaten, tortured, and yes, even killed.
Due to the extreme violence that occurred in the past on the grounds of MacLaren Hall, we are asking for special consideration before you move forward with changes to the buildings and land there, so soon after its closing in 2003. We, the survivors of MacLaren Hall, need closure and some form of acknowledgement before you move forward with any alteration or change of the MacLaren Hall site. As survivors of one of the most notoriously brutal child "protection" institutions in America, we request that survivors of MacLaren Hall be made an integral part of the decision-making process as to what is to become of the land and buildings at MacLaren Hall.
We, the actual survivors of MacLaren Hall's horror *know* that the buildings and land at MacLaren Hall are haunted by brutalized children's souls, every day and night. MacLaren Hall was a battle zone for thousands of children who survived and still remember what happened
there. Even as adults, many of us are still haunted by traumatic nightmares of the memory of children screaming in terror or grief as we cower in fear. To speak out loud of our experiences is devastating for many of us. We still have trouble even drawing pictures of what we saw. We sob when we try to testify about what we endured and what we witnessed, even though many of us are in our 50's! This tragedy did not end when those of us trapped in there "aged out" at 18. And the trauma stayed with us when we left. MacLaren Hall is a mark on all of us who experienced it first hand. It is time we are given a voice here.
Much as Native American gravesites are considered sacred, and just as Nazi concentration camp survivors fought to stop construction over past concentration camp sites, even after Nazis had razed the buildings and land to hide the atrocities that had existed there, there is a need for human dignity. For you to move forward with any change to that MacLaren Hall site without consulting us, the survivors, is an egregious insult that minimizes the abuse we endured at a government facility that was supposed to protect us.
As we said, the County already has denied all of us (who requested them) our records from MacLaren Hall. It implies that our tortured childhoods are irrelevant, unimportant. It adds insult to horrific injury. We are here, as a group, to tell you that the trauma MacLaren Hall created in *children's* lives, lives on in us AS ADULTS, for some of us some 40 years later!
We, the survivors feel you must not only consult us on what WE need from that site, but we feel that the State of California and County of Los Angeles have an obligation to give us the opportunity to find some type of healing or closure from what can only be deemed severe child abuse at the hands of Los Angeles County from the 1950's to the 2000's, at MacLaren Hall. To just move forward with that site, without consulting us completely disregards what we
children went through at the hands of the state, county and adults around us.
We have organized to give ONE VOICE to survivors so you cannot pretend this is just one person's complaint. We are organizing adult survivors of MacLaren Hall, we are pursuing legal representation as a class, and we need to be consulted if any action is taken regarding the MacLaren Hall site. We demand that the state and county fly ANY AND ALL of the MacLaren Hall survivors to the site for a memorial to the souls still trapped there, and to our souls that were severely damaged there.
We believe a PUBLIC APOLOGY from officials of Los Angeles County and the State of California for the abuse we endured as children, as well as the abuse we witnessed, is reasonable and appropriate. We demand we be allowed to put PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON RECORD, to testify as to the physical, sexual and psychological brutality we endured in MacLaren Hall, for the purpose of focusing public attention so that it does not occur again. We demand Los Angeles County and the State pay for all of our costs associated with therapy and treatment that we have incurred in an attempt to move on in our lives and to recover from the memories of what we experienced in MacLaren Hall as well as costs for the therapy and treatment for survivors who have not yet sought treatment.
We demand a "DAY OF REMEMBERANCE" at the MacLaren Hall site, as it is right now, before you make any changes to the site. We demand the State and County pay for every single cent involved with the trips for ANY MacLaren Hall survivor who would like to come to that remembrance day as well, as many of us live in other states now, yet spend our nights lost in nightmares at MacLaren Hall still We demand accountability and copies of our own records from the State regarding who had custody of us and why, for every week that we were in State custody, to give us the opportunity to further seek closure.
To date, not one MacLaren Hall survivor has been given a copy of their records from the period they were confined there. Many of us have filed all of the proper paperwork for these records with the County and were callously told that our records were misplaced, lost in a fire, etc. To
our knowledge, no one is making any effort to find them. To just erase our childhoods, and all records of all of the social workers, police, judges, etc. involved with our incarcerations in MacLaren Hall is appalling enough, then to erase the grounds now as well, is frighteningly similar to what the Nazi's did to cover up their torture and it raises red flags for us.
Children who were molested by Catholic priests in Los Angeles were allowed to sue the Catholic Church decades after the abuse, long after the statute of limitations (SOL) had expired, due to special waiving of the SOL by the State. We would like the state to waive the SOL on MacLaren Hall molestations, rapes, beatings, even deaths, as well so that we, too, can find closure and recover damages. We are writing you today to tell you we are here. We survived and we have vivid memories that are echoed in articles by journalists such as Ed Hume with the Los
Angeles Times. It is time we are respected, acknowledged and given our dignity back.
At this point, until the State can find its records of abuse for several decades at MacLaren Hall, the only decent use for that land is a MEMORIAL to foster kids and the unwanted children traumatized on those grounds, heartlessly, without any accountability on the part of the county, state, or adults involved, for decades, by the very people who were PAID to protect us. We, the survivors, need to be the DRIVING force behind what happens to the MacLaren Hall grounds.
We cannot risk more foster kids being tortured (under the guise of "helping" them) on that site. We cannot risk the loss of the records of new children brought to that site. Los Angeles County must have a realistic plan in place to prevent these abuses from occurring again.
We beg you listen to our pleas and to respect and acknowledge the suffering we, the survivors, endured at MacLaren Hall. We beg you finally give us the dignity we so fully deserve. We beg you listen to our demands and repay us with accountability and damages.
You can reach MacLaren Hall Survivors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirsten Anderberg, Seattle, WA
Roxanne Sterling-Astor, Ben Lomand, CA
Dove, Linden, TX
Carmelita Hill, Cookville, TN
Leslie O. Kloman, Aurora, CO
Robert Simmons, Danbury, CT
Dina Vidal, North Bergen, NJ