Turkey for all in South LA

imageE.J. Jackson knew how desperately people would need him this year.

Before dawn he was up, lighting bonfires for the people already in line for his turkey giveaway.

He’s been doing this for 23 years, but this year the need was the worst he’s ever seen.

His volunteers have been working nonstop for the last few days.

“…We had to make up 20,000 boxes, 20,000 turkeys…And it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Jodie Fallon’s a volunteer with the Jackson Limousine Dinner Giveaway.

She said last year it pulled in ten thousand people, tops.

Last week, Jackson was worried the donations would fall far short of the need.

But corporate and private donors stepped up to help.

Now he’s emptying two mac-trucks full of frozen turkey.

Since four in the morning, Fallon’s been…

“…Packing and packing and we’re still packing right now…I just had to get a break. I snuck out….but it’s a really good event and it helps a lot of people. See how many people out here?”

One of these people is Dee Brown. I met her when she was getting her friend to help her cut in front of people who’d been waiting in line since last night.

“Are people going to be okay with that? I hope so, I’m just going to slide in and pretend like I was part of the picture”

If you can’t tell by the lack of line etiquette, she’s new here.

She used to work in a hospital but got laid off. Her income’s all dried up.

And finding herself in line for food? It’s…

“Humbling, very humbling.”

She says her unemployment check hardly covers the rent. And everywhere, prices are rising.

“Well times are hard. You know, inflation goes up… Everything went up. You know, just a bag of potato chips is five dollars…But I didn’t notice that until I got laid off. And so when they offer things out here for the community, you know at the time I didn’t need it, but now since I’m laid off, I’m out here just like everybody else.”

Which is exactly why Jackson feels he has to return every year, Turkeys and groceries in hand, the Santa of Thanksgiving.

South Central farmers protest shuts down city council

Photo: Supporters of the South Central Farm rallying before Tuesday’s City Council meeting

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to accept $3.6 million from real estate developer Ralph Horowitz and not require him to build a park on the site of the South Central Farm near 41st and South Alameda streets. The money from Horowitz will go into a fund for parks and recreation areas. The vote allows Horowitz to sell the 14-acre site to clothing manufacturers who plan to build office and warehouse space.

The City Council was speechless. In her five years there, the city clerk says she’s never had a meeting shut down like this.

The people of District 9 are at arms over a plot of land that could fit in the Coliseum.

It’s a classic environment versus jobs fight over the land where the old South Central Farm used to sit.

On one side, the families who were promised a park, one green spot to play and breathe in a city of smog and concrete.

On the other, families and a city desperate for jobs and the millions of dollars this factory would mean.

Pro-park people feel their council member Jan Perry has gone around their back and sold one of LA’s only green spaces.

Bernette Serrano pointed directly at Perry when she spoke in front of the council. “That was a promise you had made to the community and so you need to make sure you fulfill that promise and stop breaking them,” said Serrano.

To them, Perry is a politician who has folded to corporate greed. image

But for every person who came to shout down the deal, there were at least two more people in favor of it.

In a speech that brought most of the room to their feet, the president of what was once the community garden spoke in favor of Perry.

“The majority of the gardeners that are here are supporting Ms. Jan Perry.”

To them, jobs trump a park any day.

The session exploded with a screaming match between a mother, child in arms, and the sergeant at arms trying to quiet her.

It was so noisy that all the people were forced out of the room.

Once in the hallway, everyone was still talking about it.

Serrano and other pro-park people feel they’ve lost the case. But if that’s so, the city still has to file an environmental report before it can build.

“And hopefully there, that’s where we can hit them good.They’re going to realize they can’t really do this even if they want to”

In the long political process, there’s always another chance to intervene.

Photos courtesy of South Central Farm Supporter Ross Plesset

Occupy L.A. Takes on City Hall

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageKIM: Well I think it’s like 7 or 8 in the morning.
SHELBY: I think it’s about 9.30 I’m not even sure, I think my phone’s dead.
JOE: I believe this is the north side of City H all. You’ve got your grassy knoll and it’s scattered with tents and people involved in the movement.
K: We have every basic need we could hope for.
J: Food and water.
K: A food tent that’s run solely on donations
S: We have a lot of peanut butter, I’ve noticed some bread. I’m eating pumpkin seeds right now.
K: It’s very much like living in a small community except you’re outside in tents.
K: Many people have different reasons for being here. Some of them want the end to the Federal Reserve.
S: I’m doing this so I people could be aware of what’s going on get people to stop living in their little shells and to expand themselves and to get to know people.
K: That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. I want an education and my sister owes 50 thousand dollars and now what the hell is she going to do? She works at Michael’s.
K: The main thing of it is an end to the corporate greed and an end to the corporations making decisions for us.
KYLE: Did it rain on you guys last night?
J: Last night? A sprinkle, yes.
RUBY: And I guess they said it was going to rain today so that’s why everyone has their tarps up. So we just set up along the side walk. And so at about 5 o clock in the morning someone wakes everybody up so that they can start moving people to the grass.
K: We could all sleep there as long as we leave 4 feet for the passersby to walk through.
S: I don’t want to deal with that. So we moved our tent around 5:45
K: 5 or 6 somebody usually comes around and tells everyone they can move back on the grass because it’s so uncomfortable.
R: But the cement’s not that bad to sleep on. You know when you sleep on the floor and it straightens out your back, it’s kind of like that.
K: It’s pretty weird to see moving tents sliding over to the grass.
S: They’re still in the process of organizing, still trying to get the hang of things.
R: During the day they have little groups and little forums. I know at 5:30 the Demands meets over there, and the Police Brutality meets over there.
S: It’s so awesome how everyone’s coming together I love it.
K: Everyone’s here in I would say unity, you know, we all have our disagreements, we all have our different opinions.
R: Everyone’s here for different reason but here for the same cause: to help the people out and wake up America.