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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.
Adam Honigman
Hell's Kitchen, NYC


_Steve  Lopez_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-columnist-slopez,0,1145776.columnist?coll=la-news-comment-editorials) :
Points West
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 
each night.

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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