The winter 2016 Anti-Mall was in solidarity with Stop the Dakota Pipeline and Buy Back the Farm! (and there were multiple ways for guests to support them). Clemency for Leonard Peltier was also promoted. And as always, the Anti-Mall was a chance for shoppers to put their money into the activist-artist community and practice sustainable living (e.g., repairing more and throwing away less).
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December 18, 2016, CIELO galleries/studios, Los Angeles – The Anti-Mall (now over 15 years old) has become more holistic in countering the wasteful and polluting dominant culture. Besides circulating money to local activist-artists—“artivists”—rather than sweatshop products and other items shipped around the world and encased in plastic, Anti-Mall winter 2016 also included bartering (there was a Share or Trade table) and Dare to Repair (on hand was Black Kids on Bikes (see: https://www.facebook.com/groups/61886896636/) to help people fix bicycles and offer maintenance tips; an auto mechanic was also there). “I'm proud of little things I do,” said one speaker named Stephanie. “For example, I'm wearing Doc Martens that I've owned since 1996 [laughs], and I have shoes that I get rebought. Some people are going to be speaking about how to maintain your clothes and your shoes and also how to maintain your car. There's a car set up [pictured below].
”It's all about changing and shifting your culture from what might have been more 'American,' corporate, and consumer into buying less, keeping more things, fixing things, sharing things, trading things... That's a really good way to live your life. Someone [recently] used the term 'deathstyle.' Sometimes we can look at lives in that way. Is it a lifestyle or 'deathstyle'? Is the way we're living sustainable? And for a lot of people it's not, and that's why we're being forced to look at not only sustainable energy but also sustainable ways of attaining items. That's why I think this event is very beautiful.”
This Anti-Mall was in solidarity with the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota and the South Central Farm. There were continued calls for individuals to divest from banks invested in the North Dakota Pipeline. The South Central Farm is working as hard as ever to restore the farm to its original site and now has the funds to purchase the land. The site is still undeveloped, 10 ½ years after the defoliation and demolition, but the company that owns it, PIMA (Poetry, Image, Miss Me, and Active Wear) still hopes to build warehouses there. The Farm has slowed down these plans by appealing the Environmental Impact Reports, but they want to work with the owners of PIMA on a solution to satisfy both parties.
Also prominent at the Anti-Mall was appeals by Leonard Peltier's family to demand/request clemency for the wrongfully imprisoned political prisoner. Leonard's daughter Kathy Peltier was there along with her mother Anne Begay. Both asked people to call President Obama and urge him to grant clemency for Leonard. It's known by the Peltiers' lawyers that the FBI is meddling in the process (as it did when Bill Clinton started showing interest in pardoning Leonard circa 2000). Anne explained: “The Department of Justice is holding it [the petition for clemency] back because they got a letter from the FBI saying that they do not approve of this, and they will hold it from going forward. It's up to the people, it's up to us to continually write letters, write Obama.” White House phone: 1-202-456-1111 #FreeLeonardPeltier
Divesting from banks to stop North Dakota Access Pipeline
Even though the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has ordered a halt to pipeline construction, protectors, of course, can't afford to be complacent—especially with the new president coming in. Thus, the ongoing importance of divesting from banks supporting the project. People are being encouraged to both divest and photograph or video tape their bank and post it, accompanied by #DefundDAPL and #BankExit on DeFund DAPL's Facebook page It was reported that, to date, at least $20 million in small accounts have been closed by customers of participating banks (and of course celebrities, like Susan Sarandon, have been closing rather large accounts).
“The language that these corporations speak is money,” Stephanie continued, “and so that is how we have power, to move money more to community-based [institutions].” She herself has been in the process of parting with Chase. “For me personally it seemed like a big process to start closing out my account. I am in the process of closing it out; I opened a credit union account the other day, and it is a process. I need to switch over my direct deposit from my employer, I need to switch over my bills, I have another account for my band that I need to switch over. It's a process. . . . The credit union that I joined is the California Credit Union. It was originally opened for the teachers, and it's been open to the public for some time now. It can be overwhelming; for me it was.“ Yet she underscored the great importance of this action. Anti-Mall has been referring people to this site: http://www.defunddapl.org/.
Plan to restore the South Central Farm
As usual, the South Central Farm was selling food at the Anti-Mall, but there was also a display centered around a proposed restoration of the Farm at 41st and Alameda.
Rosa Romero, whose support of the Farm goes back to 2005 (she held many of the children's workshops on the premises, had a fruit orchard in the community garden, and lived there for many months), described the plan, which would now serve additional purposes. “What this proposal is is to still have community land plots for families but also have more community health features such as a community kitchen where people could learn cooking skills as well as we could possibly have an industrial kitchen, so if farmers in the area are at farmers markets and they have carrots they're not selling, we could lightly process them into like carrot sticks or turn salads into salad bags and then sell that locally. Because now that we've been local farming [in the San Joaquin Valley] and understand the reality of that more than just community farming, there's a lot of infrastructure needs in this area.
“Right now there are not so many farmers in the immediate area of Los Angeles, and so they're driving really far back and forth, sometimes two, sometimes four miles away as far as Bakersfield and San Diego. So we also want to have some kind of cold storage facility, so farmers don't have to go back and forth. So if they have a market Tuesday [and] Thursday, they can have a place to store on Wednesday.
“And then also have [the facility] as like an urban gardening demonstration site, so have a demonstration site where we show vertical gardening, where we show roof gardening, where we show rainwater catchment systems. So have a way for all the knowledge that we've gained here in gardening, how to farm in Southern California and have a site where people can go and actually learn how to do it themselves. So the idea is have community farm plots but also a learning classroom so people can bring that knowledge back to their communities and back to their own houses.”
The restored farm would serve the community and city in other ways, as Julia Jaye Posin, of the Bring Back the South Central Farm Campaign, explained. “Part of the vision is to look at ways to create jobs, educational opportunities, and research opportunities, and tourist opportunities, so it would be beneficial for the city. Think about how amazing of a tourist destination that would be. So it would be a combination of farming for the families and then open space accessible for anybody to come.
”There's an exercise station, so it promotes good health. There's an area where you can walk or jog, which is really valuable to have. I've run a lot. There's only certain places I like to go running because especially as a woman I don't feel safe in a lot of places.”
Meanwhile, the Farm is continuing to try and delay construction of the PIMA facility. However, “our main goal is we really want to talk to the owners and have them identify another site,” Rosa continued. “I'm not against their project; I think their project of 'made in L.A.' is a very worthwhile one*; I think they have good plans—but just not on this site. This is one of the last large, undeveloped pieces of land in Los Angeles, and I think that we need to keep it that way and find a way to really make it a community place again. Our message to them is, 'Do the right thing: sell us back the land so we can bring back the South Central Farm, make the profit that you want to make on it—we'll have the funding—and we'll help you find another suitable location to build your warehouse. We know that there's other locations in the immediate area for them to use—just not this site; it means too many things for too many people.” #BringBackTheFarm
Clemency, rather than a pardon, for Leonard Peltier
One of the emcees at the Anti-Mall said Leonard Peltier helped pave the way for what's now happening in North Dakota. “Before Wounded Knee, before all of that took place, it wasn't cool to be Indian; it was kind of looked down upon. But the movement in '73, the American Indian Movement, they've instilled pride in our people, so now we're proud to be Indian. And we owe a lot to people like Leonard Peltier.”
On stage was Kathy Peltier, Leonard Peltier's youngest daughter, and her mother Anne Begay (they also had a table). Kathy had to grow up visiting him in prison with guards present. The first time she ever met him was in a courtroom; she was nine months old. Her brother, Waha died just days ago (the funeral was the day before the Anti-Mall). She said Leonard was not allowed to attend his son's memorial—he was in lock-down as is often the case. Despite Leonard's considerable ailments and advanced age, the prison deemed him “a dangerous criminal” and thus ineligible for an outing. (Had he been able to attend, he would've had to wear an electric collar, be accompanied by marshals, and transported by plane—and the family would've had to pay the $10,000+ in expenses.)
“We're asking for clemency right now,” Anne said. “When we were up in Washington, D.C. the lawyers were saying a pardon would take way to long because they would have to go through legal documents and legal procedures. So we're just asking for everybody to get him clemency.” White House phone: 1-202-456-1111
Although the Anti-Mall is always free to enter, people could make donations, which were divided between Stop DAPL and Buy Back the Farm! The Anti-Mall has been held at numerous and diverse locations, including, La Culebra community space (more here), East LA's Chavez Studio (more here), and Cypress Park/Antigua Coffee House.
This article was written and photos processed in Linux Mint (non-proprietary software).
*Rosa elaborated: ”Their workers get treated well. I'm not calling what they do a sweatshop at all. I think they have a 'made in L.A.' label, which is hard to do and very important for us to be supporting. We want to support them but just not on this land. It's become a sacred site to so many people in Los Angeles.”