Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Media Coverage


CBS 4 Miami Video

Miami Herald


Grand Welcoming- Everyone Invited

You are cordially invited to the Take Back the Land Grand Welcoming celebration.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 2, 2006 beginning at 6:00pm at the Take Back the Land Shantytown, on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in Liberty City.

Come experience the Power of the People as we celebrate the liberation of public land for the public good.

In response to the severe housing crisis, and the active role played by government officials in exacerbating the crisis, several organizations, led by the Center for Pan-African Development, took control of publicly owned land on NW 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in the Liberty City section of Miami.

Since then, we have provided food for the hungry and housing for the homeless on a daily basis.

Come meet our hard working residents, our wonderful neighbors and our dedicated volunteers as we celebrate a new way to address social issues- by solving the problem ourselves.

We look forward to seeing you there. Donations are welcome.


Max Rameau
Center for Pan-African Development

blog, petition, pictures and donations:

Article and more pictures


Category305.com did a piece on the Shantytown, including some wonderful pictures. Take a look at




Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shantytown Pictures

No, Take Back the Land and the Shantytown are not some elaborate internet hoax. To prove it, and in response to overwhelming requests, here are pictures of the Liberated land. I hope you enjoy the pictures and support the cause.


Max Rameau

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Anti-War Rally at Shantytown




Exit I-95 at NW 62 St Exit and travel 10 blocks west- NE corner

The South Florida Peace & Justice Network's "Peace SpeakingTour" will be stopping in Liberty City this Saturday afternoon at 4PM were Carlos and Melida Arredondo will join the "Take Back The Land" squatters and protesters to demand "Money For Housing Not For War!"

We will be focusing in on the corruption that is behind both the City of Miami housing crisis and the war in Iraq and on the need to build grassroots movements that put people before profits.

Please join us and take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with both the organizers of the Liberty City protest and the Arredondos.

Carlos Arredondo became famous as the Hollywood father who, when advised of the death in Iraq of his son, Lcpl. Alexander Arredondo USMC, responded out of anguish and grief by setting fire to a US Marine van and to himself. Melida Arredondo is Carlos' wife and stepmother to Alexander. The Arredondos began speaking about the tragedy of becoming a Gold Star Family at the one-year anniversary of Alexander's death. They have traveled throughout the US speaking in both English and Spanish and have had numerous articles written chronicling their work.

A visit from the Miami CRB

The Miami Community Relations Board (CRB) paid a little visit to the shanty town on Thursday. They came in, sat down and wanted to talk about our concerns and problems.

Several of us, including me, had no interest what-so-ever in the conversation for at least a few reasons: first, we have nothing to discuss. They know our issues and the know our only demand (Leave us Alone), and if we discuss that demand, then they will not actually be leaving us alone, now would they? And second, if we were to negotiate, they do not have the power for us to negotiate with them.

In any event, several volunteers, activists, residents and neighbors were at the site talking, so they CRB talked to them. While we missed most of the conversation, this one snippet we caught was great:

A CRB member said she wanted to address the issues because the shanty town was unsafe for adults and children. One of our neighbors from the complex behind the lot got hot under the collar quick. She said: "Unsafe? My child has been bitten several times by rats right in our apartment! The shanty town is safer than my apartment. You (the City of Miami) should shut down my apartment complex and leave the shanty town alone."

Surely the CRB members were disgusted when all involved demanded they take a tour of the dilapidated apartment complex. Of course, we all know the CRB was not there to address the issues of poverty and housing, they were there to shut down the shanty town and reclaim government land.

Nice try!

Community Support

Community support for the Take Back the Land shanty town has been incredible.

First of all, immediately behind our lot is a dilapidated apartment complex. The residents are very unhappy with the conditions of the complex and fully support our mission. On the first day, they, without being asked, took up a collection and gave us our first donation. Since then, they have helped us cook and build our housing structures.

Several individuals have offered to provide food, including two ladies who cooked twice for us, so far, in four days. They drive from downtown, past our location during rush hour traffice, get home, cook for us, then go back home for the evening.

Total strangers drive by, pull over and help carry things, donate clothing, water, food or money and lend their emotional support. Small businesses donate some of their goods to us. And one contractor stopped by with roofing materials and four roofers to make our kitchen and housing units water proof.

Each stop is a huge moral boost for our volunteers and residents who see, in a concrete manner, that we are supported by the community around us. We would not be able to do this without their support and know we are doing the right thing as we continue to recieve it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006



We did it!

Yesterday, a group of organizations and individuals, led by the Center for Pan-African Development, successfully took over land in Liberty City.

Fed up with broken government promises and stolen money, activists and residents took over the vacant publicly owned land on 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in the Liberty City section of Miami. Miami police tried to evict us, but, having done our research in advance, we had lawyers tne the law on our side.

We fed over 50 people and housed about 20. Today and through the week, we will continue to build our city. Our objective is not just to make a statement, it is to directly provide housing to poor Black people, to do for our community what the government and market are unwilling and uncapable of doing.

Please show your support by coming to our shanty town any evening you can. We are also in need of donations: wood, building material, blankets, tarps, tents, food, money and your time. We must show that the concept of direct people control over land is an idea with support.

Also, review two media pieces from yesterday at:



Max Rameau
Center for Pan-African Development

Take Back the Land Announcement

The Pan-African Perspective: Take Back the Land

URGENT: Take Back the Land Needs Help


You have heard people say it and now it is being done: The Center for Pan-African Development, along with several other dedicated organizations and individuals, have taken over a vacant parcel of publicly owned land and will build a shanty town to house the homeless.

As you are aware, South Florida has suffered under a critical shortage of affordable housing. However, instead of creating more affordable housing, local government officials have been busy decreasing the number of affordable housing units, through bad public policy, such as the HOPE VI project, which destroyed 851 units of public housing, replacing it with 80 units; and the intentional vacancies in public housing. Following a series of media reports detailing practices of stealing from the poor to deliver to the rich, county officials have given virtually nothing to the community to compensate for the lost housing, stolen money or broken trust.

The reality is this: far from providing a solution to the housing crisis, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami officials are exacerbating the crisis. Poor Black people in need of housing are suffering disproportionately and unnecessarily, just so that a few officials and developers can line their own pockets. Therefore, the Black community can no longer depend on the government to provide basic human services for us. Consequently, we must provide it ourselves. We must 'Take Back the Land' so that we can circumvent the problem and implement our own solution.

As of 3:00pm today, Monday, October 23, 2006, we are attempting to liberate the land on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in the Liberty City section of Miami, and build a shanty town to feed and house the homeless and those living in squalor.


Come out RIGHT NOW to support the drive for community control over community land. Your support could be the difference between success and failure. We need people there now to show support for this important and historic effort. Do your part to ensure this land belongs to the community, and is not given away to wealthy developers. With your support, we will be there all night, all week, all year, providing basic food and shelter for the homeless.

We need your help. Come to 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in Liberty City now and all of this week.


Max Rameau
Center for Pan-African Development

The Housing Crisis: What Next?

The Pan-African Perspective
The Housing Crisis: What Next?

In South Florida and across the country, poor people suffer under a crisis of affordable housing. The shrinking housing stock forces people to commit desperate acts just to access decent and safe housing they can afford. The impact on the Black community is devastating, as gentrification moves us out of our long time neighborhoods to make room for wealthier, lighter people.

As the crisis worsened, instead of increasing the amount of affordable housing, local governments worked hard to decrease the number of units, directly, and intentionally, contributing to the crisis in the process. Far from being an ally in the fight for decent human housing, the government, in the pockets of wealthy developers looking to become even wealthier, made the crisis worse.

In response to the crisis, community organizations and individuals tried in vain to meaningfully impact public policy through engagement. At least since 1998, we organized residents, met with commissioners, developed alternative policies and plans, attended meetings, supported initiatives of elected officials and even protested. We addressed HOPE VI, vacancies in public housing, the destruction of rental units by the city of Miami in Liberty City, improving conditions in public and low income private housing, increasing Section 8 vouchers, increasing affordable housing, supporting small locally owned businesses and other measures designed to increase the housing stock and stop gentrification.

The activists did everything “responsible” people should: engaged decision makers with a combination of sweet talk and pressure, relying on logic, statistics and appeals of conscious, urging a public policy which benefits the common good. Running up against the interests of developers and the power of their lobbyists, the community stood no chance.

Elected officials dissed us, the media ignored us and the people suffered. Nonetheless, it cannot be said that the community did not work within the system to seek meaningful change. We tried that route, in good faith and over time. The system failed us, and, therefore, we can not rely on it to solve our most fundamental problems.

As gentrification and the housing crisis have re-emerged in public discourse, spurred by the exposure of scandal inside Miami-Dade County government, it is clear that three distinct issue areas exist:

Corruption. Government officials and developers engage each other in immoral, unethical and illegal ways. Corruption prevents the public from getting the most for their tax money and officials from making decisions with the best interest of the people at heart. Corruption is a severe and pervasive problem in South Florida government and business life. However, it is important to recognize that corruption did not cause the shortage of affordable housing, it only exacerbated an existing crisis.

Public Policy. Even without an ounce of corruption, there would still be a housing crisis. Government policies on affordable housing promote the interests of developers at the expense of the poor, thus advancing the crisis. For example, during the crisis, officials voted to raze 851 units of public housing, and replace it with 80 new public housing units and 450 units total, all against the wishes of the impacted community. The HOPE VI plan deliberately reduced the number of affordable housing units, granting developers millions in contracts and empowering landlords to raise rents on the shrinking affordable renting stock. This and other government policies intentionally promote the housing crisis.

Economic and Social System. Corruption and public policy aside, the real question is this: does the economic and social system directly benefit from maintaining a permanent underclass? If so, is the system itself capable of providing that class with housing and social services? The structural issue of the relationship between poor Black people and the land they occupy, but do not own or control, is at the heart of segregation and gentrification.

The surface issues we confront are gentrification and housing, however, as the system and structural questions imply, the fundamental issues are really land and power. We must fundamentally change the power relationship between people and land in order to avoid being segregated into and gentrified out of our land, at the whim of those who benefit from our misery and the officials who do their bidding.

So, what is the next step in the fight? Historic and recent experience demonstrate that defending our community against gentrification and ensuring housing for all, demands we circumvent the powers that be and exercise direct control over land. That is the only viable option remaining.

Max Rameau
The Center for Pan-African Development