Thursday, February 15, 2007

Name Wall Shut Down!

Fenced out!

Today, Miami Workers Center, LIFFT, and former residents of Scott Homes held an emergency press conference and rally criticizing the county’s night-time raid on the “Find Our People” Name Wall and the Justice for Scotts campaign headquarters at the last remaining Scotts Home.

Over fifty people attended the press conference and rally, called for only hours earlier.
At midnight on Valentines Night, police, county workers, and fence builders surrounded the last remaining Scott building and disassembled the “Find Our People” Name Wall and the Justice for Scotts campaign headquarters at the last remaining Scotts Home.

Late night resistance

Last week, community residents repelled the county’s attempt to shut the effort down for over four hours. Ultimately Mayor Alvarez’s office stepped in and told MDHA not to construct the fence.

The month-long effort that has located over 300 displaced residents from the demolished Scott Carver Homes, was effectively shut down by the county in the dead of night.

Over the course of several hours a private fencing company erected an 8-foot tall fence around the last remaining Scott building. 'No Trespass' signs hang on the fence in stark contrast to a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. that declares “Justice for Scotts.”

A volunteer, Karaka Campbell, was at the wall when the fence company and police showed up. He quickly jumped into action calling community organizers who then activated an ad-hoc phone tree to rile people from sleep and witness the destruction of the community space and campaign headquarters they had constructed.

Volunteer Karaka Campbell and Cindy Weisner of the Miami Workers Center secure the wall and supplies in a neighbor's yard

While the workers put up the fence police kept former residents and community organizers across the street where they held a banner that said”850 Homes Destroyed.” As the night wore on more community members showed up.

Aiyeshia Hudson of the Miami Workers Center said, “Where is the mayor now? Its Valentines night, and they come out here and shut us down when we are doing good in the community. Where is the love?”

Ms. Nesbitt telling her story to the press

“They came like thieves in the night,” said Caprice Brown former Scott resident and member of LIFFT. “and why did they shut us down? Because we are doing a better job than them. We are finding our people, we are fighting for justice.”

Stop Urban Removal!

Several speakers spoke broadly about the struggle for justice at Scotts where 850 families were displaced by the county with the aid of a federal HOPE VI grant. “This about more than this one building this is about bringing 850 units back here. It is about bringing the community back,” said Yvonne Stratford, former Scott resident and leader of LIFFT. “And this building here. We need to make this a Black History museum. We need to remember where we came from to know where we are going.”

Pastor Dawkins preaching

Beyond the former residents and representatives of grassroots organizations there were at least five congregations represented.
“My mother raised 7 children in these projects and she died just three months after they pushed her out of her apartment,” raged Pastor Anthony Dawkins of Project Hope Outreach Ministries. “Our people aren’t only dying from guns they are being murdered in county hall when they kill our dreams.”

Pastor Dawkins closed with “They may chain off this building but they wont chain off our hearts.”

Thursday, February 8, 2007


The last remaining Scotts Home before MDHA tried to fence it (we painted that mural in the last month)

After a four hour stand-off with police, community members successfully defended the last remaining Scott Home site, in the heart of Liberty City, a historically African-American neighborhood. Late Wednesday night, director of MDHA, Kriss Warren threatened to evict the Jusstice for Scotts campaign from the site. The group has been using the site as a base of operations for finding displaced residents of Scott Carver Homes for over a month.

When the county showed up at 10 AM this morning to fence off the site a group of community members supported by members of Low-Income Families Fighting Together, Power U, and Umoja Village refused to leave the area.

'nuff said

Community members held strong in the confrontation with police. When the police pulled up an arrest wagon and got out their handcuffs four community members joined hands declaring they would not be moved. Rev. Willie McCrae of the Redemption Missionary Baptist Church and the Heart and Soul Coalition, Mr. Joe Billups of LIFFT, James Tally of Brothers of the Same Mind and Lion from the New Black panther Party bravely held their ground as the police huddled around trying to figure out what to do. They were eventually joined by a fifth community member, an unnamed county worker. He saw the confrontation while driving by. He called into his boss, took the rest of the day off and came back to the land where be helped stopped construction of the fence and risked arrest. In a moment of calm he said, ”This is my community, my history, so many people have come out of this place and I wont let them destroy it.”

Rev. McCrae

James Tally stopping construction of the fence

As workers tried to put up fencing people ran from post to post slowing the construction. With only part of the fence up the work ground to a halt.
Free the press!

Over half-a-dozen reporters stood along 22nd Ave straining to get interviews and shots of what was happening. The police blocked off the entire block claiming the need for crowd control. Media interviews with former residents were done over yellow caution tape.

"Shame on MDHA!"

Defending the Find Our People Name Wall

At one point county workers were brought in to remove the Find Our People Name Wall. The wall has been central to finding over 300 displaced families from Scott Homes since it was built over a month ago. Daily 20-30 people come by the wall to share stories of their old neighbors and give information about displaced family members and friends. Over 200 names of ‘lost’ former residents have been turned over to the county. The county is clearly embarrassed that a volunteer force with little more than some white paint, sheets of plywood and magic markers has done what MDHA has not been able to do in five years.

The county workers left the area proclaiming "These people [the bosses] put us in a messed up situation." They refused to continue working to displace the wall and with it what many see as the brightest hope in winning Justice for Scotts.



After four hours of cat and mouse games between fence builders and grassroots activists and community members a representative of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez came out and told the workers to remove the fence.

This victory is one battle in the fight for Justice for Scotts.

Police Moving In

10:13 Am. The police are at the last remaining Scott Building getting into formation to arrest community members. There is a police wagon and 5 police cars.

County Moves to Crush Name Wall

Last night the new director of Miami Dade Housing Agency, Kris Warren, threatened to crush a community effort to locate over 600 families the county admitted to loosing from their housing rolls. In an email sent to the Miami Workers Center on Wednesday February 7, Warren stated "You must remove your signs and personal items today. We will be erecting a fence around the property."

Former residents of Scott Homes, LIFFT, and the Miami Workers Center erected the "Find Our People" Name Wall in January. Since then hundreds of former residents have gathered at the site, signing their names on the wall. The Justice for Scotts campaign headquarters attracted over 350 families in less than a month and provided the names of over 200 "lost" Scott families to the housing agency.

"We have been highly effective at finding displaced and lost families with some plywood, paint, and volunteers. This is MDHA's job. They displaced this community, lost track of the people, and now are shutting us down when we do their job for them. They are trying to hide the problem all over again," said Tony Romano, organizing director of the Miami Workers Center.

The attack is seen by many as politically motivated. During Super Bowl week, local groups capitalized on the national and international media frenzy of the Super Bowl to highlight Miami's housing crisis and poverty. Articles highlighting the dire circumstances in Miami appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the UK Guardian, national radio and many local news outlets.

The community will respond to this threat today at 11 AM at the last remaining Scott Home, the corner of 72nd St and 22nd Ave NW. There will also be an update session at the site this evening at 5:30 PM.

To read the UK Guardian article go here.

To read the LA Times article go here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What's In My Heart

By Karaka Campbell, former Scott resident, LIFFT member.

We were forced from Scott Projects by HOPE VI, which failed the community. We have a concern for all the homeless people that were put out of their homes with a promise of Section 8 housing. Homes were stolen from up under the people who resided in them. Affordable homes are supposed to be built for these people. From what I know only 12 people have new homes right now.

Now I am fighter for justice for the Scott Projects people. I am one of those people who you can find sitting in front of the last remaining Scott Home. What is this letter for? Well, I'll tell you: We at LIFFT would like to keep this last standing building as a museum for black history. Scott Projects is a part of black history in the black community in Liberty City, Miami, Florida. We would like to see this monument in the middle of a black community.

HOPE VI promised us so much but really it was just developers trying to muscle the working class citizens out of their community.

We at LIFFT would like the people in power and to finance to support this Black History Museum as a monument to your neighborhood. How many of us successful people came from one of these projects? How many know how it feels to lose your history when developers tear down your past?

When I came back to Miami I could not recognize the place that I used to live. Put yourself in my shoes and the people that are homeless as well. Join the fight for what's right and let's save the last remaining Scott Home. Help us fight and win affordable homes for all the Scott Projects residents. Bring the community back to where we know their history.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Glitz and Glam Granny Cheer Squad

Displaced women from Scott Homes and their families in matching, uniforms, and pom-poms cheered for homes and justice at a press event at the NFL YET Center, in Liberty City, yesterday. The press event was meant to celebrate the expansion of the YET Center. But the Grannies say that expansion could be better used if they and the rest of the 850 families displaced from the immediate area of Scott Homes could return to the community they were displaced from.

The Triple G Cheer Squad cheered while politicians, press and participants entered the YET Center. According to an inside observer the press asked many questions about what was going on outside. While the squad cheered, a flatbed truck manned by Bring Da Funk DJ Crew stopped traffic on 22nd Ave blasting hip-hop. Emcee Guru hyped the crowd and kept the message clear. “The Glitz and Glam Cheer Squad cheering for Scotts. That’s right folks drop it low for 850 homes. We aint going nowhere without justice for Scotts” he told the crowd of amazed reporters and onlookers.
The Triple G Cheer Squad also attracted a lot of police attention with at least 10 police officers monitoring the crew of youth and grannies as they shook their pom-poms and cheered for justice.After the press event, the YET Center along with the Miami Dolphins held a youth football clinic. Again the Glitz and Glam Granny Cheer Squad was there, cheering as the youth ran out onto the field. Triple G Cheer squad also took the opportunity to approach Commissioner Dorrin Rolle and the NFL officials. After a brief conversation Rolle agreed to meet with Low-Income Families Fighting Together about the struggle at Scotts.
The NFL YET center is in the middle of the wasteland that was once Scott Homes. Across from the NFL YET Center, the last standing Scott building is being used by community members as a base for their fight to reclaim the land and community. They have a 24-hour presence at the site where they built a Name Wall collecting information on their displaced neighbors, painted a mural of Dr. MLK Jr., built a community garden and hold weekly BBQ’s.

“We set up at the last Scott Home because it is historic. That Scott Home needs to be the roots from which this community will grow again,” said Yvonne Stratford, of the GGG Cheer Squad and LIFFT. “These buildings were here for over 50 years, you had generations of families all living together. And then you go and kick them all out. We want 850 homes built back here. We want our community back.”

According to an Orlando Sentinel article published last week the NFL YET Center serves a mere 300 kids a day, down from 800 a day when Scott Homes was still standing.

After leaving the NFL YET Center the Glitz and Glam Granny Cheer Squad rolled through Liberty City on the flat bed truck. They stopped in Liberty Square Projects (The Pork and Beans) as well as Umoja Village (shantytown) where they cheered against gentrification, for Scott Homes and for justice. At both stops excited fans received them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Struggle for Scotts Continues

It is a very exciting time. The Scotts Struggle headquarters and the Find Our People Name Wall have been hosting a number of events in the past few weeks.

On Saturdays we throw Justice for Scotts BBQs from 2 -6pm. Here are some photos.

We also painted a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the end wall on the last remaining Scott Home. Come by and see it in person at the corner of 22nd Avenue and 72nd St. NW. (or you can look at the photo below.)