Statement: Leading Civil Rights Attorney, Areva Martin, Applauds Establishment of New York Commission to Consider Slavery Reparations

December 23, 2023

Historic legislation builds on nationwide momentum to redress historical injustices, with recent examples including Bruce’s Beach in Southern California and Evanston, Illinois

Martin reiterates calls for long overdue justice for Survivors of Section 14 in Palm Springs, whose homes were wrongfully burned down and destroyed by the city in the 1960s

Los Angeles, CA (December 21, 2023) – Areva Martin, Esq., national civil rights attorney and lead counsel for Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors, issued the following statement today in response to New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s signing of legislation to establish a commission to consider reparations for slavery:

“I applaud Governor Hochul and the New York legislature for enacting this important bill. Whether it’s housing discrimination, wrongful eviction, the intentional destruction of property, or other racially motivated harms, Black Americans continue to feel the intergenerational impacts of slavery and of the historic injustices that have occurred since then. It is due time for compensation and redress. On the heels of the return of Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family in Manhattan Beach, California and the reparations program in Evanston, Illinois, we are beginning to see progress beyond simple recognition and toward real and long overdue action.

As we welcome this latest development in New York, we continue the march to achieve justice and restitution for the Survivors of Section 14 in Palm Springs, California, whose homes and livelihoods were burned to the ground by the City of Palm Springs in the 1960s to make way for luxury tourism. In 1968, the California Attorney General’s office called these actions a ‘city-engineered holocaust’, and in 2021, the City of Palm Springs issued a formal apology for their destruction of this Black and Latino community.

There has been no restitution for the Survivors of Section 14. As the Survivors of Section 14 continue pushing for restorative justice, they are shedding daylight on this dark chapter of the city’s past, with activations and billboards in the Coachella Valley. Not only should they receive recognition and compensation for the losses they endured, but we should ensure that injustices like what they experienced never happen again.

As two of the most progressive and racially diverse states in the country, New York and California must continue to be outspoken leaders as it relates to restitution for past injustices, and this extends to cities like Palm Springs, which has an opportunity to lead the way as the next chapter of our country’s history is written.”

About Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors:

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 Section 14 community, which had more than 5,000 residents at its peak. 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.

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