Ten years ago, KIPP SoCal Public Schools, one of the largest and most successful charter school networks in California, began the journey to realize this vision. The Palms Motel, a destination of ill repute on South Figueroa, was unfortunately located in between two of the charter networks’ notable South Los Angeles schools, KIPP Empower Academy and KIPP Academy of Opportunity. Year after year, thousands of students had been exposed to drug paraphernalia thrown over school fences, sex trafficked women mixed in with morning school bells, motel voyeurs filming their playtime, gang activity, police patrol, gunshots, caution tape, and lockdowns. Enough was enough.
KIPP rallied their families, their students, their school leaders and teams, their local Councilmember Marquecee Harris-Dawson, the Los Angeles City Council, the City Attorney’s office, the local LAPD precinct, and community partners’ Restoration Diversion Services, United We Stand, Community Build, Cool Ass Black Women, CRDC LA, and the Human Trafficking Division of Volunteers of America. They organized for months. They protested at City Hall. They got the media’s attention. And they used their collective action at the local level to effect change. The Palms Motel was declared a nuisance property, and the intransigent owners finally agreed to sell the motel to KIPP and shut it down.
This November, KIPP SoCal will begin the next and final leg of this restorative journey as they now envision how they reimagine this space on South Figueroa as a place of peace, safety, and enrichment for the children and community of South LA.