Shantytown resident goes on trial
John Cata was arrested while trying to retrieve his possessions after a fire ripped through his shantytown home.
A Umoja Village resident arrested for attempting to retrieve his belongings from the ashes of the fire which destroyed Miami's shantytown goes on trial Monday.
John Cata was one of 11 people arrested in the aftermath of the fire that devastated Umoja Village on April 26, 2007, just three days after the village's six-month anniversary. He was charged with disorderly conduct and also with resisting arrest without violence. Cata subsequently fainted and was taken to the VA hospital instead of jail.
In 1968, a 25-year-old John Cata led the team negotiating a contract for 1,000 newly unionized Jackson Memorial Hospital workers. After winning higher wages for Jackson workers, Cata was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he served two tours of duty. In 2006, he returned to South Florida and, due to the lack of viable options afforded by his pension, lived in a vacant lot for months prior to discovering the Umoja Village.
Umoja Village was created on October 23, 2006, in response to the crisis of gentrification and housing in Miami-Dade County. The shantytown housed as many as 50 otherwise homeless people at a time.
The trials of village organizers Max Rameau and Amanda Seaton are set for later in August. Other arrestees have settled their cases.
For more information about Umoja Village, check out the Take Back the Land blog.
Update: Apparently the trial was continued.