Re: Daryl Hannah Evicted From Tree on Urban Farm
- Subject: Re: [cg] Daryl Hannah Evicted From Tree on Urban Farm
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 22:08:05 EDT
An interesting view on the Urban Farm Evictions.
Hell's Kitchen, NYC
Daryl Hannah Evicted From Tree on Urban Farm
June 14, 2006
Former mermaid Daryl Hannah said recently she didn't know there was a farm
in South-Central Los Angeles until she got a phone call from a woman named
Butterfly. This was back when Joan Baez was living up a tree on the same farm
and singing folk songs, and I'd like to thank all of them for their
contribution to the first paragraph of this column.
Hannah was being plucked from what may have been that same tree Tuesday as I
arrived on the scene. Helicopters hovered overhead and there were enough
police on hand to invade Mexico.
It was the final drama in a long-running soap opera based on the fact that a
guy named Ralph Horowitz wants a warehouse or something to rise on his
14-acre property, where cactus and fruit trees now bloom.
Hannah's arrest, along with those of a few dozen other protesters, was a
Hollywood moment if ever there was one. The farm story has been beaten to death
for years, but Hannah only heard about it a few weeks ago. And then suddenly
she was Mother Teresa among the poor, laying her head down in a cabbage patch
When I got to the show, protesters were behind the barricades at 41st Street
and Long Beach Avenue, singing and dancing and yelling at cops in riot gear
as the last squatters were evicted.
"What are you here to protect?" one foaming protester shouted at the cops,
calling them slaves of the system. "Fascism?"
It was like being at a Mumia Abu Jamal rally. I liked the spirit of the
young Che wannabes and gray-haired greens, but Mumia killed the cop in question,
and Ralph Horowitz owns the farm in question. Which means he can do with it
as he pleases, as the courts have ruled more than once.
Sure, it's a little more complicated than that. The city bought the land
from Horowitz in the 1980s to build a trash incinerator, then dropped the plans
after citizen protests. In 1992, the city leased the land to a food bank,
which opened it up to urban farmers. But then, after a court battle, the city
agreed to sell the land back to Horowitz in 2003 for $5 million.
That's when the current squabble started. Horowitz told the farmers to
leave, but they wouldn't budge, so he called them squatters and they called him
names right back.
The money spent on legal fees alone could probably feed the farm's 350
gardeners for years to come. But this isn't really about gardening at this point.
The property is a symbol of many different things and everyone's got an
agenda, with the plight of the farmers almost lost in the fray.
They became pawns, says South-Central activist Mark Williams, for a small
group of political opportunists and Westside environmentalists. The latter
groups made up the bulk of the arrestees Tuesday, said Williams, who's with
South-Central Concerned Citizens. Many of the real farmers, he said, long ago
moved to other spots the city found them, including one seven-acre plot at 111th
and Avalon, where they could grow food without endless political theater.
"They speak a lot of progressive, Marxist rhetoric, but they're behaving
like landed gentry," said Williams, who had water thrown in his face Tuesday by
one of the so-called representatives of the farmers. "They didn't like
hearing me speak the truth."
Williams, whose mother, Juanita Tate, was one of the original activists who
fought the city's attempt to build an incinerator on the property, said he
thought the activists were fools to vilify and alienate Horowitz, and thinks
they sabotaged whatever deal might have been worked out to keep at least a
portion of the land open to public use for gardening or soccer fields.
Meanwhile, demonstrators blasted Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for
failing to save the farm, and supporters promised yet more legal challenges
in the never-ending saga. At City Hall, the defeated mayor was pointing a
finger at Horowitz, saying he had turned down a $16-million offer that included a
$10-million pledge from the Annenberg Foundation.
The city lost "an oasis in a sea of industry and concrete," Villaraigosa
Sure, it's sad when a disputed patch of salad greens in central city gets
crushed under the boots of City Hall bunglers and a developer who's about to
turn fertilizer into gold. But who knows, maybe Joan Baez will get a new folk
song out of the drama. And it did give a few Hollywood heroes a bit more time
in the lights.
"I'm very confident this is the morally right thing to do, to take a
principled stand in solidarity with the farmers," Hannah told the Associated Press
moments before her arrest.
Call me a cynic, but I've got to wonder why she, Baez, Laura Dern, Martin
Sheen, Danny Glover and other Hollywood supporters couldn't help raise the
dough to back up their principles.
And if they believe poor folk ought to do their farming on private property,
I'm wondering when they'll ask some of their Hollywood pals to open the
security gates to their sprawling compounds. I'm just guessing, but there must be
thousands of acres of fertile soil out there, ripe for planting.
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