We have confirmed that on Friday the Crenshaw Mall was quietly sold to the corrupt, racist and failed developer David Schwartzman of Harridge Development Group. This is of course disappointing. At its root, the decision by the sellers of the mall (public pension funds and Deutsche Bank/DWS) to sell to Schwartzman instead of the Black community illustrates that systemic and generational racism in real estate remains alive and well over 70 years after the landmark Shelley v. Kraemer Supreme Court decision. While much has changed since the 1940s, anti-Black racist institutions and racist people remain in powerful positions to thwart the right of Black people to self-determination and control the spaces we occupy.
From the beginning, multiple white-led institutions and the system that supports them have viewed our community’s 40-acre mall as an opportunity for white outsiders to profit from the centuries-long exploitation of Black people and systemic displacement of Black businesses and residents. Downtown Crenshaw is a transformative project that seeks to reverse this trend, by putting the Black community in control of its land and destiny. For these white-led institutions, the concept of Black community control of Black community space is antithetical to their practices, which are rooted in America’s genocide of the Indigenous people, land theft, enslavement of Africans and bombing of Black Wall Streets.
The only reason corrupt and racist Schwartzman was able to buy our Black mall is because he was provided special treatment that Downtown Crenshaw was never afforded. White-led institutions and white people, led by Tim Ellsworth of Deutsche Bank/DWS and the bureaucrats at public pension funds who owned the mall (LACERA, UC Board of Regents, Texas Teachers, NYCERS, NYC Teachers, LA Fire and Police Pension), bent over backwards for the racist once-bankrupt developer, who is a cross between Donald Trump and Donald Sterling. They provided Schwartzman multiple extensions, reduced the sales price (furthering the gap between our higher bid and his) and allowed him to swap equity partners.
Ultimately, the sale of the Crenshaw Mall is far from final. It is going to be litigated in the courts and reviewed by oversight bodies. In addition to Downtown Crenshaw evaluating our many legal options, we are aware of at least four lawsuits that are currently being discussed by public pension fund members, civil rights organizations, and another qualified Black bidder that was passed over.
Downtown Crenshaw did everything that was asked of us despite repeated gamesmanship by the public pension funds and Deutsche Bank/DWS. We outbid Harridge and submitted a fully-financed offer of $115 million with more favorable terms. We secured the backing of mission-aligned financial partners, who want to see our community uplifted not uprooted. We engaged in a historic fundraising campaign where we raised $28 million in philanthropy in just two weeks. We assembled a world-class development team that included national experts in community-centered development, along with the developers who rebuilt the World Trade Center after 9/11. And most importantly, we worked collectively and transparently with the community to craft a community-centered vision for the mall and a mechanism by which stakeholders could buy shares in the mall. With over 2,300 members and the support of over 300 community groups we have built a movement that will continue to fight for community control of our Crenshaw Mall and will fight Schwartzman every step of the way until he is out of our community for good. Simultaneously, we will continue to advance the many other programs of our transformative effort to liberate the land and stabilize Black communities, known as the Liberty Ecosystem.
Racists rigged the rules to steal our community’s 40 acres to put it in the hands of a racist, but we will win them back by any means necessary. The war for Black community self-determination and liberation continues, and the community will win.
Crenshaw Community Protests at Homes of Corrupt Racist Gentrifiers Connected to Vladimir Putin & Donald Trump in NYC & LA
Downtown Crenshaw Rising has taken its actions national, engaging in simultaneous protests in New York and L.A. to stop the sale of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Crenshaw Mall) involving international conglomerates that are business associates of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.Read more
Civil Rights Leaders to Protest at Warner Music Group Addressing Len Blavatnik (‘Crony of Vladimir Putin’) Role in Attempt to Purchase Black L.A.’s Crenshaw Mall
Los Angeles ━ On Thursday, July 22 at 10:00 am PT representatives from civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Greater Southern California, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, Grandmamas of Downtown Crenshaw, and local business owners will hold a press conference to stop the attempt to sell L.A.’s Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to predatory developers being financed by a “crony of Vladimir Putin.”Read more
Commemorating the Tulsa Greenwood Massacre by Fighting for Crenshaw against Racist Gentrifier David Schwartzman
Today, May 31st, marks the 100 year commemoration of the two-day Tulsa riots by a racist white mob backed by the government in the city's Greenwood District, known as "Black Wall Street." Today's form of bombing Black Wall Streets is more subtle, but no less morally repugnant.
Gentrification/displacement/cultural erasure/urban cleansing is an intentional act by the state and private sector to price out and push out Black residents/merchants and destroy Black communities to create White wealth with bulldozers instead of bombs. It involves paid off politicians who deploy a variety of tactics, including trigger happy cops and special approvals. It involves banks implementing racist policies to deny Black communities the right to own their community spaces, and Black businesses and prospective homeowners financing.
One way to honor the memory of the many Black lives lost and the Black community lost is by standing up for Downtown Crenshaw RIGHT NOW!Read more
Our community driven movement has many allies who will not let the racism that surrounds the sale of the Crenshaw Mall stand. Our brothers and sisters at the NAACP recently informed Deutsche Bank/DWS of their intent to file a complaint with the Department of Treasury due to DWS’ "blatant discrimination against Black-led development teams during the sale of the Crenshaw Mall."
We are grateful for the solidarity shown by our brothers and sisters at the NAACP SFV branch, Black Lives Matters-Los Angeles chapter, Clergy for Black Lives, Congress of Racial Equality-California, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Southern California, and the Los Angeles South Chamber of Commerce. And we will fully provide whatever documentation the oversight agencies require to investigate the claim.Read more
Crenshaw District, Los Angeles, CA ━ Today, we remember the inspirational leader and activist Malcolm X, on what would be his 96th birthday. To honor his legacy, a broad coalition of local residents, activists, business leaders and property owners are urging the Los Angeles City Council to approve the addition of his name to the 5-mile stretch of Crenshaw Blvd south of the I-10 freeway. Co-naming Crenshaw Blvd with Malcolm X Blvd honors a profound Black leader, symbolizes the deep cultural significance of the area, and the importance of stabilizing the last major concentration of Black residents in the city of Los Angeles. Downtown Crenshaw is proud to stand with the Malcolm X Blvd Coalition in this incredible quest.Read more
Civil Rights Leaders Protest Deutsche Bank Thwarting Effort of Black Group Seeking to Buy Iconic Crenshaw Mall & Appeal to Rep. Maxine Waters
Press Conference: Civil Rights Leaders Protest Deutsche Bank Thwarting Effort of Black Group Seeking to Buy Iconic Crenshaw Mall & Appeal to Rep. Maxine Waters
Downtown Crenshaw Rising Makes Black History by Breaking All Fundraising Records to Support its Bid to Collectively Buy the Iconic Black Commercial Center, Yet Face Racism from Deutsche Bank’s DWS
Los Angeles, CA - Following months of building a massive coalition of hundreds of local/Black community organizations and waging multiple campaigns to defeat development partners of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, in the final two weeks of February, Downtown Crenshaw Rising (“DCR”) shattered all fundraising records by quietly raising over $28 million from philanthropists and an additional $6 million in letters of intent from impact investors to support their bid to buy the iconic Crenshaw Mall. The Black-led nonprofit community development corporation and activist group has also secured strong letters of interests for an additional $20-37 million from donors and values-aligned investors to support the DCR bid, and identified multiple large impact investment firms to cover any amount not raised through philanthropy.
Despite a massive community coalition, historic financial support from a who’s-who of philanthropists and socially responsible investors, and offering the highest bid, the sellers of the Crenshaw Mall (Deutsche Bank/DWS) are engaging in what civil rights leaders are calling overt racism to deny the Black collective the opportunity to buy its Crenshaw Mall.
A press conference is being called to demand Deutsche Bank/DWS sell the mall to the people of Crenshaw through Downtown Crenshaw Rising.
WHO: Black Civil Rights & Business Leaders including Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Greater Southern California, Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and invited Black celebrities and major philanthropists
WHEN: Wed, March 24, 10am call time; 10:30am press conference start time
WHERE: Across from the iconic Crenshaw Mall in the parking lot of Krispy Kreme, 4034 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008Read more
This is a huge breakthrough.
This week we received the following statement from SEIU 721 Vice President David Green (who is also on the influential LACERA Board of Investments).
I am urging you, as Vice President of SEIU Local 721, the largest public sector Union in Southern California, to support community groups which want to participate in the purchase of the Crenshaw Mall and I want encourage the owners of the Crenshaw Mall to pursue a purchase agreement which includes community participation and support.
I’ve worked as an LA County Employee for over 20 years and as Vice President of my union, SEIU Local 721, I want you to know that we believe racial justice and economic justice are inextricably linked — you’ll never achieve one without the other.
Sadly, COVID-19 has had a deeply disparate and damaging impact on the economies of communities of color. Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as a result of the pandemic. More than 40 percent of Black-owned businesses closed in the first quarter of 2020, versus 17 percent of businesses owned by whites. If LA is serious about racial justice, we need to start using major development opportunities and land use decisions to close the opportunity gap, not blast it wider.
In a sea of gentrification, Crenshaw Plaza is the anchor of one of LA’s last predominantly Black neighborhoods. It’s an unfinished monument to an as-yet unrealized dream of Black economic self-determination. Our Union wants to see a partnership and a plan for the property that ignites opportunity for the community around it. We think both the sellers and prospective purchasers will find that doing the right thing is good business — it's the approach that can empower the Crenshaw community and generate a reasonable rate of return.
Vice President SEIU Local 721
THANK YOU BROTHER!
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles (BLMLA) stands in strong support of the Black-led, community-driven approach to buy and control the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Mall through Downtown Crenshaw.
The collective approach to Black community ownership is grounded in the principles of cooperative economics, self-determination, and democracy, all principles deeply held by Black Lives Matter and fundamental to Black liberation. The Black community that has participated in Downtown Crenshaw’s organizing efforts for more than a year envisions the Crenshaw Mall as a safe and sustainable hub for Black cooperative economics, community-building, creativity, and freedom. BLMLA stands with Downtown Crenshaw in its steadfast efforts to protect historic Black Los Angeles from gentrifying forces that seek to capitalize off and profit from the Black community.
Downtown Crenshaw has submitted a viable bid for this community-driven effort to purchase the mall and utilize the property for the collective benefit of the Black community. Alongside Downtown Crenshaw, BLMLA calls on decision-makers to also take a stand and award the mall to this innovative, promising, and visionary effort and reject any offer that comes from gentrifying forces.
One of the communities greatest cultural expressions of Black creativity is the annual Pan-African Film Festival at the Crenshaw Mall. Founded by walking legends Ayuko Babu and Danny Glover, and the recently departed Janer DuBois it the world's most acclaimed Black film festivals. We are honored to have the support and to be working with Babu and the PAFF team.
Here is their letter:
Please allow this letter to serve as a commitment of our collective support for the Downtown Crenshaw plan. It has been far too long since the Crenshaw community has envisioned such a grand plan for sustainable growth. Collectively, the Pan African Film & Arts Festival is dedicated to providing any support necessary to ensure the success of Downtown Crenshaw...Read more