After weeks of tension, waiting, and nightly vigils, supporters of downtown South Central Farm in Los Angeles were awakened before dawn yesterday by sheriff's deputies forcing entry into the property. (See our prevous coverage here and here). Advocates of the farm, working with The Annenberg Foundation and the Trust for Public Land, were able to meet the $16 million asking price, albeit after the set deadline. Although the asking price was eventually met, landowner Ralph Horowitz rejected the offer and initiated the eviction. Supporters, both those camping inside and those in the surrounding streets, staged civil disobedience protests resulting in almost 50 arrests. Deputies in a 100 ft. fire department ladder truck cut away branches to remove and arrest Daryl Hannah and veteran tree-sitter John Quigley from the walnut tree they had been sitting in. More than 250 LAPD and Sheriff's Dept. officers flooded the surrounding area outfitted in riot gear and crowd-control weapons. Most arrestees spent less than six hours in jail and received minimal punishment. After supporters were removed from the farm by the sheriff's dept., Bobcat bulldozers, hired by Horowitz, proceeded to thrash and uproot plants and trees while flattening fences and the minimal infrastructure of the farm, a symbolic gesture of victory by the vilified Brentwood developer. LA Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa said he regretted the outcome and that he had made multiple appeals to the developer to accept the farmers' offer to buy. Advocates of the farm criticize the mayor and local Councilwoman Jan Perry for not doing more to sway the outcome.
Daryl Hannah has become a recognized figurehead for the struggle to save the farm from development, and helped propel this most recent showdown into international view. By the time she was arrested yesterday she had spent more than three uninterrupted weeks encamped at the farm without returning to her Malibu home—taking cold showers in the cornfields, and being the subject of daily media attention, as well as posting on her own vlog. "I'm very confident this is the morally right thing to do, to take a principled stand in solidarity with the farmers," she told the AP by cell phone before being removed from the tree yesterday. Hannah regrouped with supporters in the evening after her release for a press conference and an evening vigil near the now locked gates of the farm. Hannah will appear on Larry King Live tonight to discuss the issue. For more coverage, go to: Yahoo News, NY Times, People, South Central Farmers.