Did LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa totally sell out? It sure looks like it. When he was running for mayor he was a vocal supporter of the South Central Farm, a collective of low-income, mostly Latino immigrant workers who for 14 years managed to cultivate an urban farm in a toxic industrial area of Los Angeles. Two years ago, the farmers were evicted from their land. Protests against the sale of the land were backed by local residents, celebrities, and even the Mayor himself, but that wasn’t enough to save the property for the many who worked it. Unfortunately, it seems that corporate interests has once again come out on top. It was recently announced that the farmland has been sold and will be developed into a Forever 21 warehouse. Forever 21 is no stranger to controversy, a few years back they were boycotted for their exploitative labor practices.
Antonio Villaraigosa has historically been known for his support of progressive causes. His connection and support of the South Central Farm made it all the more surprising when it was reported by feministe.us/blog that Villaraigosa has received nearly $1.3 million in contributions from Forever 21 executives over the last 2 years. The property had been empty all that time, making it even more of a slap in the face to the farmers and community members who had long cultivated the land.
With this new development announced it seems inevitable that the South Central Farmers have lost this battle, but the farmers are still fighting back. They are urging California's State Attorney General to investigate the sale of the site. Rufina Juarez, a leader of the South Central Farm movement, said, "The Mayor's betrayal of poor people supplementing their income by growing their own food is unfathomable. He used the Farm as a backdrop for his mayoral campaign, he promised $5M to help purchase the Farm, he took over negotiations and he used the Forever 21 money to advance his own political agenda and future. It's a betrayal of the people of Los Angeles, of the people from Meso-America, the people who carried him into office."