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LA Garden Shut Down - 40 Arrested

  • Subject: [cg] LA Garden Shut Down - 40 Arrested
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 22:48:25 EDT

More local coverage from LA

L.A. Garden Shut Down; 40 Arrested
Protesters are forcibly taken from the site that had  flourished for years in
a poor area. The owner refuses the city's $16-million  offer.
By Hector Becerra, Megan Garvey and Steve Hymon, LA Times  Staff Writers
June 14, 2006

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shut down a 14-acre  urban farm in
South Los Angeles on Tuesday, arresting more than 40 protesters as  they
cleared a
plot of land that has been the source of discord and controversy  in the
community for two decades.

The evictions occurred during a  frenzied morning both at the farm and at
City Hall. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa  and other city leaders continued
negotiations with the landowner even as  deputies used bolt cutters and power
tools to
remove protesters who had attached  themselves to concrete-filled drums and
mature trees.

In an afternoon news conference, Villaraigosa  said owner Ralph Horowitz
turned down $16 million b an offer that met the asking  price. Talks broke
the mayor said, in large part because Horowitz wanted  the farmers evicted.

"Today's events are disheartening and unnecessary,"  Villaraigosa said.
"After years of disagreement over this property, we had all  hoped for a

For his part, Horowitz said he had no  intention of rewarding a group that
included people he said had made  anti-Semitic remarks about him even as they
squatted rent-free on land that was  costing him more than $25,000 a month to
maintain b in addition to massive legal  bills fighting their efforts to

"If the farmers got a donation  and said, 'We got $50 million, would you sell
it to us?' I would say no. Not a b&  chance," Horowitz said. "It's not about
the money."

It took authorities  nearly eight hours to forcibly clear protesters from the
farm. Officials  bulldozed vegetable gardens and chopped down an avocado tree
to clear the way  for a towering Fire Department ladder truck so the final
four protesters could  be plucked from a massive walnut tree. Among those
protest organizer John  Quigley and actress Daryl Hannah, who waved and
smiled as supporters cheered her  on from across the street.

The farm site b and the story of how after the  1992 riots residents turned
the vacant land into patches of fruits and  vegetables b has become a symbol
hope and self-sufficiency to many,  attracting support from celebrities
including Martin Sheen, Danny Glover and  Laura Dern.

For more then a week, those camping at the site had waited  for the end,
running evacuation drills, attending seminars on their legal rights  and
orchestrating ways to impede any eviction effort.

The evictions began  before the sun was even up. A warning cry went out
shortly before 5 a.m.  Quigley, serving as a lookout, spotted motorcycle
police and
a phalanx of  cruisers approaching the corner of Long Beach Avenue and 41st
Street and shouted  from his perch.

"I heard John yell: Get up. This is real! Not a joke,"  Hannah said in an
interview before deputies took her from the tree.

As  they had practiced, protesters took their positions b some chained to
 concrete drums, others locking arms though pre-erected pipes. Hannah
scrambled  to her place on a tree branch near Quigley.

In just minutes, sheriff's  deputies cut through the chain-link fence
perimeter and ordered protesters out.  Soon the perimeter was heavily
About 250 LAPD officers secured the  area, many in riot gear, as about 65
sheriff's deputies evacuated the farm. Many  streets leading into the area
blocked, snarling traffic in one of the  area's busiest commercial districts.

Seferino Hurtado, 70, an immigrant  from the Mexican state of Michoacan, said
he was not shocked that the farm was  finally taken. He had tilled at the
garden about 10 years.

"We thought it  could happen one day. But I'm disappointed," Hurtado said.
"I'm older now, and  when I spend time there it serves as therapy."

The land, along an  industrial corridor in an economically struggling area,
has long been a source  of headaches for city officials. It was seized from
Horowitz in 1986 after the  city used eminent domain in an effort to build an
incinerator at the site.  Community activists defeated that proposal, and
residents turned the land into  garden plots where low-income families could
their own  produce.

Horowitz, however, sued to get the land back, eventually  winning. Three
years ago, he paid $5 million b close to the price he'd gotten  for the land
years earlier b to reacquire the parcels.

But the farmers  refused to leave.

As the fight continued and got increasingly  contentious, some longtime
supporters were alienated and dozens of longtime  farming families left their

Printouts of a Spanish-language  Internet site that accused Horowitz of being
part of a "Jewish Mafia"  controlling Los Angeles were circulated at City

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