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How To LA: Why A Vacant Lot in Palm Springs Holds Trauma

A group of people, many of them appearing to be over the age of 65 and wearing white t-shirts, pose for a photo on a grassy lawn.
Section 14 survivors and descendants pose for a recent photo in Palm Springs with their attorney, Areva Martin, at center, wearing black.
(Courtesy of Martin & Martin LLP)
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You might know Palm Springs as California's “playground for the rich and famous.” Most weekends, Hollywood celebrities and everyday Angelenos alike grab their cutest bikinis, golf clubs and shades to go soak up the sun poolside out there.

But Palm Springs has a dark history.

Palm Springs reparations

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My colleague Leslie Berestein Rojas spoke with several Black and Latino families who are now fighting for reparations more than half a century after Palm Springs government officials ordered their homes be bulldozed, set afire and completely destroyed. Back in the 1950s and 60s, there was a desire for more profitable developments to take their place.

It was an area called Section 14 and it was home to mostly service workers — housekeepers and carpenters — who had to live there because of housing discrimination elsewhere in the city. It was modest, and former homeowners remember it as a thriving community. Today, decades after officials evicted residents and destroyed homes, the area remains a place of trauma for people who once lived there, like Alvin Taylor’s family.

Taylor said it drastically changed his family’s dynamics.

“The trauma is something that stays there forever,” Taylor said. “I just remember us being treated like cattle, and herded off like sheep.”

Read the rest of Leslie’s story to learn about why these homes were razed and what’s next for the residents who were pushed out of their homes in Section 14.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

More news

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • Good to know: Three eastbound lanes of the 134 Freeway will be closed in Pasadena through Friday. It will reopen on Saturday morning. Caltrans is putting a safety inspection platform in place. 
  • The school support staff members of Service Employees International Union Local 99 have voted to ratify a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District. The agreement includes a raise by about 30%. Now, the LAUSD school board has to vote on the contract. 
  • Police are looking for a person who wrote anti-Muslim words on the Islamic Center of Southern California’s Koreatown building on Sunday. My colleague Nate Perez has more on why this attack is not an isolated incident. 
  • It’s been two years since the Black Student Achievement Plan launched in 110 LAUSD schools with significant Black enrollment. While there have been some gains, much of the funds have not been used and the caliber of the programming varies depending on the school.
  • Have you seen a little blue jellyfish-like creature on the Southern California shores? It’s called velella velella.  It’s a small creature that’s been making more appearances on shores due to recent storms and climate change. 
  • If you have rainwater in your empty pool, you may want to pump it out to avoid mosquitoes. My colleague Leslie Berestein Rojas has some more advice on what you should do to avoid mosquitoes in your back yard. 
  • State auditors have launched a review to see how local agencies are spending funds on homelessness. Read my colleague Nick Gerda’s article for more on what the auditors hope to accomplish. 
  • California is just one of the states that is stocking up on abortion pills for emergencies in case mifepristone is halted due to pending federal rulings.
  • There’s been a spike in strep infections over the last few months in the U.S. and the shortage of liquid amoxicillin products for children doesn't make it any easier to handle. 
  • NPR’s Susannah Broun loves movie trailers. So much so she wrote a love letter to them and what she calls the “joy of shared anticipation.”
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

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Wait! One More Thing...

Meet some members of the party crews from back in the day

(Samanta Helou Hernandez

For the interesting story of the week, I want to take you to the world of the Latino teens who partied in Southern California in the 1990s and 2000s. My colleague Samanta Helou Hernandez spent some time photographing and talking to several original party crew members featured in the LAist Studios podcast, Party Crews: The Untold Story. This was a time when young people could dance and have a good time with friends, but it wasn’t always a safe space.

Despite all of the good times, there were shootings and police raids. And adults often labeled the party crews as out-of-control teens who used drugs or were affiliated with gangs.

One teenager named Emmery Muñoz was murdered in 2006 after one of these underground parties. Janice Llamoca, the creator of Party Crews: The Untold Story experienced the thrills of the party scene, but she remembers finding out about Emmery.

“She's the reason I'm in it. She's the reason I'm even looking back. I wanted to make sure that her story was also there, and I could look into it because it is what drove me to look back anyways.”

Check out Samanta’s photo essay with pictures then and now of party crew members from way back in the day.

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