Friday, November 03, 2006

a shanty town has been built in liberty city

check out the take back the land blog. this is inspiring. here is the miami herald article on it:

Housing activists set up camp in Liberty City
Protesters angry at a lack of affordable housing set up a tent camp on cityowned land in Liberty City.

A group of activists pitched camp in the heart of Liberty City on Monday to protest what they called the failure of the city and Miami-Dade County to build affordable housing.

Carrying tents, tarps and banners that read, ''Take back the Land!,'' the group said it was building a shantytown on a vacant, city-owned lot to house hundreds of the neighborhood's homeless.

''The government is an active part of the problem,'' said Max Rameau, spokesman for the Center for Pan-African Development, an activist organization. ``The city and the county have no interest in housing poor black people, so we will do it ourselves.''

About 40 people gathered at the corner of Northwest 62nd Street and 17th Avenue. As they pitched tents and served soup on the trash-strewn lot, passersby stopped to look.

Among them was 20-year-old Roderick Mitchell, a former resident of the Scott/Carver Homes. Mitchell said he and his sister have lived with relatives since their section of the huge housing complex closed in 2004.

Mitchell said he planned to join the group camping out Monday night.

''This statement can help,'' Mitchell said, gesturing at the activity around him.

But Rameau, one of the key organizers, said his intention is not simply to make a statement. The group, including members of Hope for the Homeless and Hopeless and the Fort Lauderdale chapter of Food Not Bombs, intends to provide shelter and food indefinitely, Rameau said.

The group did not notify the city of its intention to take over the lot.

Several city police cruisers -- including one carrying Neighborhood Enhancement Team administrator Von Carol Kinchens -- drove up about 30 minutes after the activists converged on the lot.

The officers warned the protesters they could face arrest but then left.

''As long as there's no criminal activity, we're just letting them vent out,'' said William Moreno, a department spokesman.

Rameau said the group is protected by a landmark legal case, Pottinger v. City of Miami, a class-action suit filed by the ACLU and settled in 1998.

The settlement prohibited Miami police from arresting homeless people engaged in ''life-sustaining conduct'' -- such as sleeping or eating -- on public property when there is no shelter space available.

The people who set up camp on the lot should remain in the clear legally as long as they don't obstruct traffic or damage property, said Ray Taseff, an attorney affiliated with the Miami ACLU.

''I really can't see how the city can argue around it,'' Taseff said of the Pottinger settlement. ``The police did the right thing today.''

you can support "take back the land" by signing their online petition.