I was seeing reports like this one:
I took this picture looking through
where the bulldozer had mashed through the fence around the farm. They
had replace the fence, but you can see that the crops on the other side
had been thoroughly scraped off. The walnut tree where Julia, John,
and Darryl had done their tree sit had lost a few branches but would
probably be okay if left to heal. The meadow below it where I took many
pictures a couple of weeks before was deserted except for a couple of
security guards in black.
Before there had been a wealth of
signs, mostly handmade individual thoughts. Now there was just this one
by the gate, as personal as a traffic ticket. I pointed my camera at
one of the Security people behind it and she made threatening noises so
I didn't shoot her. Instead I walked around the place. There were many,
many more places that had been driven over by the bulldozer than I took
I developed a feeling that keeping the
farm intact is important during my first visit here during my campaign.
the destruction of this loved place gave me some inkling of how
Palestinians must feel after Israelis bulldoze their olive trees.
The bulldozer hadn't been everywhere.
You could still see some places that look like the Garden of Eden.
Yes, everybody was thrown out. The
spirit was still strong. The vigils would continue this evening as they
had for months.
Kimberly told me something about what
had happened the previous day. The nonviolent resistance had gone
according to plan. They had managed to hold out for seven hours, one
way or another. The blue drum full of concrete had been the weight one
person had been anchored to the farm by. A few of the resistors had
been cut up by the police trying to get them out of those kinds of
things. Many people who heard about the attack had tried to get close,
but they had been prevented from getting near by a solid wall of police
surrounding the place.
The article had made page A8 of the LA
Times. It indicated that 17 people had been arrested inside the
property for failing to obey a court order to leave the place. Another
27 had been arrested outside for "failure to disperse". It further
explained that according to the paperwork, Ralph Horowitz owned the
property. The farm community had taken legal action to dispute that,
but the State Supreme Court had decided not to hear the case, so
Horowitz was exercising his rights getting them off the land.
Somebody told me that they had seen
Horowitz on TV saying something like "I don't like these peoples cause,
and I'm not going to sell the land to them." Somebody else talked about
how they had raised the $16 million he had asked for, and he had turned
it down, even though he had only paid about $5 million for it. They
just didn't like that kind of greed. Thinking about it now, I'm hoping
Horowitz cures the people of LA of ever wanting to be like rich people
Dili began the vigil
ceremony by saying they had managed to get everyone who had been busted
the previous day out of jail. Then he introduced the honored guest of
the evening, a Korean farmer.
The Korean said that
he and his people stand with the farmers in their struggle against the
western imperialists. He spoke in Korean, which sounded utterly
unfamiliar to me. He would say a short sentence, and then somebody with
their back to me would explain what that meant in English. Then this
woman would translate that into Spanish. Then the Korean would say
something else, his translator would say he had said "we need to do
this today to make a better tomorrow", and then I would listen to the
Spanish version. Sometimes I knew enough of the words to say "that must
be right." The translations managed to puff out a very short statement
into something with the gravitas of an international treaty.
The Koreans gave the
farm's farmers and activists this flag as a token of their support.
The next speakers
were these Mexican Movie Stars. They also felt the struggle is an
After all the
speeches, we lit candles and carried them around the farm, the part of
the ritual that was the same as it had been the night I was there
before. It wasn't really the occasion to be taking pictures, but these
shirts spoke of other struggles that also need to be considered.
The general feeling I got from the leaders of this group was "we are
right, we are obeying the law, we have not stooped to violence, and
somehow we will prevail." There is not much money in hand farming small
plots of land, but it is a great focus for a local community. I hope
they prevail through some miracle of public consciousness. A Wal*Mart
warehouse seems like way too sterile a use of the place to really be