Sunday, January 07, 2007

Victory for Umoja Village Shantytown!

Anti-shantytown ordinance is pulled, will not be voted on

After initially sponsoring the item, city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones pulled the "anti-shantytown" ordinance from the January 11 agenda. This means the new law will not be voted on and, therefore, the Umoja Village Shantytown is safe- for now.

Take Back the Land is organizing a press conference to announce the legal victory and next steps. The press conference is scheduled for Monday, January 8, 2007, beginning at 4:00pm at the Umoja Village, on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in the Liberty City section of Miami. We will also host a rally at the Umoja Village on Thursday night at 6:00pm. See details at the end of this message.

There is no two ways about it: this is a clear and major victory for Take Back the Land and our supporters. This item was pulled due to the tremendous and overwhelming opposition to the ordinance. We thank each and every one of you for your support, calls, emails, petition signatures, support and contributions of time, goods and money.

WE WON THE BATTLE, BUT THE WAR IS NOT OVER! The ordinance was pulled, but it was not voted down. As such, it can be revived at any time in the future, or different tactics can be used to try to bring down the village.  Our support network and legal team remain intact and ready to activate.

In response to the crisis in gentrification and low-income housing, and the role local government policies and corruption played in exacerbating that crisis, on October 23, 2006, several organizations and individuals took control over the vacant publicly owned lot on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th  Ave. in Liberty City. Using the legal protections afforded in the landmark Pottinger Settlement, the Umoja Village currently houses and feeds over 40 otherwise homeless people in wood frame shanties.

Acknowledging our legal rights to the land, the Miami city attorney crafted the ordinance to outlaw "assemblies" of any size on vacant public lots. In addition to restricting the public's right to free assembly, the ordinance would have, theoretically, outlawed the shantytown and set up a showdown and potential raid of the village.

The pulled item allows Take Back the Land to refocus energies on improve the quality of life for residents of the Umoja Village and taking on new initiatives, some of which will be discussed at the press conference on Monday and rally on Thursday. Please come to the events and check your email for important updates.

In recognition of this new development, Take Back the Land is hosting a celebration rally on the day the vote was to take place. On Thursday, January 11th, 2007, at 6:00pm, at the Umoja Village, we rally in celebration of our victory and continue our march forward. We ask that you bring a side dish to share and bring a donation to the village, such as money, bottled water, canned meat, blankets, dish soap, bleach, large trash bags (39 gallons or larger), clothes and money. All are invited and welcome, so come rally in support of the village, against gentrification and for housing for all and celebrate our victory- YOUR victory- with us on Thursday.

Take Back the Land runs entirely off of donations, so please contribute generously in person or by donating online via a secure paypal payment.


Max Rameau
Take Back the Land
A project of the Center for Pan-African Development




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