By Felipe Vera
This past week the United Neighborhood Defense Movement (UNDM) in Los Angeles organized two actions defending tenants against eviction attempts and landlord harassment.
On Tuesday, UNDM supported the Morales family in South Central after they reached out for support against their arrogant and racist property manager Sam Simany. The Morales family has been living in their home since April, but only days after moving in Simany began incessantly harrassing them, yelling at their children, calling the family racist slurs such as “illegals,” and shutting off their utilities.
Within the past week, Simany posted a fraudulent 3-day eviction notice on the family’s door. The ‘notice’ itself was filled with lies and inconsistencies, such as the family housing unapproved occupants, among other false claims.
UNDM supported the Morales family in delivering a letter directly to Simany responding to the allegations of violating their lease.
Simany refused to accept the letter and instead called the police. His wife came out of his nearby home and accosted the Morales family and activists. Things remained heated with face-to-face confrontations and verbal sparring, until LAPD arrived and Simany retreated behind their protection.
UNDM supporters and members spoke to neighbors, and many were supportive of the Morales family and UNDM fighting back against Simany, who is popularly hated on his own block.
The following morning, UNDM organized a protest against Sam Patidar, the landlord of the Southland Motel, who has been harassing and threatening to evict two struggling families residing there. Patidar has been confronted in the past for his attempts to evict a Mariachi musician and his family.
UNDM mobilized a sizeable crowd of tenants, activists and community members to rally in front of the motel. Activists and tenants demanded a new contract from Patidar, which he conceded to within a matter of seconds after being confronted, with cameras from local Spanish-language news stations looking on.
Patidar signed a paper agreeing to not harass tenants or collect back rent. The two families will be on rent strike until they receive full wages or work, with three units from Southland Motel now on rent strike.
UNDM spoke to tenants from other local motels and onlookers, agitating down the block with tenants chanting “Cuando sacan a uno, luchan todos” (When they kick somebody out, everyone fights) “Si no hay pago, no hay renta, si no hay dinero, no hay renta” (No rent without work or wages).
More and more landlords will try to evict struggling tenants, especially as the eviction moratorium nears its final days in Los Angeles. The landlords may have the police and the state on their side but the working class tenants have organization, community solidarity, and a willingness to fight for their homes.