PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of Black and Mexican families announced the filing of an amended claim Tuesday asserting that the city of Palm Springs caused up to $2 billion in harm to families who were forcibly evicted from the downtown Section 14 neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s.
Section 14 -- a one-square-mile neighborhood owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians -- was the primary residential area for people of color from 1930 to 1965. The evictions began in late 1954 and continued for 12 years through 1966.
Attorneys representing evicted families held a news conference in Los Angeles to announce the damages claim.
"My father worked hard and built our home and we had to leave it behind," said Delia Taylor, who is one of many people whose families in Palm Springs were forcefully removed from their homes.
She was in tears as she told her story of how she was traumatized as a child when her family home was destroyed.
"We were disrupted and uprooted from our homes. Happiness turned to bitterness."
Attorney Areva Martin, who represents the families, said the plan was not to provide them with housing relocation solutions or to provide them with financial assistance.
"The plan was to use fear," she said.
People said they did not get any notice before some of their homes were demolished and burned. Pearl Deavers was there at the time.
"We saw homes burning around us, you could smell the smoke, clueless as a kid," he said. "But when I look back and when I think about it, it just breaks my heart."
The families and their descendants are filing a lawsuit against Palm Springs.
"Our estimate of how we fix it is up to $4 billion, and don't tell me that Palm Springs can't afford it," said economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux.
The city of Palm Springs said over the past two years, it has been working to make right what happened.
"While this process may seem to be taking longer than some might like, the City has an obligation, not only to those who were displaced, but also to its residents, businesses and taxpayers, to thoroughly investigate the history as it develops remedial programs that are fair to everyone, said the city in a statement.
A new city council takes over in Palm Springs in the middle of December.
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.