Tiburcio Garcia in front of the Beverly Hills Sign (circa. 2023)
“What are you guys doing here?” She held her phone slightly away from her face, staring at us through her wrought iron fence, holding back Mochi, her giant white dog. She stared at us uncomprehendingly, seeing my mothers tattered jail suit and Uncle Leroy in his scooter with a drum tied to the back, turning him into a character from Mario Kart. It must have been a sight, and as she took in more and more, her eyes widened, and I chuckled. Her eyes slid over us and on Muteado, wearing his full danza traje, clad in leather and a massive copili bursting with feathers reminiscent of palm fronds.
“We’re asking that you consider giving your second or third vacation home to help house people on the street” my mother Tiny Gray-Garcia responded simply, handing her our list of demands:
We are demanding the extreme wealth hoarders and land occupiers in this town that led to the displacement and removal of so many poor and houseless people support the building of Homefulness in occupied Tongva with Tongva Nation and Houseless peoples guidance.
We invite all residents of this occupied territory to come to the next session of PeopleSkool.
We humbly ask that any resident of this wealth hoarding neighborhood who have more than one home redistribute their second or third home to people who have no homes.
We are demanding that this colonized city give at least one of the hundreds of abandoned surplus buildings to houseless people.
We demand that this city not only Defund the poLice but disband (and like us poor and houseless folks at Homefulness) NEVER Call the poLice.
Six years ago, Poor Magazine came to Beverly Hills for a Stolen Land/Hoarded Resources Tour. A year before that, we started these tours, with the intention of bringing the richest people in this country into the conversation of radical redistribution. We realized that the only way to reach these people in any way they would listen is by bringing the message to their doorsteps. Since then, we have been to Marin County, Park Ave., Google Headquarters, Piedmont, Downtown Denver, Leschi Territory (Washington State), and many other places.
I looked at this lady, so dumbfounded by the sight of poor people of color in her neighborhood, and wondered how we got this far. I saw her behind her cage that she built to protect herself from the real world, just the same as every house on the block. She silently accepted the flier, and we walked away to the sound of her dog barking furiously. A passerby would see us and wonder why a small group of poor black and brown folks in Beverly Hills were being followed by two police cars, a private security vehicle, and a drone, but that was just another day for us. That very process of scared rich white people calling reinforcements to surround us is how Luis Gongora Pat, Treyvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others were murdered, so while it is a bone-chilling thing to experience, it is no surprise.
Every person who’s 30 foot doors we knocked on and manicured lawns we walked through turned us down, a mixture of disgust and fear coloring their features. What we demanded was well within the abilities of every single person we talked to. The main reason for the tours is to show these people who constantly try to ignore us and commit what my mother calls “the violent act of looking away” that we exist, and that we are not afraid to meet them at their level.
We are the poor and homeless people that you try to silence by othering us, with our tattered jail suits and danza gear, with our loud drums and even louder voices. We will continue to go right to the heart of wealth hoarding in this country, and present them our demands.