Since 1989, the Peace Center, created and funded through the generosity of Aris Anagnos, has provided rent-free offices and meeting spaces to diverse peace and justice groups throughout Los Angeles, enabling them to focus on the work they do best: educating and organizing for justice. The Peace Center’s continued existence is now being threatened. The building is for sale, and all the tenants have been told to leave.
To ensure that the Peace Center would permanently house its social justice tenants rent-free, Aris established the Aris and Carolyn Anagnos Peace Center Foundation. Prior to his death, the Peace Center Foundation Board voted to grant the social justice tenants at the Peace Center rent-free office space in perpetuity. Soon, after Aris died in 2018, his son Demos Anagnos, began to undermine his father’s legacy and take actions that his father would never have approved. Not only is he trying to sell the Peace Center, he has also filed to dissolve the Foundation.
The groups housed in the Peace Center include: the Center for the Study of Political Graphics; the National Lawyers Guild; Peace Action; California Clean Money; Common Peace; Americans for Democratic Action; the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador; and the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala. The Peace Center’s impact extends much further. Countless progressive groups use the meeting rooms—for free—to organize, train, educate, fundraise, and celebrate. These include the Democratic Socialists of America, the Pacifica Foundation, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Health Care for All, and the American Civil Liberties Union. All that could be gone! Many of these organizations depend on the rent-free space at the Peace Center and, if taken away, may no longer be able to continue their peace and justice efforts. At a time like now, when social justice is at the forefront of the news and politics, these organizations are a critically important and vital part of the debate and cannot be lost.
A lawsuit to stop the sale of the Peace Center and challenge the dissolution of the foundation has been filed by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. CSPG is represented by Jason H. Tokoro and Emily Sanchirico with the law firm Miller Barondess. While CSPG is but one of the beneficiaries of Aris’ generosity, the success of this lawsuit will protect all the peace and justice organizations housed in and using the Peace Center.
At a time when civic engagement is increasingly important, it would be catastrophic to all their work, and to Aris’ vision, to destroy the Peace Center. In the midst of a pandemic that has the greatest impact on the poor and people of color, the Peace Center is needed more than ever.
We are outraged at the attempt by Demos to subvert Aris’ legacy and lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and justice. Help us win this fight by adding your name to the attached letter which we will release to the press. Thank you for joining us in a show of support for these efforts.
ad hoc Committee to Save the Peace Center:
(affiliations listed for identification only)
Carol A. Wells, Founder and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG)
Jim Lafferty, Emeritus Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild
Theresa Bonpane, Co-Founder and Emeritus Executive Director, Office of the Americas
Susan Adelman, President, Lucy & Isadore B. Adelman Foundation
Sherry Frumkin, Death Penalty Focus Board of Directors
Ted Hajjar, CSPG Board of Directors
Scott Johnson, CSPG Board of Directors
Shari Leinwand, Chair Emeritus ACLU Foundation SoCal
Roger Lowenstein, CSPG Board of Directors
Sonia M. Mercado, Civil Rights Lawyer
R. Samuel Paz, Civil Rights Lawyer
Bob Schwartz, Center for Cuban Studies Board of Directors
Danny Widener, President, CSPG Board of Directors
The undersigned oppose the sale of the Los Angeles Peace Center. Everyone signing will receive updates on our fight to preserve this priceless resource. No contact information will be sold or traded.