Descendants of a black couple who authorities took waterfront land from nearly a century ago in Manhattan Beach, California, are selling it to Los Angeles County for almost $20 million after the county gave the property back last year, The New York Times reported.
Willa and Charles Bruce started a resort on the land unofficially called “Bruce’s Beach” in 1912, but city leaders condemned the property about 12 years later, paying them $14,500 and leaving it undeveloped for more than 30 years despite originally claiming it was needed for a public park, according to the outlet. Los Angeles County gave the land to their great-grandsons Derrick and Marcus Bruce in July 2022 after widespread anti-racism and police brutality protests revived local interest in the issue.
The Bruces created the resort as a refuge from harassment for black tourists amid widespread discrimination, the NYT reported.
“This is what reparations look like and it is a model that I hope governments across the country will follow,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn tweeted Tuesday in announcing the Bruce family’s move to sell the land for the nearly $20 million appraised value.
Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe clan chief and family relative Duane Yellow Feather Shepard told the NYT that they “had no choice but to sell” the property, which is only zoned for public use. A spokeswoman for Hahn’s office said the family notified the county about the sale Friday, and the escrow process will probably be finished in 30 days.
“While I am disappointed the Bruces have chosen to sell the land, I understand their decision as the city of Manhattan Beach is anti-Black,” Where Is My Land and Justice for Bruce’s Beach founder Kavon Ward said, according to the NYT, claiming she did not think the Bruces would find peace in giving up the land. Manhattan Beach City Council voted 4-1 for a “statement of acknowledgment and condemnation” about the family’s case two years ago, but then-Mayor Suzanne Hadley argued that formally apologizing would raise the litigation risk against the city despite herself condemning racism against them.
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