Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors Make Historic Offer to Resolve Claims and Expand Tourism

July 3, 2024

Areva Martin and survivors of Section 14

Survivors of violent displacement in Section 14 urge City of Palm Springs officials that “it’s time for us to move forward together in healing.”

Palm Springs, CA (July 3, 2024) – The Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors and their descendants, led by attorney Areva Martin, on Wednesday announced that they have proposed to the City of Palm Springs a formal counteroffer of $42 million in total value, inclusive of cash payments and programmatic initiatives. The initiatives include efforts to promote tourism and expand the economic base for Palm Springs.

“My clients share a deep love for Palm Springs, and, throughout our conversations, I have consistently underscored their sincere commitment to diligently work to expand the economic base for Palm Springs as a part of any settlement,” Martin wrote in the letter.

The proposal outlines a potential agreement where the Survivors and Descendants would collaborate to support the economy of the city many of them continue to call home. The Survivors and Descendants would endeavor to raise $2.5M for the City over a five-year period, targeting tourism, celebrity events and large conferences hosted by organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League—groups that have already been vocal in their support of Section 14 advocacy and would be natural partners in such an effort.

“This is a historic and unprecedented settlement offer to address the racial harms of the past and set forth on a path of healing and prosperity, for both my clients and the City of Palm Springs,” said Martin. “The facts of this case are clear, and we encourage the city to accept our offer so that we can avoid costly litigation, which would likely result in much higher costs to the city. As I have said all along, my clients are committed to working with the city to execute this proposal in a manner that honors the harms they endured while ensuring that the City likewise benefits in the long-term.”

The Survivors’ formal proposal follows the group’s response, in May, to the City’s initial settlement offer. In that response, the Survivors outlined flaws in the City’s calculations and used the City’s proposed formula with a more accurate set of data points, resulting in total damages of $70 to $100 million dollars.

In the 1950s and 60s, the City of Palm Springs orchestrated the violent displacement of at least 1,000 residents from Section 14, an area predominantly inhabited by Black and Latino families. Hundreds of homes and other structures were burned or bulldozed, and families were forcibly removed without compensation, resulting in deep and lasting trauma for those affected. The Section 14 Survivors’ counteroffer aims to address these historical injustices through a fair and targeted settlement.

“We have fought for justice for over 60 years,” said Pearl Devers, Chairperson of the Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors. “Most of us are now in our twilight years, so it is crucial that we achieve true recognition and justice for what was taken from us as soon as possible. It’s time for us to move forward together in healing and set the right example for future generations.”

Already this year, legislation has been introduced in the California state legislature that aims to lift the statute of limitations for race-related takings and claims, demonstrating momentum to open pathways to litigate such claims when appropriate. As the Survivors’ counter proposal points out, this trend underscores that “the risks to the City of not accepting these settlement terms are immense.”

The $42 million figure presented by the Survivors includes cash payments to those who can demonstrate direct impacts from the displacement as well programmatic initiatives, such as establishing a Section 14 Day of Remembrance, constructing a Section 14 Racial Healing Center and elevating the city’s profile as a destination for Black and Brown tourism.

About Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors:

Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors is a non-profit group deeply rooted in the history and legacy of Palm Springs, composed of more than 1,000 survivors and descendants of Palm Springs Section 14.

Section 14, a one-square-mile area just east of downtown Palm Springs, was a vibrant community of predominantly African American and Latino residents. From the late 1950s through the 1960s, the City of Palm Springs, seeking commercial development, demolished this thriving community, destroying homes, personal property, and belongings without warning.

This destruction led to significant economic, physical, and emotional trauma for the residents of Section 14 and their descendants, who have not been able to recover the generational wealth that was taken from them. The survivors and descendants, with the support and counsel of leading civil rights attorney Areva Martin, continue to seek justice and restitution. Their mission transcends monetary compensation, it is a quest for acknowledgement of the past, communal healing, and the establishment of restorative measures that ensure such injustices are never repeated.

Learn more at Section14Survivors.com or KnowBeforeYouGoPalmSprings.com

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