- BBC News World
A beach in California has been handed back to its descendants by Los Angeles County authorities who snatched it from a black family nearly 100 years ago.
Bruce Beach was purchased by Villa and Charles Bruce in 1912 to create a recreational area for black communities while California was still racially segregated.
Located at The exclusive city of Manhattan BeachThe property was confiscated in 1924 by the Municipal Council.
However, this Tuesday, Los Angeles County officials voted in favor of returning the land to the family.
Villa and Charles Bruce bought two beaches on the beach in 1912 for $ 1,225. The current value is estimated at US $ 20 million.
Fortress for Afro-descendants
Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard, a historian and family spokesman, told the BBC last year that the couple had built a dining room, a ballroom and a bathroom on the land.
Bruce Beach became “the stronghold of African-Americans who flocked there for recreation from all over Southern California.”
Villa told a reporter at the time: “Whenever we tried to buy land for a beach resort, we were denied it, but this land belongs to me and I’m going to keep it.”
But soon, in 1914 or 1915, according to the Yellow Feather Shepherd, “The Gu Klux Klan (a white supremacist organization) and a white neighbor decided that the Bruce family did not want to be there.“.
The local police department put up signs restricting parking time to 10 minutes, and a neighbor put up signs saying “no trespassing” so people had to walk almost a kilometer in any direction to get to the sea, he explained.
But those actions did not deter visitors, so local authorities decided Expropriate land under a law Designed to allow the government to sell property for the construction of roads and other public buildings.
The excuse is that they are going to build a park and that the Bruce family was forced to sell it a decade later. According to Shepherd, “a park was not built until 1957, and the land was vacant until that year.”
Chief Duan Yellow Feather Shepherd, a member of the abducted family and of indigenous descent, led the effort to reclaim the beach.
For many years they held rallies and events to focus their cause.
This Tuesday, a motion was approved in Los Angeles County recognizing that it was “well documented” that it was “racially motivated to expel a successful black company and its customers.”
Property recovery is the result of an extensive campaign and difficult process. For many years, there was a plaque honoring Villa and Charles on the beach, and the state legislature had to pass legislation allowing it to return.
Henceforth, the city The land will be leased to the family for $ 413,000 a year, According to the lease, with a provision that allows you to buy it for $ 20 million and expenses in the future.
Anthony Bruce, the great-grandson of Villa and Charles, said: “It was a” bitter “moment.
“It ruined them financially. It ruined their chance to achieve the American dream. I want them to see what happened today,” he said.
The impact of the abduction is still felt today, Yellow Feather Shepherd told the BBC.
“We were expelled from that community … right now Only one there A In 1Afro-offspringS On Manhattan Beach“, He promised.
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