5,000 signatures reached
To: Mayor Suzanne Hadley and the Manhattan Beach City Council
Justice for the Bruce Family
In response to their recent acknowledgement that the city of Manhattan Beach unjustly forced the Bruce family off their land and out of their business under the threat of racist violence during the Jim Crow era, we demand that Mayor Hadley and the Manhattan Beach City Council:
Provide Restoration and Restitution to the Bruce family for forcing them off their land:
-Restore the land to the Bruce family
-Provide restitution for loss of revenue for the past 96 years.
-Pay monetary damages for the violation of Charles and Willa Bruce’s civil rights.
Provide Reparations for the Black and Indigenous residents of Manhattan Beach:
-We demand the city pay reparations to Black and Indigenous residents of Manhattan Beach by partnering with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Los Angeles County and other coastal cities to provide affordable homeownership opportunities for Black and Indigenous families who wish to live in the community. Specifically, Black and Indigenous individuals and families who are low to moderate income should be eligible for downpayment and closing cost assistance funding to facilitate affordable homeownership opportunities.
Tell the Truth:
-Revise the text on the Plaque at Bruce’s Beach.
-Create educational programs within the community and in schools that tell the truth about Manhattan Beach’s racist past and the KKK’s involvement in forcing the Bruces and other Black people out of Manhattan Beach.
Why is this important?
On Tuesday, April 6th, the Manhattan Beach City Council voted against issuing a public apology to the Bruce Family for the unjust taking of their land in 1924 due to them being Black and bringing together Black patrons in Manhattan Beach.
During a March 16th city council meeting, Mayor Suzanne Hadley said in response to the apology, “We do not want to ignore the past but we do not want it embroidered in a scarlet ‘R’ upon our chest,” later saying “I hear all of you who want an apology... I’m not litigious, I have not contributed to decades of case law around a single word. My hands are clean. But that word is a club that we can be handing to people to beat us with.”
The majority of public comments and letters sent in during the council meeting showed support for a public apology. Still, the city council voted in favor of not apologizing, passing 4-1. Despite all of the voices who showed up to support the apology, despite the importance of an apology for reparative measures and true acknowledgment of harm done, the city of Manhattan Beach and its council members decided to recommit to racism and anti-Blackness with their own votes.
When something as simple as an apology cannot be given, we have to ask ourselves “why?” And “who does this benefit?” We know that communities protect one another by voting in favor of repairing relationships and histories, yet Manhattan Beach refuses to condemn racism, to apologize for its racist past, or to acknowledge the ways in which racism and white supremacy continue to show up in Manhattan Beach today. Black joy, Black pain, Black experiences deserve a place in this community who has now, for almost 100 years, made intentional efforts to silence and erase us. We will stay put until the work is done. Until there is restitution for years of civil and human rights violations against the Bruce family, and restoration and return of their land.
Manhattan Beach owes the Bruce family much more than an apology. Once the owners of one of the few thriving beach resorts that Black Angelenos were allowed to patronize in the early 1900s, Willa and Charles Bruce were not only subjected to escalating racist attacks from the city’s local Klu Klux Klan, but were eventually forced off their land by Manhattan Beach’s own Board of Trustees. Although the Board of Trustees claimed at the time that they needed the land to build a park, we know the real reason the Bruces lost their land. From Tulsa to Forsyth County, Black people’s attempts to build economic security for themselves in this country have been haunted by white terrorist violence. The land that the Bruces were forced off is no different, and represents just a tiny fraction of the nearly 11 million acres of land that Black people once had, but lost, due to fraud, deception and outright violence during the Jim Crow era. Now, after a recent acknowledgment from the Manhattan Beach City Council of the injustice the Bruce family has faced at the hands of the city for generations, some residents are proposing that a boutique hotel be constructed on the land as a form of restitution. That’s not right. That’s why Justice for Bruce's Beach is partnering with Black Lives Matter to let Manhattan Beach City Council know that if they want to rectify the harms of the past, they must meet the full demands of Manhattan Beach’s Black residents for restoration, restitution and reparations today.
The Bruces’ land and business should have been the foundation of their family’s ability to build wealth, and to take care of themselves and each other. Instead, it became a source of riches for others. Not only did the city of Manhattan Beach take the Bruces’ land in order to preserve the neighborhood’s whiteness, but they vastly underpaid them and other Black property owners like them for the value of the land and the businesses that were taken from them. Today, with Manhattan Beach’s inflated and unaffordable housing, Black people make up just about 0.8% of the city’s population. That’s why the proposals for the construction of a boutique hotel that will likely remain out of the reach of most of its Black residents as a form of restitution for the city’s history of violence is a slap in the face. The fact is, Manhattan Beach won't be able to make amends for its racist past without restoring the land back to the Bruces, paying the Bruces restitution and paying reparations to its Black residents for blatantly discriminating against our community and making it impossible for us to own land in the area. Now more than ever, institutions like the Manhattan Beach City Council need to make good on their commitment to Black communities, and we’re starting by demanding that they meet our residents’ full demands for restoration restitution and reparations today.
As protests against police violence continue, more and more institutions are coming out with statements to denounce racism. Many of those institutions are the exact same ones who have orchestrated the erosion of Black wealth and property for decades, if not centuries. Sign now to let Manhattan Beach City Council that fighting for racial justice is so much more than an anti-racism statement. It requires dedication and action behind those words. Declaring support of Black people isn’t enough and task forces and modified street signs won’t pacify us. If the city council truly believes Black lives matter, it must meet the full demands of its Black and Indigenous constituents for restoration, restitution and reparations in Manhattan Beach immediately.
Founder, Justice for Bruce's Beach
Chief Duane ‘Yellow Feather’
Spokesman and Historian for The Bruce Family
Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter
MBUSD Community Panel for Equity (MB4E)