Attorney says damages from Section 14 could be ‘large or super large,’ compares claim to those sought by California wildfire victims
Audience members listen to a presentation on the events at Section 14 during a March event at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Attorney says damages from Section 14 could be ‘large or super large,’ compares claim to those sought by California wildfire victims

Monrow Mabon would not confirm the existence of a letter rumored to have been sent to the city outlining specific demands. But The Desert Sun reported the letter was delivered to City Hall last week.

Kendall Balchan and Mark Talkington image

Kendall Balchan and Mark Talkington

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August 2, 2022

An attorney for the Section 14 Survivors Group said Tuesday it’s too early to place a dollar amount on possible damages suffered by members of the group, but a letter reportedly sent to the city tells a different story.

Driving the news: Monrow Mabon, who represents the group, told The Post that his staff is “still researching” exactly what damages his group will ask for and who might qualify for compensation. At issue is the city’s role in the forced removal of Black and brown residents from a prime section of tribal-owned land in the city during the 1950s and 1960s.

  • “(T)he number of survivors and descendants has yet to be calculated,” Mabon said Tuesday morning by phone. “I have clerical staff and CPAs who are going through looking at those individuals and categorizing them as descendants and or survivors.”

But wait: During the morning call with The Post, Mabon would not confirm the existence of a letter rumored to have been sent to the city outlining specific demands. But The Desert Sun reported the letter was delivered to City Hall last week.

Details: In a story published Tuesday afternoon, reporter Paul Albani-Burgio wrote that the group is asking for “nine forms of compensation” including:

  • $100 million for people who can prove they lived on Section 14 between 1959 and 1967 and $5 million in scholarship money for descendants.

  • Down payment assistance for homes that would be built on city-owned land.

  • The declaration of a Section 14 Remembrance Day as well as “statues, plaques or other items within the boundaries of Section 14” that would “memorialize the horror and degradation that was forced on residents of Section 14.”

Between the lines: Initial requests for compensation are often a negotiating tactic and settlement amounts are much smaller. Still, Mabon said, he has instructed his staff to explore a significant amount of monetary damages.

  • “They [the CPAs] are looking at other incidents where there have been large or super large claims,” he said. “For example, some of the fire damages here in California where large amounts of homes were lost. … (T)he calculation of damages is complicated, but I don’t believe it’s impossible to come up with a reasonable number and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Next up: City staff was instructed earlier this year to explore what reparations for Section 14 survivors and descendants might look like. That was before a legal claim was filed by Mabon in the spring. The City Council deals with such matters in closed session, but could discuss the matter in an open forum, given its willingness to provide compensation.

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