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 90008

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Breaking News: SEIU 721 VP Statement

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.

In Unity,

David Green
Vice President SEIU Local 721



Black Lives Matter LA Statement of Support for Downtown Crenshaw

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.


Pan African Film Festival Statement of Support for Downtown Crenshaw

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...

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Black Contractors Support Downtown Crenshaw Bid for Crenshaw Mall

We are pleased to earn the support of the National Black Contractors' Association, Young Black Contractors Association and The Inner City Community Unilateral Apprentice Committee for this historic effort to buy, stabilize and redevelop the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza:

Here is their letter of support:

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 National Black Contractor’s Association, the Young Black Contractors Association and The Inner City Community Unilateral Apprentice Committee are dedicated to providing any support necessary to ensure the success of Downtown Crenshaw.

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Breaking: Downtown Crenshaw Bid Submitted to Buy the Crenshaw Mall

Backed by over $28.4 million in philanthropy (quietly raised in just 2 weeks) we submitted our bid to buy the Crenshaw Mall shattering all records and crafting a story that will be told for generations.

In just two weeks, we secured:

  • $28.4 million in donations from over 120 philanthropists (to create permanent Crenshaw community ownership/equity in the mall and community support programs/investments!)
  • An additional $6 million in pledges from non-extractive/community-friendly/socially responsible investors from across the country
  • Another $19-37 million in strong letters of interest from philanthropists and socially responsible investors currently undergoing their due diligence to determine how much they will contribute/invest.
  • And a large mission-aligned and values-aligned investment firm financially backing our bid.

The decision could come at any moment. MUST SEND A MESSAGE TO THE SELLERS NOW:

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Black Community Thwarts Second Attempt by Trump-Kushner Connected Developer to Buy Mall

DFH Partners Agreement to Purchase the Mall was terminated on December 11th after falling to Black Community Pressure

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Community Thwarts LivWrk-DFH Partners Attempt to Buy the Crenshaw Mall


We have confirmed that the agreement for LivWrk to purchase our beloved Crenshaw Mall was terminated as of Friday, December 11th. The following is the official statement from Downtown Crenshaw Rising:

Niki Okuk, Downtown Crenshaw Board Chair: "This is a tremendous Black community victory and testament to the power of the people. Downtown Crenshaw stood up and defeated LivWrk-DFH Partners, an unqualified out-of-town Trump-Kushner development partner, who sought to do harm to our beloved Crenshaw. On behalf of all of the leaders of this movement, we extend a heartfelt thank you to the nearly 13,000 people who signed our petition and sent in letters, hundreds of community organizations and civic leaders who stood united, and the many activists who took to the streets, from the powerful Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles crew to the Grandmamas of Downtown Crenshaw. We have shown that when we come together to defend our community, not even the powerful business partners and close friends of the president's family can defeat us."

Damien Goodmon, Downtown Crenshaw Board Member: "The Downtown Crenshaw Rising development team of global award-winning firms backed by the best of investors looks forward to sitting down with the public pension funds to identify a win-win. Our offer remains 5% over the next most credible offer."


Downtown Crenshaw in the New York Times


Our movement has made it all the way to the pages of the New York Times in an incredible article written by the talented Erin Aubry Kaplan titled: "Black Empowerment Outside the Headlines." Here is our favorite part from Erin's piece:

"Black people aspiring to normal or status quo feels out of the question. The ideal Black living space is no longer defined by the presence or absence of big companies and brand-name chains, if it ever was. The new livable space is one forged by self-determination and self-preservation in which the community has a real say and a stake — not merely an advisory role — in what gets built, and for whom. The ideal is major economic development that is also Black empowerment, two things that have been at odds in the real world for a long time.

"Mr. [Damien] Goodmon says he is betting that the momentum around antiracism — and more important, around pro-blackness — will help Downtown Crenshaw Rising prevail, and to establish in Crenshaw a new normal of agency and prosperity. That’s exactly what Black people here have wanted for the last 30 years. We just didn’t know what it looked like."

Read the whole article.


Electeds & Candidates Stand with the Community

With over 13,250 signatures signed, including over 300 community organizations, business, civil rights, neighborhood council, block club and homeowners association leaders, over 1,000 members signed up in less than 2 months, and with a capable and competent development team and financial partners by our side, some of our elected officials and candidates for office are speaking out for community-ownership of our Crenshaw Mall and against this blatant attempt by the Trump-Kushner-CIM trio to steal it from our community through LivWrk. In the past few days several our elected officials and candidates for office have spoken out in support of our incredible effort.

State Senator Holly Mitchell, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA City Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson, Jr., LA City Councilmember Robert Farrell (Ret.), Culver City Councilmember Daniel Lee, LA City Council District 10 Candidate Grace Yoo, and LA Community College District 1 Candidate Tori Bailey have add their voices to the chorus. If we stand united, we can claim our #40AcresAndAMall

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