UN Expert Hits Hard on Police Repression of Black Lives Matter Protesters & Other US Activists

UN Expert Hits Hard on Police Repression of Black Lives Matter Protesters & Other US Activists

If you care about the ability to organize and speak your minds in the streets, read this report. After visiting the US, UN Special Rapporteur and expert on Freedom of Assembly and Association Maina Kiai delivered strong words about how police discretion, militarization and racism have gradually eroded our ability to assemble peacefully and not have our lives, records or views threatened by disproportionate force at protests.

El Portal Residents Will Get Paid $360K To Move Out Of Trailer Park

El Portal Residents Will Get Paid $360K To Move Out Of Trailer Park

The owners of an El Portal trailer park and the Village of El Portal will pay $360,000 to the families living at the park.

This settlement, reached through mediation, is a victory for the remaining residents of the Little Farm trailer park who have been battling the park’s owner, Wealthy Delight LLC, and the village for more than a year now after it was announced the park would close.

Legal Services of Greater Miami attorney Evian White and the Community Justice Project sued on behalf of tenantsat the park. The lawsuit alleged that El Portal did not follow state law when itfailed to study whether adequate housing was available before signing off on a settlement agreement with Wealthy Delight that called for the park’s closure.

What’s in a name? Little Haiti boundaries now official

What’s in a name? Little Haiti boundaries now official

What’s in a name?

In Lemon City — make that Little Haiti — the answer, for those who live and work in the community, is everything.

And so cheers erupted and brows furrowed Thursday in jam-packed Miami City Hall when commissioners voted unanimously to designate Little Haiti as an official city neighborhood. The creation of legal boundaries for the community in northeast Miami has been pushed for years, but always unsuccessfully due largely to overlapping boundaries with Lemon City, a historic neighborhood that predated the incorporation of Miami.

Miami Could Officially Put Little Haiti on the Map This Week, but Opponents Prepared to Fight

Miami Could Officially Put Little Haiti on the Map This Week, but Opponents Prepared to Fight

There's already a Little Haiti Cultural Center and a Little Haiti Park. Ask any Miamian for directions to Little Haiti and they won't hesitate to point you toward the Caribbean area centered on NE Second Avenue. And yet Little Haiti has never been an officially designated neighborhood in the City of Miami.

That could finally change this week. Commissioners on Thursday will consider a resolution to finally put Little Haiti on the map, a move activists have pushed for years. The change wouldn't just recognize Haitian contributions to the city, they say, it would help battle gentrification.

Your View: No drivers should be left behind

Your View: No drivers should be left behind

When taxi drivers are finally able to work in dignified conditions, free from the yoke of taxi companies, the quality of taxi and ride-hailing services are sure to markedly improve and be far more efficient. We believe that Miami-Dade County Commissioners have the capacity to figure out a way of coexistence between the TNEs and the taxi system and to treat them fairly without impartiality.

The Scott Carver Files: Residents Gather to Memorialize the Past

The Scott Carver Files: Residents Gather to Memorialize the Past

Recently, family members, friends, students and professors from the University of Miami, organizers from the Miami Workers Center and others gathered for a reunion to memorialize the Scott Carver Projects housing tragedy through archived photos, fliers, videos and oral histories. Residents hope the event will raise awareness about similar housing projects in Liberty Square, and will bring Scott Carver homeowners together.

The reunion was held at the NFL YET Center at Gwen Cherry Park on Saturday, April 23. For past resident Yvonne Stratford, the fight to save the community she remembered decades ago ended with saving the last building.

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Discriminated Against Blacks at Trump Rally, Lawyers' Guild Says

 Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Discriminated Against Blacks at Trump Rally, Lawyers' Guild Says

On Sunday, March 13, Donald Trump held a massive rally at Boca Raton's Sunset Cove Amphitheater. The rally itself was peaceful and largely uneventful, but a video posted to Facebook that evening seemed to show that Trump's campaign had purposely denied admission to black activists and that police were complicit in the discrimination. The clip showed a deputy from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, Ken Sluth, blocking black members of Broward's Black Lives Matter Alliance from entering the rally, despite the fact that the activists had tickets to the event. He admitted a white activist with a ticket, though. 

Yesterday, two civil rights groups — including the National Lawyer's Guild, the nation's first racially integrated bar association — condemned the sheriff's office for "selectively suppress[ing] the speech of people of color."

"Black youth who had tickets for the event were singled out in line for denial of admission by officers," the guild said in a letter addressed to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and county Mayor Mary Lou Berger. "Conversely, a white individual was allowed to pass and enter the security line at the same moment without incident — even after stating to the officer that his purpose was to protest the event." The guild wrote the letter in tandem with Miami's Community Justice Project, a legal aid group that represents "low-income communities of color."

Lawyers: Deputies Discriminated Against Black Attendees at Trump Rally

In response to racially discriminatory treatment and harassment of attendees by Palm Beach County Sherriff's deputies at recent Donald Trump for President campaign event, Community Justice Project & the National Lawyers Guild South Florida Chapter sent a letter to Mayor Berger & Sheriff Bradshaw condemning the deputies' actions and demanding that law enforcement immediately cease enforcement of the campaigns' racially discriminatory policies.

"Racial discrimination and the suppression of political speech should never be taken lightly. We cannot condone the above actions by PBSO deputies, state actors who selectively suppressed the speech of people of color at an event where the candidate is known to preach hate against Muslim, immigrant, and other oppressed communities. The PBSO deputies’ actions are an unconscionable violation of both the First and Fourteenth Amendment. While Mr. Trump may have his own First Amendment rights to express this hateful rhetoric, it does not justify the Sheriff’s Department’s proactive steps to bar young people of color from the event. "

To learn more about the work of Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, visit them on facebook.

Footage from the event can be seen below:

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Posted by Peter Da More on Sunday, March 13, 2016

She's The 'Mayor' Of Little Farm Trailer Park

She's The 'Mayor' Of Little Farm Trailer Park

Blan lives in single white trailer. She’s a 72-year old widow. Originally from Haiti, Blan is one of several Haitians who call the park home.  Among her Haitian neighbors she is called “la majistra”—Creole for “the mayor.”

“They call me the mayor because I watch out for them,” she says.

For about a year now, the people living at the  trailer park have been fighting to stay in their homes. The property’s new owner, Wealthy Delight LLC, plans to demolish the trailers and redevelop the land.

Taking the High Ground—and Developing It

Taking the High Ground—and Developing It

A little over year ago, residents of the Little Farm trailer park, which sits a couple blocks outside of Little Haiti and holds 100 mobile homes, were told they were being evicted. The park’s new owners, a Chinese shell company, wanted to clear it for development. But clearing out is not so simple: While the homes originally were movable when they were wheeled in the ‘40s and ‘50s, they deteriorated to the point that they were effectively fixed to the ground.

Little Farm’s homeowners have little choice but to leave. Sophia Alexandre and her husband have owned their mobile home in Little Farm for the last four years, raising two children in their three-bedroom trailer, where school awards and family pictures take up every inch of limited wall space and smells from their garden waft through the windows. Alexandre, along with other Haitian immigrants, pays $500 a month to live there and expected to do so for many years to come. “But that’s not what happened,” she says. She doesn’t know where they’ll live next, now that some of the last remaining low-income, non-subsidized housing in Miami-Dade County is disappearing.

“Where can they go and pay the same amount of rent? Nowhere.”

Family of man shot by Miami Gardens officer: No charges ‘a travesty of justice’

It’s been 350 days since Lavall Hall was killed by police, but his family has not stopped its call for action.

The 25-year-old man was having what his mother refers to as “an episode” — possibly brought on by his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — when she called Miami Gardens officers for help.

A week earlier, when Catherine Daniels called police to help her son, they escorted him to a mental health facility. This time, he was wielding a metal-tipped broomstick. He was shot and killed.

“If I’d have known that would have happened like that, I wouldn’t have called them,” she said. “I called them for help, and look what it caused — my child’s death.”

A confrontation in which Hall left an officer “bleeding profusely” from the head, had a 10- to 15-second fistfight with another and was unsuccessfully shocked with a Taser, ended with Officer Eddo Trimino firing at Hall several times.

Last week, state prosecutors decided not to charge Trimino. The report said he “fired his service pistol in order to protect his life and that of others.”

El Portal Trailer Park Evictions Highlight Miami's Giant Real-Estate Disparity

 El Portal Trailer Park Evictions Highlight Miami's Giant Real-Estate Disparity

The bulldozers were the worst. The noise and dust bothered the residents of Little Farm Trailer Park — a 15-acre low-income community just off Biscayne Boulevard in El Portal — and so did the newly vacant lots. They were a stark reminder of the fate residents feared awaited their own homes.

Politicians say Miami ‘slums’ prove need for new laws

Politicians say Miami ‘slums’ prove need for new laws

At least $118,000 have been spent on repairs, operations, maintenance and insurance at 6040 NW 12th Ave. and at eight other run-down Liberty City and Overtown apartment buildings owned by the same New Jersey couple since a judge appointed a third-party receiver this summer to manage the properties. Court records show thousands have been spent targeting pest infestations, illegally wired electric rooms, structural issues and shoddy plumbing.

But years of neglect have left behind a to-do list too expensive to address with only the meager rent generated by the buildings. Even after the city of Miami prevailed in court against landlords Abraham and Denise Vaknin — and after seven months of efforts by new management — tenants, attorneys and advocates agree there is still a lot of work left to do before the roughly 100 individuals and families residing in these buildings have a suitable place to live.

“The receiver has done what she can do and the courts have done what they can do. But that's not going to be enough to sustain long-term changes,” said Alana Greer, a Community Justice Project attorney representing low-income tenants at the 6040 building, where tenants in two units say their ceilings once buckled above their sleeping children. “It’s a business model to basically let these places run down.”

Letter to the Editor

We need to calm the rhetoric in this debate around regulation of Uber and Lyft. I can’t understand how Uber, valued at over $60 billion, can say that following minimum measures to protect its drivers and consumers would hurt the wild success the company has already enjoyed in this county.

Or how the mayor can say that a piece of county legislation would “drive Uber and Lyft out of business.” It’s clear people love Uber, and Uber is here to stay. But the county still has the responsibility to ensure that passengers have drivers who are trained and professional, and that everyone — including those who are differently abled — has access to transportation if they need it. Giving Uber free rein to dictate how the system runs just does not do that.

MEENA JAGANNATH, COMMUNITY JUSTICE PROJECT, MIAMI

Miami Trailer Park Residents Keep Eviction Fight Alive

Miami Trailer Park Residents Keep Eviction Fight Alive

Residents of a Miami trailer park who face eviction in February won a round Wednesday when a Florida appeals court revived a tenant's lawsuit against the sale and closing of the park.

The state's Third District Court of Appeal reversed the dismissal of appellant Barbara Falkinburg's suit and instructed the trial court to speed up consideration of her claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. Falkinburg contends the Village of El Portal violated state law by signing off on a deal to close the park without conducting a relocation study.
 

Appeals Court: El Portal Violated State Law In Trailer Park Closure Plans

Appeals Court: El Portal Violated State Law In Trailer Park Closure Plans

The Village of El Portal violated a state law when it failed to study whether adequate housing was available for residents of a mobile home park it plans to shut down.

In an opinion from the state Third District Court of Appeal, the court found that  the village took official action to close the Little Farm mobile home park when it approved a settlement agreement with the property’ owner,  Wealthy Delight LLC.

Cleveland Solidarity Statement

Cleveland Solidarity Statement

On Monday, December 28, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that the grand jury accepted his recommendation and will not indict the officers responsible for killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The reality that after more than 13 months these officers continue to be paid from city coffers and will face no criminal charges in the death of Tamir, is a demonstration that this system offers no justice to Black families and was not built to.

Law4BlackLives, a collective of law students, legal workers, and attorneys, offer our profound condolences to the family of Tamir Rice and the community of Cleveland, as they are forced to endure yet another gross miscarriage of justice.  Last week’s announcement validated the Cleveland community's lack of faith in McGinty. The process reiterated the fact that prosecutors in this country answer to no one. It is essential that McGinty and his office be held accountable to the community that they are supposed to serve.  

We join the family and countless other voices in demanding an immediate federal civil rights investigation into Tamir Rice’s death. However, our experiences, from Ferguson to New Orleans, tell us that a federal investigation, while necessary, is not sufficient.

Little Haiti residents, businesses say developers pricing them out of neighborhood

Little Haiti residents, businesses say developers pricing them out of neighborhood

Longtime residents, business owners and civic leaders gathered in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood on Thursday to deliver a message about their rapidly changing community: “We want to stay.”

Residents and activists, many carrying hand-written signs declaring “Little Haiti is not for sale” and “Say no to gentrification,” said real estate developers and speculators are buying up land and pushing out the people and small businesses that give the neighborhood its distinct Caribbean character.

Florida Housing Coalition: Community Justice Project Focuses on Racial Justice, Poverty and Human Rights

Florida Housing Coalition: Community Justice Project Focuses on Racial Justice, Poverty and Human Rights

Chuck Elsesser, pictured at right, (the author of this piece), long time Florida Housing Coalition Board member, together with colleagues, Alana Greer and Meena Jagannath, opened a new public interest law firm in July, the Community Justice Project Inc. (CJP) in Miami.

Tears flow as El Portal trailer residents are forced out

Tears flow as El Portal trailer residents are forced out

For years, Jules and other impoverished residents of El Portal’s Little Farm mobile home park have lived on second chances.

The rundown trailer park has burned through four owners in less than 10 years. There was a bankruptcy and two lawsuits — the latter a last-ditch attempt to save perhaps 150 families from eviction. A previous owner racked up $8 million in code enforcement fines for leaking sewage, overflowing garbage and dangerous electrical wiring.

The Village of El Portal envisions the 15-acre property as an upscale new development, with townhouses, apartments and shops. The park’s new owner, a company called Wealthy Delight, hasn’t said what it wants to build there, the village manager said, though it has become clear that the plans don’t include trailers with poor people and elders.