17 June 2006
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
With the end of this interrupted semester at Grenoble University come a
couple of small errors from CEIMSA. The Bulletin I sent out yesterday
on "BILINGUAL SUPPORT GROWS FOR THE RETURN OF CEIMSA'S FULL STATUS AS A
RESEARCH CENTER AT STENDHAL UNIVERSITY-GRENOBLE 3" contained several
typographical errors, some of which might appear down-right Freudian.
Anyway, they were unintended, and if you would like to read the
corrected copy of this Bulletin, concerning the "Return of CEIMSA to
Stendhal University", the entire corrected copy of this mailout is now
available in the CEIMSA Archives, at the following link : Bulletin
Also, for access to the entire bilingual dossier on the "CEIMSA
Affaire" at Stendhal University, you are invited to click on the link
to : Scandal
, which is also located on the CEIMSA-IN-Exile
presently housed at The University of California.
Meanwhile, we invite you to read the four communications we have
recently received which include discussions of the policies of 3 modern
American institutions --The U.S. Department of Defense, The American
Methodist Church, and U.S. corporations-- and an update on the
anti-racist social movement on the West Coast.
In item A. Edward Herman
has forwarded to us an audio essay on the pillage of irreplaceable
historical sites in Babylon by the U.S. military.
is an article forwarded to
us by Dr. Elisabeth Chamorand
on the brave position of a
Methodist Church congregation in Washington State who have voted to
offer sanctuary to war resisters in the military, who refuse to go to
by Michael Parenti
is an update on Corporate crime and the close collaboration within the
U.S. Justice Department to protect white collar criminals.
Finally, item D.
is an article
sent to us by Dr. James Cohen,
the militant social movement around the
South Central Farm crisis in Los Angeles County.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
From: "Ed Herman" <email@example.com>
Subject: 'The Americans destroy antiquity' - vandalising Babylon
Date: 12 Jun 2006
Monitoring bias and
misinformation in the media
by John Meed
On Sunday June 11 BBC Radio 4 ran a programme (presented by Jonathan
Charles) about what has happened to the archaeological site of Babylon
since the occupation of Iraq. The programme's main points:
You can listen to the programme on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml.
- - The US military have used the site for a military base -
- other things they have build a helipad over a particularly
- part of the site
- - The movement of heavy plant during construction work has
- extensive destruction of invaluable archaeological material
- - The military made sandbags out of archaeologically
- - There has been considerable contamination of the site as
- from other archaeological sites in other parts of Iraq has
- in additional sandbags - this will make future interpretation
- site even more difficult as pottery from different periods or
- will be muddled together
- - It is now impossible for foreign archaeologists to access
- - Charles was himself unable to get anywhere near it
from Elisabeth Chamorand :
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2006
SUBJECT: Troops Refusing Iraq Duty Get a Haven
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday 15 June 2006
Prompted by a Fort Lewis
Army officer's decision to refuse to fight in Iraq, the First United
Methodist Church of Tacoma has declared itself a sanctuary for
servicemen and servicewomen who also don't want to go to Iraq.
- Troops Refusing Iraq Duty
Get a Haven
- By Mike Barber
The 300-member congregation's administrative council voted last weekend
to open its doors beginning this Saturday after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada
announced that he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has
sought to resign his commission.
A statement from the church on Wednesday said that service members "who
are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can
find protection behind its doors.
"Our initiative was because of Lieutenant Watada's gesture and a clear
sense that we have, as a reconciling congregation, deeply involved in
justice issues throughout the city, that any war, particularly this
one, is inconsistent with Christian teachings," the Rev. Monty Smith
said Wednesday night.
Smith said the church stands "in solidarity" with others who hold
similar social-justice convictions. The church essentially is providing
a protective space and resources to those contemplating whether to
resist deployment to Iraq, he said.
Smith said the church so far has received no applications for sanctuary
from members of the armed forces. It has protocols and precautions to
ensure that anyone who seeks sanctuary is doing so for legal and
The decision marks the latest action by peace activists and war
resisters in recent weeks in the Tacoma-Olympia corridor near Fort
While troop supporters continue their vigils at a bridge near the
post's main gate, Tacoma and Olympia seem to have become a new
epicenter for an invigorated anti-war movement usually seen in Seattle.
Two weeks ago, demonstrations in Olympia against the movement of
military vehicles from Fort Lewis to Iraq via the Port of Olympia
resulted in civil disobedience and arrests.
Last week, Watada, a company-grade military officer with the Stryker
Brigade about to deploy to Iraq this month, said off-post and after
working hours that he does not conscientiously object to war. He would
serve in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, which he considers an illegal war.
Watada, who has tried twice before to resign from the Army, continues
to work and train as an artillery-targeting officer but is under
investigation, his lawyer and military officials said.
Smith said he's a bit surprised that activism is taking root in the
"Before, the huge demonstrations and marches were in Seattle," he said.
Spokesmen for the Church Council of Greater Seattle could not be
reached for comment Wednesday.
The Seattle council has expressed support for Watada, and urged support
for an Interfaith Network of Concern petition to the Seattle City
Council for a resolution urging an exit strategy from Iraq.
On its Web site, the Seattle church group said:
"The Church Council appreciates the difficulty for Lt. Watada
in making such an important decision, given his military service, and
the potential consequences that he likely will face, including a
court-martial. Our support and prayers go to Lt. Watada at this time.
We continue to pray and call for an expedited end to the war in Iraq
and for the preservation of all lives in the areas of conflict."
Smith, joined by other local clergy members, has scheduled a news
conference for noon Friday to explain the church's position and to
The church, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma's Hilltop
neighborhood, has a long history of supporting social justice since
opening its doors in 1876.
From Michael Parenti :
Subject: [Clarity] Corporate Criminals
Date: 12 Jun 2006
Here is a recently published ZNet Commentary of mine (slightly revised
and updated) wch you might find of interest. Feel free to post, cite
Comments you send me are always appreciated even if not always
Still Soft on (Corporate) Crime
by Michael Parenti
A half century ago, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black reminded us in
Griffin v. Illinois (1956) that there “can be no equal justice where
the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.”
The corporate executive with a team of high-powered attorneys has a
different legal experience than the poor person with an underpaid
court-appointed lawyer. And it’s not just a few indigents who need
court-appointed lawyers; some 80 percent of defendants nationwide rely
on public defenders.
The recent convictions of Enron’s billionaire swindlers Kenneth Lay and
Jeffrey Skilling lend hope to those of us who dream of a more equitable
legal system. But before we put Justice Black’s dictum to rest, keep in
mind that Lay and Skilling are out on bail, and that they still might
end up with a light sentence or skip free on some technicality.
In recent years prominent firms including R. J. Reynolds, WorldCom,
Time Warner, Arthur Andersen, Bristol Meyers, Global Crossing,
HealthSouth, and a dozen others have been investigated for accounting
and tax fraud, manipulating stock values, insider trading, and
obstructing justice, criminal acts that have delivered economic ruin
upon shareholders and employees. As of June 2006 only a handful of
executives from these companies have seen the inside of a prison.
Think of the magnitude of their crimes, the heartless damage wreaked
upon many thousands of employees who saw their jobs, retirement funds,
and financial security stolen from them. So much misery for the many so
that the favored few might gleefully romp and frolic in increasingly
What kind of punishment awaits most corporate brigands? Martha Stewart
did a grueling five months in a federal women’s camp. Dennis Koziowski,
former Tyco CEO, looted some $600 million to fund his lavish lifestyle,
for that he got 8 to 25 years in a minimum security prison, and is
eligible for parole in about six years, unless he wins an earlier
reversal or sentence reduction.
After getting a 15-year sentence for looting $100 million from
Adelphia, John Rigas is free pending his appeal. So is Bernard Ebbers,
former CEO of WorldCom (on a 25-year sentence), who wiped out a company
worth $115 billion at its peak.
We can anticipate more cases like this: In June 2006 two Merrill Lynch
bankers, Robert Furst and Daniel Bayly, convicted for fraudulently
inflating Enron’s profits, spent hardly a year in prison before being
released by a federal appeals court pending the completion of their
entire appeals process. This ruling followed a similar release order
three months earlier for another Merrill Lynch banker, William Fuhs. It
was seen as a blow to the prosecution team that was gamely trying to
bring the Enron perpetrators to justice.
Keep in mind that corporate crime is not a rarity but a regularity. The
Justice Department found that most giant companies have committed
felonies. Many are repeat offenders. Over the years, General Electric
has been convicted of 282 counts of contract fraud and fined $20
million. But nobody at GE did any time. (Imagine a street criminal with
282 felony convictions who is allowed to walk free.)
Charged with 216 violations involving toxic substances, WorldCom was
fined $625,000. Over a sixteen year period major oil firms cheated the
government of nearly $856 million in royalties by understating the
value of the oil they pumped from public lands, but nobody went to
prison in any of these cases.
Honeywell ignored defects in gas heaters resulting in twenty-two deaths
and seventy-seven crippling injuries, for which it was fined $800,000.
Johns-Manville suppressed information about the asbestos poisoning of
its workers; when ordered to pay damages in civil court it declared
bankruptcy to avoid payment. Nobody ended up behind bars in either of
An executive of Eli Lilly failed to inform the government about the
effects of a drug suspected of causing forty-nine deaths in the United
States and several hundred abroad. He was fined $15,000. For dumping
toxic chemicals into well water that was subsequently linked to eight
leukemia deaths, W. R. Grace was fined $10,000. Charged with unlawfully
burning toxic wastes into the atmosphere for twenty years, Potomac
Electric Power Co. of Washington, D.C. was fined the crushing sum of
$500. In none of these cases did anyone see the inside of a slammer.
In 2005 the Bank of New York agreed to pay $38 million in penalties and
victim compensation arising from a case of money laundering and fraud,
but nobody ended up having to share a conjugal cell with Big Spike.
That same year Halliburton executives failed to make payments to
pension participants as legally required; instead they used some of the
funds for executive pensions and bonuses. Halliburton was required to
pay almost $9 million and an undisclosed tax penalty, but none of the
company suits went to prison.
In 2006, Custer Battles was found guilty of defrauding the United
States of millions of dollars in government contracts in Iraq. The
company was slated to pay triple damages but again nobody went to
That creepy fellow James Watt, Interior Secretary under the Reagan
administration, helped rich clients illegally pocket millions in
federal low-income housing funds. Watt was able to sidestep eighteen
felony charges of perjury and plead guilty to a misdemeanor, for which
he got five years probation and a $5,000 fine.
As of 2006 there was an estimated $450 billion shortfall in retirement
and disability funds, as numerous companies have defaulted on their
pension payments. Federal law requires companies to honor their
obligations to these funds but there is no real enforcement mechanism.
When Firestone pled guilty to filing false tax returns concealing $12.6
million in income, it was fined $10,000, and no one went to jail. Over
seven hundred people a year are imprisoned for tax evasion, almost all
of them for sums far smaller than the amount Firestone concealed.
Even when the fine is more substantial, it usually represents a mere
fraction of company profits and fails to compensate for the damage
wreaked. Over several years Food Lion cheated its employees of at least
$200 million by forcing them to work “off the clock,” but in a court
settlement the company paid back only $13 million. Who says crime
In 2004 Halliburton paid a $7.5 million fine for false earnings
reports. Halliburton was also accused of grossly overcharging the
government for gasoline intended for U.S. armed forces in Iraq.
Meanwhile, for work done on a government nuclear plant, Bechtel
inflated its bill for labor, materials, travel, entertainment, and
supplies--then gave itself a $250,000 bonus.
Nobody at Halliburton or Bechtel went to prison for these huge thefts.
And as we all know, both companies are still gorging themselves on fat
Someone who robs a liquor store is far more likely to do time than
people who steal hundreds of millions of dollars from shareholders,
employees, consumers, and taxpayers.
Penalties often are uncollected or suspended. Over one hundred savings
and loan (S&L) plea-bargainers, who escaped long prison terms by
promising to make penalty repayments of $133.8 million, repaid less
than 1 percent of that amount.
Claiming it did not have enough lawyers and investigators, the
government failed to pursue more than one thousand S&L fraud and
embezzlement conspiracies, amounting to hundreds of billions in losses
for U.S. taxpayers.
The Bush Jr. administration decreased major fines for mining safety
violations and in nearly half the cases did not bother to collect the
fines. No wonder miners continue to perish in preventable accidents.
Frequently corporate criminals continue to live in luxury but claim
they do not have the money to make restitution to their victims. They
are able to hide many assets before penalties are established.
When corporate felons actually are given prison terms, the sentence is
usually light and sometimes not even served. S&L defendants,
convicted of having stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, spent fewer
months behind bars on average than car thieves--and at relatively
comfortable minimum security prisons.
The two ringleaders of Archer Daniels Midland Co. who stole millions
from their customers were sentenced to only three years. The average
sentence for corporate criminals who do time is about eleven months.
Let’s go back some years to Wall Street investor Michael Milken who
pled guilty to securities violations and was sentenced to ten
years--reduced to twenty-two months, most of which was spent doing
community service. Corporate criminals sentenced to community service
seldom do but a small portion of it, if any. Milken had to pay back
$1.1 billion to settle criminal and civil charges but retained a vast
fortune of $1.2 billion from his dealings.
Likewise, Ivan Boesky walked off with $25 million after paying his fine
for insider trading and doing a brief spell behind bars. Every major
participant in these late 1980s Wall Street investment crimes emerged
from the experience as a wealthy man. Again, who says crime doesn’t pay?
Opinion surveys find that a majority of the public believes that
wrongdoing is widespread in the business world. Some 90 percent think
that big corporations have too much influence over government. Only 2
percent consider company bosses “very trustworthy.” You’ve got to hand
it to the American people. Buried alive under an avalanche of media
disinformation and puffery, they still sometimes get it right.
Sure it does us good to see some corporate predators get their asses
kicked in court. And we should demand that it happen more often.
But keep in mind that corporate crime is endemic to a system bound by
limitless greed and pitiless theft, a system whose operational
imperative is “accumulate, accumulate, accumulate,” a system faithfully
serviced by reactionary plutocrats in the White House who themselves
partake of the plunder.
Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius
Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture
Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.
from James Cohen :
Subject: exemplary struggle, ignominious episode
Date: 17 Jun 2006
The Golden Rule in the City of Angels?
By Jane Ayers
[Friday 16 June 2006
: South Central Farm crisis in LA. Willie Nelson, Darryl Hannah,
Danny Glover, Joan Baez, Ralph Nader all speak out.]
Surrounded by organic
flowers grown on the South Central Farm, a huge Sacred Heart of Jesus
altar sat at the base of the tree where protestors were tree-sitting to
save the urban community farm. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the altar
had been joined by forty nonviolent protestors locking themselves
together around the base of the tree because Los Angeles sheriffs,
firefighters, and police had converged to evict the farmers and
protesters, who were now considered trespassers.
[Click here to see truthout.org video (4 minutes) of eviction and
resistance to it. http://www.truthout.org/multimedia.htm
Nightly, hundreds of humble farmers and
their families had united for a vigil to light candles and pray for
help to save the 350 small garden plots in their 14-acre organic
community garden. Native American elder and actor Floyd Westerman led
the vigil around the perimeter several nights; other nights it was led
by the oldest woman from the community. On the recent full moon, 600
bicyclists from Critical Mass and Nightriders surprised everyone by
cycling around the farm at midnight, chanting "Save the Farm." You see,
this community garden has been tilled and nourished for 14 years by
these family farmers. Fourteen years of hard work - sweat equity - hard
work of common folks, the poor of LA. The land was granted to the LA
Food Bank after the riots of 1992, has been miraculously transformed
into a lush garden by the farmers, and is a shining example of the poor
helping one another survive in the big city.
With sheriffs' helicopters circling daily, the
farmers and their supporters feared that at any moment they would
permanently be forced out of the garden. Sheriffs met with the farmers'
attorney, Dan Stormer, last week and told him they would be "enforcing
the court order to evict all at the garden," and gave them a couple of
days to leave the premises. In addition, the attorney alleged that the
sheriffs stated their concern that "anarchists might be present inside
the garden." This kind of talk brews all the ingredients for riot
police to come in, and now the process has begun.
At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the sheriffs, fire
fighters, and LAPD all moved in to begin the eviction. Approximately 40
protesters immediately locked down in an act of nonviolent civil
disobedience. Most put their hands in tubes (specifically designed for
civil disobedience) then dropped them into barrels of cement, forcing
the evictors to bring in jackhammers and drills to dislodge them.
Several locked down together around the base of the tree where Darryl
Hannah and John Quigley were tree-sitting. Bulldozers moved in to clear
a path to bring in cherry pickers to extract the tree-sitters. Hannah,
calling local media on the phone during the raid, stated, "Ultimately,
the money has been on the table. This eviction might really be about
extracting blood. When will the mayor see that a farm in the city is
good and sustains many families? The farmers depend on this food. I am
planning to hold my position in the tree in a peaceful manner. The deal
was so close. It's a shame that the taxpayers' money has to be wasted
in this way. The money issues were being resolved ..." LAPD showed up
in riot gear to begin removing the many protesters outside the farm who
had linked arms and lain down together blocking traffic on the streets
around the farm. Hours later, riot police were angrily striking some of
the farmers in the stomach with their batons. Protests began outside at
the LA City Council meeting within hours.
Why would the mayor allow this eviction to go down,
after giving the farmers such hope through his representatives just
days before? What a heartbreak. Rumors had been circulating for weeks
that people in the government - the mayor, Senator Barbara Boxer, and
Congresswoman Maxine Waters - were all working "behind the scenes" to
find a solution to this intensifying problem, but still no official
word from the mayor's office was given. Finally, three days days ago,
Larry Frank, LA Deputy Mayor, showed up at the nightly candle vigil,
stating, "If there is a chance to mediate this situation, Mayor
Villaraigosa will do what he can to settle this. Don't give up hope."
LA City Board of Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels also showed
up, emphasizing that the mayor "cares for the farmers and wants to make
this one of the greenest cities in America, including the 500 trees
growing on this farm."
Some of the nation's most authentic beacons for
humanitarian issues have turned the South Central Farm into a
demonstration of how to preserve a green zone in downtown LA, and also
give fair treatment to the poor in the City of Angels. Organizers
Darryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly-Hill, and John Quigley had attracted
Martin Sheen, Ralph Nader, Farm Aid's Willie Nelson, UN representative
Danny Glover, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, Leonardo diCapria, Congresswoman
Maxine Waters, Senator Barbara Boxer, a representative for Jane
Goodall, musicians Tom Morello and Michelle Shocked over the past two
weeks, drawing world attention to the possible loss of the gardens.
The endangered 14-acre organic farm, considered the
nation's largest urban farm, has also drawn to its heart local
faith-based leaders, clergy, and civil rights leaders (such as Evelyn
Knight of the Martin Luther King Jr. marches). All had been calling for
Mayor Villaraigosa to immediately intervene to halt the looming
eviction of the 350-plus farmers. They also had hoped that Brentwood
developer Ralph Horowitz would be compassionate in dealing with the
poor on this issue. They were all asking, "Why bulldoze a fine city
model of sustainability to build a warehouse?" Yes, Horowitz has the
right to maximize profits, but there are many humanitarians who were
now pleading for him to reconsider and use his conscience over profits.
But while the police roughed up the protesters and
farmers outside the farm, the mayor was finally giving the press
conference he should have given one week before: he was finally
announcing the financial goal had been met to buy the farm! Well, low
and behold, the developer later that day talked to the mayor on the
phone, stating it was now worth $2-3 million dollars more. Earlier,
during television coverage of the eviction, he was focused on the issue
of the farmers' "ingratitude," and said he wouldn't sell it to them for
"100 million" because he didn't like their "causes." Hurt feelings on
both sides might have occurred in the past, but now all of LA became
focused on the television footage showing the hurt feelings and hurt
bodies of those farmers and protesters hit in the stomach with riot
Los Angeles developer Ralph Horowitz has been the
focus of this dilemma, one that the former Los Angeles Mayor Hahn
played a part in creating when he quietly sold the garden land for $5
million to Horowitz in 2003. Many lawsuits later, it now stands that a
July 12th Superior Court hearing will determine whether the original
sale of the land was even legal in the first place. Horowitz also sued
the farmers in February - a Slapp suit for $700,000 filed as an Abuse
What is not being reported at all in this issue is
that the real heat had been turned up last week by Senator Barbara
Boxer when she delivered the most direct punch to this boondoggle.
Sending a letter to developer Ralph Horowitz, she stated, "I understand
that efforts to raise the $16.3 million have so far fallen short and
that you may be prepared to oust the approximately 350 families who
farm the land." Noting that the property has a "tangled history which
began when the City of Los Angeles took the property through eminent
domain in the 1980s for a planned trash-to-energy incinerator, which
was never built," Senator Boxer pointed to the fact that after that
transaction, the "City allowed the LA Regional Food Bank to begin using
the land as an urban gardening project ... Ultimately, you regained the
property through court action for $5 million, slightly more than you
had been paid for the property when it was taken for the incinerator."
Focusing on fair treatment, she ended her letter with, "Mr. Horowitz, I
sincerely hope that you will agree to negotiate with the community for
a price that they can realistically afford. I am also sure that you
could benefit by making part of the ownership transfer a charitable
gift to the community."
Amidst all the scurry, the Trust for Public Land
(TPL) came to the rescue last week offering another solution - to buy
the farm for full price. The TPL has always been generous to LA,
creating the Parks for People-LA program to create 25 new park and open
space projects (i.e., community gardens and athletic fields) over the
next five years. Using their G1S computer modeling to pinpoint
neighborhoods where parks are most urgently needed, they have
determined South LA to be an area that definitely needs greenery.
Recently the TLP also saved another downtown LA site, the 32-acre
"Cornfield" which was also being threatened by developers.
With eviction looming, last week the Trust put out a
nationwide plea to many philanthropy organizations to immediately
pledge monetary grant support to buy the South Central Farm at
Horowitz's asking price of $16.3 million. The Annenberg Foundation
immediately responded with a gift pledge of $10 million, and this week,
the Trust for Public Lands will be presenting documents to Horowitz to
purchase the land for the farmers. Bob Reid of the Trust for Public
Land, states that the Trust has "drafted legal documents" to present to
Horowitz to negotiate a "transaction to purchase the community farm."
Joan Baez, who initially lit the fire on finding a
compassionate solution to this crisis, showed up again over last
weekend, actually sleeping in the tree overnight with tree-sitters
Darryl Hannah, John Quigley, and Julia Butterfly-Hill. The four did
phone interviews all night with late-night radio talk shows about the
plight of the farm. Baez said she showed up in LA "to bring my little
piece of heart to do something that would bring a tangible result." The
next morning, she also sang an honoring anthem to Julia Butterfly-Hill
while the activist concluded her 24-day hunger strike, descending from
her tree-sitting post as she was replaced by another female farmer,
Julia Butterfly-Hill noted that her water-only fast
was to show the unfairness of destroying "paradise," and that the farm
garden was "priceless and irreplaceable," and a "large vision of what's
possible for Los Angeles to be healthier." She had successfully taken a
stand on the value of preserving nature by living in a redwood tree for
over two years in Northern California to stop the impending destruction
of old-growth redwood forests, which is the subject of one of her
bestselling books, Luna. She noted that during her LA hunger strike,
she realized that "most Americans don't know what it's like to go
hungry for even 24 hours. " She urged citizens to think how the South
Central Farm garden is "the food source for over 350 families and their
extended families, and to place yourself in their shoes - to consider
how it would feel to have a large part of your food source ripped away
Joining Julia Butterfly-Hill and Darryl Hannah in
the tree was John Quigley, who is well known for a recent LA tree-sit
to save a 400-year old tree, Old Glory, from being destroyed. He also
just completed a project with Global Green, organizing an aerial
photograph of thousands of scientists and the Innu tribe in the Artic,
who with their bodies spelled out SOS on an ice cap, bringing attention
to ice caps dramatically melting there due to global warming. He also
recently created another art image at Venice Beach to draw attention to
the plight of the quarter of a million homeless US veterans. At his
request, five hundred citizens of LA formed the outline of the famous
image of veterans raising the American flag at IwoJima. For Quigley to
be one of the tree-sitters at the South Central Farm is natural for his
way of thinking, "We hope Ralph Horowitz will negotiate a deal where
Ralph Nader, who also visited with the activists,
stated, "This farm is a model, a source of inspiration for people in
other parts of the world. These farmers are giving life, hope and food
in an unlikely place. There has to be land for people in the cities,
not just family farms in rural areas. It's always the banks and
developers buying up the land for skyscrapers. Our city planners need
to allow farms such as this in the city. You have devastated areas in
the city, like here. The wealthy keep taking the land, and this protest
to save this farm is a historic event. This signifies the possibilities
of working the land, and the fruits going to the people who work that
"In the 1980s, Detroit wanted to build a GM plant on
a similar piece of land, and at 5 a.m. fifty squad cars came in and
pulled out the protestors and got away with it. But here in LA, I am
saying to the authorities that it will be difficult to keep their jobs
if they destroy this farm."
Former mayor of Santa Monica Mike Feinstein, now
active in urban planning with the Southern Regional Comprehensive Plan
Task Force (part of SCAG, the Southern California Association of
Governments), stated, "This brings up food security issues. When the
mayor's office previously said they would just relocate the farm, I
immediately thought that they can't relocate the spirit that has gone
into the land here. Better solutions can be found. The previous city
grant that built this community garden is a good model. With open
space, a city can build a dream garden."
Rev. Ignacio Castuera, pastor of St. John's United
Methodist Church in Watts, stated, "My hope was that the sheriffs
wouldn't move in too quickly. We are working outside the usual
channels, and the people of faith are trying to bring another dialog to
this conflict - heart to heart. It should not only be a money question.
My hope is that Mr. Horowitz is a practicing Jewish man, and I pray
that his Rabbi will remind him of the Biblical call to deal fairly with
Christine Chavez, daughter of Cesar Chavez, who also
spent the night on the farm in the tent encampment, stated, "We shared
the farm workers' prayer that Cesar Chavez always prayed. Cesar also
had an organic garden like these found at this farm. I saw Cesar fast
for 36 days to stop the spraying of pesticides on the farmers in the
fields, and it was very serious on his health, so I was at the farm to
pray for Julia Butterfly-Hill while she fasted for the South Central
Farm." Cesar's wife, Helen, also accompanied her daughter.
Martin Sheen recited poetry by Rabindranath Tagore
to the farmers: "Where the heart is without fear, and the head help up
high ... when the clear stream of reason hasn't lost its direction,
into that heaven, that freedom, let my country awake." Sheen, usually
protesting the School of Americas for its training of battalions that
later commit atrocities in other countries, arrived with Jesuit priest
Reverend Michael Kennedy.
Rev. Kennedy, of the Delores Mission Church in East
LA, is still alive today but could have been killed in the 1980s if he
had been with six fellow Jesuit priests as planned. The Jesuits were
killed in El Salvador, murdered by the Atlactl Battalion which had been
trained at the School of Americas. The issues over immigrants from
Central America taking political asylum in the US (due to the US
funding of these death squads) is close to his heart. Perhaps that is
why he showed up - to protect the small number of Central American
farmers who also have plots of land at the South Central Farm.
He stated, "At this historical moment, this is a
Promised Land. People of faith believe LA should come together to keep
the land sacred, using it for the best use, and that is as a garden. We
live in this part of the city, and we know there are not many green
areas down here."
Pete Seeger even called the farmers, saying, "Some
growth is considered bulldozing. Right now we need growth in
generosity, and growth in common sense for humanity and our
Mary Wright, of the Wright Resource Center in
Malibu, and of the visionary Frank Lloyd Wright family, noted that the
late architect developed the concept of "broad acre cities" with people
"living near where they grow their food, and children being able to be
in nature close to home, and to get in touch with the process of seed
to harvest." She emphasized that in the case of the farmers in South
Central, she is "deeply saddened that greed seems to be superceding
need" in an area where there is "such a deep, important need."
Last Sunday, country superstar Willie Nelson showed
up to lend support as head of Farm Aid. He stressed, "We all need to
learn to grow our own food. There is a new trend where city folks are
going out into rural areas to hire family farmers to grow their organic
food. This farm should be saved. It's a great example of what can be
done in all cities. I would climb up in the tree with them, but I think
of Keith Richards' accident, and so I'll just do a polka with one of
the farmers on the ground."
He went on: "The farmers are growing organic food
here, and helping other farmers. We all have to utilize every acre to
grow food. Farm Aid supports growing organically, and the farmers will
grow our fuel in the future, as well as food. Biodiesel and ethanol
will be positive for family farmers to pay their bills, growing
soybeans and cotton for biodiesel."
While Nelson was at the farm, the sheriffs'
helicopters circled overhead many times, and he stressed, "Mayor
Villagarosa should step up to the plate all the way right now. He knows
what the people want. Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Waters are being
very vocal. He should have been helping to settle this more actively
already and being more outspoken, before the farmers have to go through
After Darryl Hannah returned from being arrested,
she stated, "As I was coming down from the tree, I looked around and
what really came to me was this neighborhood is filled with liquor
stores, warehouses and concrete. Every mother deserves a place to grow
healthy food and a green place for children to play. Here in South
Central LA, there is a dire need. I'm very sad today that Mr. Horowitz
has broken his word. He said if the community of South Central could
raise $16 million, he would sell us the land. We did it. It was a
miracle, and that's why I raised my arm when I was coming down from the
tree. We did our part. We stood up and did the impossible, a group of
farmers, a few celebrities, and hundreds of people who care. Now he's
broken his word ..."
Yesterday, Danny Glover sent word to the farmers,
stating, "I received the news today about what was happening at the
South Central Farm, and it's a very, very sad day. In fact, it ought to
be a National Day of Mourning, a national day of Shame. What we are
witnessing is the wanton and wholesale destruction of a community's
dream. Instead of destroying the dream, we should be embracing it."
He went on to say, "I'm especially saddened for our
children. What is the message that we are sending to them when our
national priorities are such that we can spend a billion dollars a day,
about $45.8 million dollars an hour, on the war in Iraq and have a few
million dollars domestically be the difference between whether
communities like South Central Farm have healthy and nutritious food or
not. So like thousands of other people around the world today, I am
saddened and at the same time I continue to admire, support and gain
strength and hope from the courageous example provided by the South
Central farmers. Your cause is not lost because the struggle will and
Wednesday evening, Darryl Hannah appeared on CNN's
"Larry King Live," joined via phone by Willie Nelson. Mr. King stated
he knew the late Mr. Annenberg (of the Annenberg Foundation), and that
he would have helped, "probably doubling the money gift." The late
founder of the Annenberg Foundation was the former publisher of the
Philadelphia Inquirer. Willie Nelson reiterated that he is strongly
standing "beside the farmers" on this issue.
Whatever happens next, the Sacred Heart of Jesus
candles are still around the sacred tree, but could be bulldozed within
days. As of last night, more candles were being lit on the outside of
the farm during a prayer vigil last night. Even though this is a big
political mess, all I can think of is Jesus' saying, "Whatever you do
unto the least of me, you do unto Me."
Jane Ayers is an independent journalist who
has conducted interviews for the Los Angeles Times Interview section,
USA Today, The Nation. She is the author of the upcoming book Hearts
of Charity, about the power of the individual to make a difference
in the world. She is also a member of the Society of Environmental
Journalists. She is Director of the Jane Ayers Human and Environmental
Rights Media, a 501(c)(3) project of SEE (Social & Environmental
Entrepreneurs) part of the Earthways Foundation of Malibu. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org