By Zein Amari
On Sunday June 30, in a neighborhood of Inglewood, activists and supporters from Serve The People – Los Angeles (STPLA), Defend Boyle Heights (DBH), and tenants from the 28th Street Barrio gathered in front of the house of Curbin D. Pitts, the property manager of 845 and 812 E. 28th St. Griffith Apartments.
Activists from STPLA explained that Pitts was protested for not taking tenants’ issues seriously and due to his condescending and anti-people attitude when dealing with tenants. Activists mentioned that Pitts would serve as an example of what would follow if his boss, landlord Charles Quarles, refuses to cooperate. Quarles is a multi-millionaire who has his relative, Pitts, act as the puppet that relays messages to the Barrio Committee.
As the protesters approached Pitt’s house, a protester blasted “For The Love of Money” by The O’Jays. Chants of “Money Hungry,” “Don’t Be A Bastard, Call Your Puppet Master,” and “Meet the Demands” ensued. As more protesters came to join the group in front of Pitt’s house, neighbors began to come out of their homes. Activists utilized the disruption that drew people out to speak with neighbors; however, the next door neighbor told protesters that they had the wrong house.
To resolve the confusion, one activist knocked on the door, and was met with Pitts through the slightly cracked door, “Get the fuck out of my house,” he said as he quickly shut the door. Whether the neighbor was just confused or purposely deceitful remains unknown.
After Pitts revealed that this was, in fact, his house, an older man and a younger woman came out and told protesters to leave, while protesters demanded they bring Pitts out. The two retreated back into the house as the crowd yelled “Cowards!” The older man, before going inside, said that the police had been called, however protesters remained steadfast.
Within ten minutes, six police cars pulled up in the aid of Pitts. A few officers tried to speak to protesters, attempting to get information about who led the protest, but the police were met with silence. All requests for information were rebuffed, and the police were only able to stand on the sideline.
More neighbors came out of their homes and even community members having a family get together down the street came to see.
Tenants from the 28th Street Barrio Committee shared their experiences with Pitts, one woman spoke about how Pitts does not follow agreed-upon times for repairs, explaining one incident where he walked in on the woman’s daughter getting dressed. When the daughter yelled at him, Pitts responded,“Shut up you don’t live here.”
Following more speeches from tenants, a new chant of “Quit your job” was directed toward Pitts with renewed enthusiasm. An activist came up and read the demands from the 28th Street Barrio Committee: a limit of three percent to rent increases for a minimum of 5 years, repairing the tenants’ apartments, waiving the rent hike for the Barrio Committee, and assigning a new manager for the apartments.
As the protest came to a close, a tenant led the chant, “What do we have? Nothing! What do we want? Everything!” A copy of a letter for Charles Quarles with the demands was put onto Pitts’ car, and the protesters left the area chanting “We’ll be back and we’ll be bigger!” The need for working class tenants to mobilize and unite under a revolutionary line is being grasped by the 28th Street Barrio Committee as they remain steadfast in their struggle against the landlord Quarles.