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Farmers Kicked Out of Community Farm in South-Central Los Angeles
Betrayed by Mayor Villaraigosa, Adherents to the Other Campaign On The Other Side, Together with Sympathizing Neighbors, Resist Riot Police and SWAT Attack
By Margarita Salazar
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign on the Other Side
June 13, 2006
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrived just before 5 a.m. to evict some 350 families – most of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America – who in the past 15 years have managed to transform an arid and abandoned plot of land into a celebrated and loved collective farm that produces fruits, vegetables, legumes and flowers for the benefit of the community.
The land held by the farmers had been abandoned for decades, but as a result of the popular uprising in 1992, the city government authorized the use of the land by those now evicted (the same year the city burst into flames with the acquittal of policemen for the brutal beating of Rodney King, an African-American).
Tezozomoc, a spokesperson for the farmers, said the aggression shown today would certainly unleash a strong sense of community discontent against the city government.
The government, headed by Antonio Villaraigosa, a politician of Mexican roots, did not keep its word to the farmers and denied them the economic and political support. Villaraigosa chose to award this support instead to the new owner of the property: real estate speculator Ralph Horowitz. Villaraigosa opted impress capital and sacrifice those with whom – when convenient – he shares a common heritage.
Horowitz was the original owner of the property and sold it to Los Angeles at the end of the 1980s for $4.7 million. But in 2003, Horowitz, in a typical sweetheart deal – or “behind closed doors,” as these acts of favoritism are sometimes called – regained 14 acres of the land for $5 million. He is now asking for $16.3 million, a sum the farmers, despite their best efforts along with other civil society groups were not able to collect.