Friday, December 15, 2006

City Plans to Raid Umoja Village

The city of Miami laid bare its plan to raid the Umoja Village Shantytown during its commission meeting on Thursday, December 14, 2006. The city attorney introduced an "emergency ordinance"- which did not appear on the agenda, making it impossible for community residents to organize a response- to change the definition of public land, laying the groundwork for the future raid.

The passed ordinance essentially alters "exempt public property" definitions. Specifically, the public has a right to assemble or walk through public property, except for exempt property. Exempt property includes city hall, fire stations, police stations and hospitals. The new ordinance adds vacant lots owned by the city to that list. This is totally brainless.

Worse still, District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is slandering the residents of Umoja Village. In spite of the fact that she has not even been to the shantytown in her district, she claims the place is full of drug users and potential child molesters. For the record, the homes and apartments around us send their children to the site virtually every afternoon for after school snacks and play time.

While Spence-Jones claims that Take Back the Land is "less concerned with solving homelessness than they are with making a political statement." For the record, Spence-Jones, a sitting elected official who oversees the poorest district in one of the poorest cities in the US, has so far proposed exactly ZERO dollars and ZERO cents in government subsidies for new homes for the poor or homeless.

Spence-Jones has, however, pushed and voted for millions in subsidies for the Crosswinds project, a multi-million dollar project which features one bedroom condos for $300,000 each. She has the nerve to say 'Please do not use the backs of my people and my community to make a point.'

Well, commissioner, we have a message for you: stop using the backs of our people to make a fortune from your rich developer friends. Here is another message: build housing for low income people. Here is a third: stop lying. Don't run for office saying you are going to vote against Crosswinds only to vote for it once you get in office.

The truth is, Manny Diaz is the commissioner for District 5, he just lets Michelle Spence-Jones vote once in a while. Diaz wants to move all of the poor out of Miami and provide subsidies for wealthy developers. That agenda is gentrifying the Black community and hurting the poor.

Take Back the Land is doing the city's job and the city hates it. Now they are planning to raid us.

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