[REBLOG from The Flama]
A party supply store, Piñata Jumpolin, in the eastside of Austin, was reduced to rubble, unbeknownst to store owners, Monica and Sergio Lejarazu, by building landlords for a party to take place during SXSW. The store, which was in the location for 8 years, was just featured in a hilarious skit on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
This upsetting news also points to the fact that Austin is the most economically segregated city in the country, according to Austin Culture Map.
Its obviously getting worse, considering callous disregard for the store owners, and the illegal bulldozing that was done without due process of law, or common compassion.
It was the morning of February 12, as he was driving his daughter to school, that Sergio Lejarazu discovered that the store that he co-owned with his wife for eight years, selling custom, hand-made moonwalks, piñatas imported from Mexico, and more, was demolished, allegedly without warning, with their inventory still inside. Sergio describes to Austin Culture Map:“That’s when I saw it: my life’s work under the bulldozer.”
The couple, who has a lease until 2017, soon filed a lawsuit for the bulldozing against their landlords, Jordan French and Darius Fisher, operating as F&F Real Estate Ventures. Oddly enough, French and Fisher also run Status Labs, an image consulting firm. As their Twitter bio reads, “Our mission is simple: To improve your online and offline image.” They clearly need to hire someone other than their company for their cruel actions.
Protests calling for Justice for Jumpolin ensued, the planned SXSW party was cancelled, and a Facebook page called Justice For Jumpolin Community Action surfaced.
Now this is where the story gets racist, and downright disrespectful:
Property owners of the Jumpolin site since only October 2014, French and Fisher claim that they gave the Lejarazu family plenty of notice.
They allege that since October 2014, they’ve sent at least three notices via email and certified mail to the Lejarazu family, regarding defects, lease violations, and past due rent.
“They had paid their rent in full; the ‘default’ was cured even though they were not in default,” Lajarazu’s attorney Doran Peters tells Austin Culture Map.
“The bottom line is, [the owners] have plans to build on that piece of property, and my clients’ contractual right to have possession of the premises just was getting in the way of that,” says Peters.
And now for the kicker:
In an interview with Austin Culture Map, co-landlord Jordan French defends the demolitionsuggesting that the Lajarazu family don’t make enough money selling piñatas, mentioning Sergio Lajarazu stolen bicycle arrest and speculating that the family was involved with selling “uncontrolled substances.”
“That’s just my opinion, though,” French continues. “Say you have a house that was infested by roaches, you have to clean that up.” As an image consultant, French must be aware of what a derogatory term “roaches” is for Mexicans.
Unfortunately, the Austin Police Department will not be charging the property owners as the company has city permits to demolish the building.
The only choice is for the Lejarazu family to fight in civil court, which they are currently pursuing.
In the meantime, a Travis County judge issued an injunction on March 3, halting any construction on the Jumpolin property at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez until the case is heard.
And on March 12, Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, whose district includes the bulldozed Jumpolin location, filed a bill that would make it illegal to flatten property without briefing tenants.
If this story pisses you off, there are things you can do.
- Support Monica and Sergio Lejarazu by donating to them as they no longer have a business. Go to this gofundme page.
- Ask the city of Austin to boycott “all F&F Real Estate Ventures, Darius Fisher, Jordan French and all related businesses for their blatantly racist violent actions and speech.” Read the entire statement from organizations such as NAACP and PODER here. Tweet your thoughts to Austin at@austintexasgov.
Special thanks to Christopher Ledesma for creating the cartoon we used as the main image and forLatina, for letting us know about this story.
Below: Owner Sergio Lejarazu leaning in to give Jimmy Kimmel a hug as Guillermo Rodriguez looks on.