Forever 21’s Latest Victim: The South Central Farm

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Just when we thought it was safe to indulge in the guilty pleasure of Forever 21 binge shopping–after finally getting over that Made in L.A. documentary which exposed the owner’s greediness–the sweatshop driver is at it again. And as if it couldn’t get worse than paying slave wages to a largely immigrant sewing crew, Forever 21, one of the city’s fastest-growing women’s apparel businesses, wants to operate a warehouse and distribution center on what once stood the South Central Farm.

Two years after it was bulldozed, the 14-acre community garden located on 41st and Alameda Streets in South Central LA and owned by real estate developer Ralph Horowitz, is being developed for a clothing chain with strong ties to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The mayor, who came into office claiming to be all about a greener city, supported the farm’s preservation two years ago, but is now staying out of the latest fight by community activists to review the environmental impacts of the proposed factory. Villaraigosa has received nearly $1.3 million in contributions and commitments from Forever 21 executives over the past two years for initiatives ranging from tree plantings to his own reelection campaign.

“The Mayor negotiated on behalf of the farmers with the developer of a Forever 21 distribution center,” declared Farm leader Tezozomoc. “He took money from a company that stood to gain the most if he lost that negotiation to promote his pet projects. The bad faith Villaraigosa demonstrated is suggests a ‘pay to play’ mentality in the City’s development racket.”

South Central Farmers are now requesting that the State Attorney General not only investigate Villaraigosa, but all the key players in the sale, including  City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, the Port Commissioners, and the members of the City Council, for entanglements with Forever 21 and collusion to throw the land transfer to Horowitz.

Citing a conflict of interest, South Central Farm activists are demanding California’s State Attorney General investigate the sale of the site of the South Central Farm by Los Angeles city officials to local developer Ralph Horowitz for a trucking center for women’s clothing manufacturer and retailer Forever 21.

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