Los Angeles: Tenants, Activists Halt Illegal Eviction of Mariachi

By Felipe Vera

This Monday, Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) led an action with the support of members from the Los Angeles Tenants Union to defend a mariachi, Naty, from an attempted eviction at the motel where he and his family live in the working class community of South Gate.

The previous week, Naty was served a three-day notice to pay or vacate by his slumlord of Southland Motel, Sam Patidar. He issued the notice despite the ongoing economic and health crises and the eviction moratorium in Los Angeles, which would have made it an illegal eviction. On top of this, the conditions of the apartment are poor, with mold, faulty electricity, and a dilapidated walkway.

On the day of the action, activists began to put up signs with tape across the fence outside of the motel facing the street. Patidar eventually called the police after activists refused to take them down.

After a few minutes of agitation on the street, the tenants and activists walked up to Patidar’s office, giving speeches on a megaphone demanding he come out and declaring that they would support Naty if there were any attempts to kick him out.

As a Spanish news channel from channel 62, Estrella TV, was present and interviewing Naty, activists asked Patidar if he would evict him and he responded that there would be no problems. An activist pressured Patidar to say it on camera, and he eventually relented, interrupting the interview to say that Naty would not be kicked out.

After Patidar left the cameras and went back inside his office, the demonstrators approached the office demanding he come out and sign a statement vowing not to evict Naty, which he ultimately did.

Patidar conceded quickly to the demands, shrinking in the face of organized resistance. Other landlords may not give in so easily, but this case demonstrates the worth daring to struggle against landlords because it is possible to win and prevent evictions with organization.