From Where We Are

Section 14 Survivors Take on the City of Palm Springs

Nearly 60 years after being forcibly evicted, survivors and their descendants seek restitution

"A photo of the press conference in Leimert Park called by attorney Areva Martin and the survivors of Section 14.

Areva Martin: So just imagine you’re a little kid coming home from school to this neighborhood that you love, to the neighbors that you love, and you see your house on fire and you can’t call City Hall. You can’t call your city councilperson. You can’t even call your city fire department. That’s because it was your city fire department

Mya Mariey Vinnett: Areva Martin is the civil rights attorney representing between 400 to 500 victims of The Section 14 forcible housing evictions in Palm Springs back in the 1950s and 60s. City officials burned and bulldozed the houses of working class Black and Mexican families an effort to develop the city into what it is today

Areva Martin: Many of you know, Palm Springs a place that is the playground for the rich and famous, the ultra wealthy, but as Palm Springs was developing into this exotic playground, , it was keeping a very, very dark secret. And that secret is called Section 14.

Mya Mariey Vinnett: Survivors of Sections 14 are upwards of 60 years old but they haven’t forgotten what happened.

Delia Reese Taylor: I was going into seventh grade when our family was forced to move from the safe and secure life that I knew. My father worked hard and built our home and we had to leave it behind. My childhood innocence, fun and happy going life was taken from me when we moved into a neighborhood that was filled with racism, hate and anger. There was a family with three brothers whose house I had to walk by when I went to the local market. They would yell at me and call me wetback and go back to Mexico. I didn’t even know where Mexico was.

Pearl Devers : We ended up leaving our home. It just seemed like to me out of the blue. Well, not only did we leave our home, we left my precious daddy behind. My daddy was one that was going to stick it out. I had no idea why we were leaving as a child. But I later found out that we were forced out of our home.

Areva Martin: And someone asked me, Well, how come the city didn’t use eminent domain? How come they didn’t use a legal eviction process? I don’t have the answers to that. I can tell you there’s no evidence that they did that, that they did use any legal process to remove these families. We do know that they were driven by greed.

Mya Mariey Vinnett:: Economist Julianne Malveaux who was hired by the victim’s legal team values the damages of survivors and their descendants at $400 million to $2 billion.

Julianne Malveaux: It’s a modest number, frankly An apology is fine. But you can’t put butter on an apology and make it edible. Economic harm was done to these families, and that’s what we have to deal with.

Mya Mariey Vinnett: Survivors of Section 14 are encouraged to reach out to the Martin and Martin Law Firm or join the Palm Spring Section 14 Survivors Facebook group. For Annenberg Media I’m Mya Mariey Vinnett.