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Deutsche Bank Uses Influence to Prevent Black Ownership in Los Angeles

Black Group Seeking to Buy Iconic Crenshaw Mall to Establish Community Control of Black Space Being Thwarted by Deutsche Bank Racism.

Following months of building a massive coalition of hundreds of local/Black community organizations and waging multiple campaigns to defeat development partners of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, in the final two weeks of February, Downtown Crenshaw Rising (“DCR”) shattered all fundraising records by quietly raising over $28 million from philanthropists and an additional $6 million in letters of intent from impact investors to support their bid to buy the iconic Crenshaw Mall. The Black-led nonprofit community development corporation and activist group also has letters of interests for an additional $20-37 million from donors and values-aligned investors and identified multiple large impact investment firms to cover any amount not raised through philanthropy.

“Through Downtown Crenshaw we are showing that it is possible for Black people to collectively control Black spaces, beat outside gentrifiers and create a new just model of redevelopment that uplifts communities like Crenshaw without uprooting long-time residents and merchants,” said Damien Goodmon, Board Member of DCR and a descendant of L.A.’s historic Blodgett family.

Despite community support, financial support from a who’s-who of philanthropists and socially responsible investors, and offering the highest bid, the sellers of the Crenshaw Mall (Deutsche Bank/DWS) are engaging in what is being called overt racism to deny the Black collective the opportunity to buy its Crenshaw Mall.

“We offered a higher bid and more generous terms than anyone,”
said DCR Board Chair Niki Okuk.
“Yet Deutsche Bank’s Tim Ellsworth won’t even respond to Black people.”

DCR’s financial backers include local Black celebrities, and some of the biggest names in philanthropy (Kataly Foundation, Regan Pritzker and Pritzker family members, members of the Disney family, Resource Generation LA, and Kat Taylor) and over 150 donors, foundations and investors who support building a reparative democratic economy in Crenshaw that lifts up the Black community. Multiple national organizations including the American Sustainable Business Council/Social Venture Capital, labor unions including AFSCME 3299 and SEIU 721, Black investment entities including Kuumba Collective of the Capital Region, and social impact investment firms including Natural Investments, Chordata Capital, RSF Social Finance, and Candide Group, and local Black politicians have expressed support for Downtown Crenshaw.

The Crenshaw Mall is currently owned by a private equity firm invested in by over a half-dozen public pension funds, including Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association, UC Board of Regents, Texas Teachers, New York City Teachers, and the New York City Employees Retirement System. The pension funds required the firm contract infamous Deutsche Bank/DWS to sell the iconic Crenshaw Mall.

“We will not allow the overt institutional racism by Deutsche Bank/DWS to continue on our Crenshaw Mall or anywhere,” said Rev. William Smart Jr, of the SCLC-Greater Southern California. A letter sent today by Black civil rights and business organizations calls on the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, to act immediately to work with the leaders to “remove the racially restrictive covenant that Deutsche Bank/DWS has placed on the Crenshaw Mall.” They are also calling on the public pension funds to terminate Deutsche Bank/DWS’ contract as well as all other Deutsche Bank contracts given their pattern of anti-Black racism.

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