On Feb. 18, many in Tulare County’s Linnell Camp came together and said, “Ya basta! We will be heard!” People stood with their heads held high, trembling inside from the courage it takes to risk everything. But enough is enough; they would be pushed no further without speaking the truth.
Approximately 80 community members gathered at Linnell Camp to expose the gross and illegal attacks of intimidation and threats against the underrepresented population of this low-income farmworker community.
New management of the Tulare County Housing Authority at Linnell Camp reportedly attempted to evict about 50 residents of the labor camp, telling them they had three days to move. They were told the police would be called to arrest them if they did not leave.
Other residents were told to expect new rules added to their contract, such as no BBQs on the property, a ban on swings for the children and children not being allowed to play outside. Management rationalized this by saying the facility did not have the insurance to cover the children.
One resident who is legally going through the process for citizenship complied with the Housing Authority eviction demand out of fear of jeopardizing her legal status. She and her three children moved out and have been living in her van during this winter’s freezing cold nights.
Male and female residents spoke of the many injustices being perpetrated against them by the Housing Authority. Attendees held back tears while listening to these stories.
Members of community organizations who attended the meeting included Armida Quezada, a family advocate for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency; Arturo Rodriguez, communication/organizing director for the Central Valley Empowerment Alliance; Raymond Macareno and John Hess of the Tulare County Housing Authority; Larry Micari and Amy Shuklian, Tulare County supervisors; Hernan Hernandez and Gladys Flores of Unidad Popular Benito Juarez; Captain Joe Torres of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office; and Reyna Rodriguez, public relations specialist for Proteus.
On Feb. 15, Reyna Rodriguez took a group of Linnell Camp residents to a Housing Authority board meeting to give testimony. The board then notified Supervisor Micari, who arranged for the Feb. 18 meeting at Linnell Camp.
Housing Authority Chair Hess said that he was just learning of the issue and would immediately suspend all eviction notices until he could find out what was going on.
Captain Torres, who was raised in the Central Valley and knows farm work, assured the labor camp residents that only the Sheriff’s Office can evict people from their homes. He said that if it wasn’t a member of the Sheriff’s Office at their door, they did not have to leave their home.
Torres also left his business card for residents to contact him if they are threatened again. Hernandez assured the farmworker community that a three-day eviction notice is against the law. He noted that if you have lived in your home for one year, you must be given at least 30 days; if two years, it is 60 days.
On this night, farmworkers came together and got as real as you can get. They were united and spoke their truth. Standing not only to defend their families but also to speak against injustice. Their voices were heard. They saw that being poor does not mean you are helpless and weak. The community stood together and was strong. The people were united as One Village.
Si se puede!
[…] Farm Labor Centers working on getting playgrounds for children. He has received many calls about illegal evictions and has spoken with the Housing […]