The word of a Skid Row TB “outbreak” traveled quickly. Local, National and International media outlets picked up the story and ran with it–most forgot to check the facts. Concerned family members and supporters called and emailed LA CAN members to make sure they were okay and taking all of the necessary precautions. The story created an environment of fear and panic and those elected and paid to assuage those fears were nowhere to be found.
Much has been made in the media this week about the so-called “outbreak” of Tuberculosis in Skid Row. Despite many rumors and mis-information spread by countless news outlets, the Los Angeles County Department of Health is telling everyone not to panic (Click HERE for an Info Sheet the Department just released). Excerpts include:
Should the public be concerned? No, the general public should not be overly concerned. The public needs to know that there is no immediate danger to their health related to the current situation. TB is spread from person to person through the air, and usually requires prolonged, close contact.
Should people working with the homeless population wear a mask? No, but persons working with homeless populations should remain alert to the signs and symptoms of active TB disease (e.g., prolonged cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss) and refer those individuals promptly for further medical evaluation.
It is shameful and irresponsible of the media to mislead the public in a way that causes unwarranted panic and that further demonizes Skid Row. LAPD gave a directive for officers to wear masks, something NOT recommended by Public Health officials. We have also already heard stories and witnessed LAPD sensationalizing the rumors around TB to further violate the rights of local residents.
In the video below, officers justified private security guards illegally going through private property by saying it was “for your own safety” considering “all the stuff that has been in the news” about “people getting sick.” LAPD sits by as BID guards cut open people’s bags – even those clearly marked with Not Abandoned signs.
To counter this mis-information, and promote community-based health responses, LA CAN is organizing a Community Meeting with the LA County Department of Public Health on Friday, March 1, at 6pm. The event will be co-hosted by SRO Housing and held at the James M. Wood Community Center on 400 E. 5th Street (5th and San Julian). Come find out what you really need to know and get involved in promoting community health in Skid Row!
Click HERE for a flyer and help spread the word!
Downtown Women’s Action Coalition presents The Vagina Monologues
Written by Eve Ensler
Purchase your tickets TODAY! Contact Beckyd@cangress.org | 213.228.0024
Thursday, February 21 | Friday, February 22 | Doors open at 6:30pm
Vortex Theatre, 2341 E. Olympic Blvd. (at Santa Fe)
All proceeds go to the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition (DWAC). DWAC’s vision is to establish a collective voice that communicates the strength and power of women in the Downtown LA community.
Click HERE to view the event trailer.
General Admission $25 | Low-Income Residents $10 | Group Rate 5 for $50
Last night, February 6, was the first Wednesday of the month – the day that up to a few months ago was designated for the so-called “Skid Row Safety Walk” by the Central City East Association. LA CAN has continued using the first Wednesday of the month for a real, community-based public safety walk that engages residents in current health and safety projects, and promotes participation in our other human rights work.
However, around 6 pm it was clear that the police presence was unusually high, even for Skid Row. On Wall St. there were 20-25 squad cars and 50+ LAPD officers outside of Central Division. As we continued our walk, we saw dozens of instances of LAPD officers pulling up on residents, cuffing them, and rifling through their personal possessions for extended periods of time. More often than not, these residents were then uncuffed and left to re-organize their possessions without any explanation for why they were detained.
This pattern continued today as our Community Watch police monitoring team documented at least 10 incidents in less than an hour.
It is clear that there has been an enforcement policy change in recent days. The amount of harassment and civil rights violations that have occurred in the last week are above their regularly high rates, and the constant LAPD presence on every corner from Main St. to Central has only exacerbated tensions and escalated the feeling of occupation that has come to characterize our community. Our community will not accept this and we will fight back against this resurgence of the occupation of Skid Row.
LA CAN remains steadfast in its dedication to defending the human and civil rights of Skid Row residents – and we will respond accordingly by documenting this surge in policy presence, educating residents to know their rights and to defend them, and organizing our community to stop the abusive, racist policing in Downtown LA.
Hundreds of residents and organizations from ACROSS L.A. gathered at City Hall this morning to STOP the Community Care Facilities Ordinance (CCFO), which would unfairly restrict and eliminate shared housing options in LA, increasing homelessness and segregation in our communities.
Link to Los Angeles Times article HERE.
Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich lost another round in his misguided legal battle to lift a court order barring the city from seizing and destroying the unattended property of homeless people who live in downtown’s skid row.
On Friday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear an earlier decision by a three-judge panel that put the ban in place. The judges ruled that the city’s policy violated homeless people’s 4th Amendment right to be free of unreasonable seizure of their property.
Trutanich can’t be too surprised by the latest turn of events. After all, the city has been sued several times since 1989 over near-identical policies on skid row, and each time a federal court has intervened to block those efforts.
Moreover, the city attorney’s legal argument in this case hasn’t been terribly persuasive and amounts to little more than that the homeless are using the sidewalks as their personal storage area. That may be true, but it ignores that, by definition, the homeless have no other place to put their possessions. And as the appeals court originally concluded, such logic would allow the police to seize and destroy a car simply because it was illegally parked momentarily.
It will be interesting to see Trutanich’s next move. In July, the city conducted a 13-day sweep that complied with the existing court order. That cleanup effort struck the right balance between protecting public health and respecting the rights of the homeless. That seems like a good model going forward.
As many of you know, the City Council is preparing to vote on the Community Care Facilities Ordinance – an ordinance that would unfairly restrict and eliminate shared housing options in LA – increasing homelessness and segregation in our communities. Visit www.stopccfo.org for more details and history.
We need your help to ensure this ordinance does NOT pass! In just a few short minutes you can join us in our movement to defeat the Community Care Facilities Ordinance!
Help us Spread the Word!
LIKE us on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/V8QQ52) – and share our videos and updates with your friends!
FOLLOW us on Twitter (twitter.com/StopCCFO) – and RETWEET our Action Alerts using the Hashtag #StopCCFO!
Save the Date!
It is very likely the City Council will vote on this proposed ordinance on Wednesday, January 30th. Save the date for the 10:00 am Council meeting – we will keep you updated when the date is confirmed.
Sign online and make a call BEFORE JAN 30th!
Sign our online petition at Change.org (http://chn.ge/XffrQc) – and encourage your friends and families to do the same!
Call City Council Members Krekorian, Zine, LaBonge, Koretz, Parks, Wesson and Buscaino and urge them to VOTE NO!
And/or call to thank Council Members Alarcon, Huizar, Perry, Rosendahl and Garcetti for their public commitments to vote no!
District 1: Ed Reyes- (213)-473-7001
District 2: Paul Krekorian- (213)-473-7002
District 3: Dennis Zine- (213)-473-7003
District 4: Tom LaBonge- (213)-473-7004
District 5: Paul Koretz- (213)-473-7005
District 6: Vacant- (213) -473-7006
District 7: Richard Alarcon- (213)-473-7007
District 8: Bernard Parks- (213)-473-7008
District 9: Jan Perry- (213)-473-7009
District 10: Council President, Herb Wesson- (213)-473-7010
District 11: Bill Rosendahl- (213)-473-7011
District 12: Mitchell Englander- (213)-473-7012
District 13: Eric Garcetti- (213)-473-7013
District 14: Jose Huizar- (213)-473-7014
District 15: Joe Buscaino- (213)-473-7015
For more information, visit stoplapdspying.org.
With almost 150 diverse community members present, several participants commented that the January 19th Townhall was informative, educational, and empowering.
The townhall affirmed the pervasive and rapidly expanding spying and surveillance apparatus:
- impacts everyone and not just one community or another;
- continues the national security rhetoric, which needs to be debunked;
- criminalizes dissent, which must be exposed and challenged;
- is a waste of precious public resources;
- increases racial profiling and targeting of undocumented immigrants, youth, LGBTQ communities, and other communities of color.
Community members shared stories about being detained and questioned by LAPD for simply taking photographs, highlighting the insidious nature of Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) policies leading to harassment and disruption of lives and potentially being placed in LAPD’s Special Order 1 data base. One community member shared her story of stalking, surveillance and being followed by Torrance PD in retaliation to her filing a report about sexual assault by a Torrance PD officer.
Several suggestions and solutions were offered including:
- educate our communities on new surveillance technologies and monitor their use;
- mainstream conversations on police surveillance and spying as part of LA’s conversation;
- raise awareness that this is just not a phenomenon of the past, but a constant threat to our human rights, privacy and civil liberties;
- monitor and watch the watchers – be prepared for infiltration;
- train to record videos, take pictures and post and share immediately;
- organize to dismantle injustices and not “reform” them;
- develop and implement a strategic outreach plan;
- continue with the intersectional coalition building;
- demand an elected civilian review board over LAPD.
Upcoming Action: The LAPD Inspector General is expected to release his audit of LAPD SO 1 at the Police Commission meeting on the 1st (5th Feb) or 2nd (12th Feb) Tuesday of February. The coalition will be releasing its “Peoples’ Audit” at the same time. Please mark the days for a potential Call to Action. The LAPD commission meeting agenda is posted on the Friday prior to the meeting.
The townhall set the stage for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s next phase of grass root organizing, community outreach and education, and advocacy. Thanks to efforts of many who’ve been on the frontlines and in the background helping the coalition build the groundswell to fight back.
This weekend and next week be sure to check out exclusive screenings of Lost Angels at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. For information on the screenings, visit the Lost Angels Facebook Page HERE.
In addition to telling the stories and struggles of homeless individuals living in Skid Row, Lost Angels also makes the important connection between homelessness, the gentrification in Downtown LA, and the Safer Cities Initiative, which has brought over 150 additional LAPD officers to Skid Row and criminalized the lives of thousands of homeless folks Downtown.
A lot of the footage you’ll see in the clip below is from LA CAN’s Community Watch Program.
Hamid Khan, (562) 230-4578
Pete White, (213) 434-1594
Mariella Saba, (323) 382-1631
Los Angeles Area Fusion Spy Center Exposed! Communities Demand full Transparency and End to Civil Liberties and Privacy Violations!
What: Press Conference and Rally at the Los Angeles area Fusion Center also known as JRIC – Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
When:Thursday, December 13, 2012 11:00 am
Where: 12440 E. Imperial Hwy., Norwalk, CA 90650
Who: Stop LAPD Spying Coalition including numerous organizational and individual members.
On October 3rd, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a highly critical report on Fusion Centers, calling it “Waste at State and Local Intelligence Fusion Centers” (full report available at http://stoplapdspying.org/category/campaign_news).The Senate report said that after spending almost $1.4 Billion,“Fusion centers intelligence reporting was often flawed, irrelevant or useless, and inappropriate or unrelated to terrorism.” The report further exposed, “…civil liberties intrusions and potentially illegal reports about constitutionally protected activity,” and “…in some cases Fusion Centers lack adequate financial oversight and failed to hold officials accountable who reportedly violated guidelines.”
The senate subcommittee report confirms the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s deep concern with the Los Angeles Police Department’s flawed Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) program. LAPD is a leading law enforcement agency which shares information with the Los Angeles Area Fusion Center, one of the largest in the country, located in Norwalk, CA.Since March 2008, pursuant to Special Order (SO) 1 and iWATCH program, LAPD has opened and sent thousands of secret files to the Norwalk location.
Jamie Rae Garcia, a registered nurse and member of the coalition said “The senate report on fusion centers confirm that LAPD Suspicious Activity Reporting amounts to a waste of precious public resources during a time of economic crisis, when critical services are being cut back, homelessness is on the rise and education is being gutted.”
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition has filed strong opposition to LAPD’s role in facilitating secret data collection of lawful activities. “LAPD Special Order 1 and iWATCH allow the routine use of innocent activity, like taking pictures or using binoculars, and many other activities, to open formal police investigations without one’s knowledge. They systematically invade privacy and violate our civil liberties,” said Jim Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild and member of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is a diverse grassroots coalition that includes youth, immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, academics, LGBTQ community members, artists, lawyers, and faith based and community-based organizations. The coalition has demanded that LAPD rescind Special Order 1 and terminate the iWATCH program. Not only do these policies violate privacy and civil liberties, they further add to police practices based on false positives and racial profiling. The Senate report has stated very clearly – “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”
Visit www.stoplapdspying.org for more information. Endorsing organizations include Dream Team LA, LA Community Action Network,
Youth Justice Coalition, Interfaith Communities United in Justice and Peace, Labor Community Strategy Center, Enlace,
Southern California Immigration Coalition, National Lawyers Guild-LA, IDEPSCA, Sin Fronteras, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Gender Justice LA, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives, Occupy the Hood LA, Occidental College – Urban and Environmental Policy Institute
On March 21st, 2012, LA Human Right to Housing Collective members, representing 8 of the City’s 14 public housing developments, filed suit against the Housing Authority for refusing to reimburse them for years of unjust trash fees. Under federal regulations, the residents should receive a rent credit for the fees. The suit is currently in mediation.
That is why on November 29th, the Collective’s Public Housing Committee’s members arrived at a packed Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Meeting to make clear that although the legal process is moving at a snail’s pace, the residents are not sitting idly by but are instead taking advantage of the extra time to engage their neighbors in the campaign to end the trash fees. By going door to door in their neighborhoods, Collective members obtained over 1,000 postcards and an equal amount of momentum for the campaign within several short weeks. “We respect your rules, and our neighbors, we expect you to respect our rights” testified Francisco Estrada before the commission as his Pueblo del Rio neighbor Lucia Sanchez held the stack of postcards high and proud. “The real power in our presence is with the 1,000 more residents who stand with us today,” said Lucia.
While we await the outcome of the lawsuit, the Collective will continue to engage more residents and allies. Next week we will be at City Hall, presenting the Mayor and the Council with the postcards and asking for their support in bringing an end to the trash fees.
Carmen Trutanich, backed by the Los Angeles Police Department and Central City East Association, has incessantly attempted (on three recent occasions) to obtain the authority to simply deprive homeless people of their personal property. Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, brought by Civil Rights Attorney, Carol Sobel simply lays out what is prescribed by the U.S. Constitution, that people have a right to property to which the courts have agreed, on three occasions.
LA CAN has been fighting and reporting on this issue for quite some time but is still amazed at the cavalier attitude taken by the City Attorney as he continues to spend limited resources from shrinking city coffers. Never-mind the fact that Los Angeles has lost the EXACT same battle numerous times since the 80′s, Nuch continues to run headstrong into the weeds.
LA Times’ Sandra Hernandez has covered this story/legal fiasco from the start and has offered Nuch a bit of wise advise, stop ALREADY! Carmen, would you please stop? We’re asking you nicely, this time, but as residents of Los Angeles we could create a list of things that deserve your full attention…this ain’t one of them!
Last week, on November 8th, LA CAN members again protested outside the Orpheum Theater during the Central City Association’s second mayor candidate breakfast. This time the CCA was hosting Councilmember Jan Perry – and, this time, CCA and the Downtown LA 1% called in the LAPD to try to shut us down.
After trying to silence the free speech rights of Skid Row residents by stating that we were “disturbing the peace”, we were informed by LAPD that the individuals inside the meeting – business leaders, Central City Association members, etc. – were going to arrest us. Please watch the video above to see just how it went down.
Click HERE for direct article link at The Los Angeles Times.
The newest community garden in Los Angeles has no soil, bakes in all-day sun and is seen by few outsiders except those who pass above in helicopters.
The Skid Row Community Garden is on the roof of a four-story building on South Main Street, between 5th and 6th streets in downtown L.A. It’s part of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, an 11-year-old organization with more than 600 members working with homeless and low-income people in the Skid Row area, a population that by some estimates totals about 13,000.
Pete White, founder and co-director of the group, points to the south noting that just a few blocks away is the produce market, the hub for much of Southern California’s fresh fruit and vegetables, but the residents of downtown wouldn’t know it. Want a definition of food insecurity? Try to buy a fresh carrot around here.
“If the city can’t get fresh produce to skid row, we’ll grow our own,” he says.
The garden is young, started in late June with tomatoes, peppers and herbs, everything planted in plastic containers. Now, with the help of master gardeners Anne Hars and Maggie Lobl, the first fall crop will be going in: fava beans, radishes, brassicas such as kale and mustard, peas, herbs, micro-greens and catnip, the last two intended for downtown restaurants and pet emporiums, a potential revenue source.
The building had been the home of an Army-Navy department store with an unreliable elevator. Even though the summer was mild, gardeners had to trudge up more than 100 steps to water plants on the roof, sometimes twice a day during a heat wave.
For the fall crop, Hars enlisted the help of Erik Knutzen, co-author of “The Urban Homestead.” Using a 1917 design, he showed the volunteers how to construct a self-irrigating pot system, or SIP, using two 5-gallon paint buckets, an 18-inch piece of 1-inch plastic pipe and a plastic party cup. (See the YouTube video or read full instructions.) The SIPs work off the wicking method, drawing water up from a bottom reservoir to feed the roots. Though others do use potting soil, the growing medium at the skid row garden is not dirt but a soil-less compound, similar to a seed starter.
It’s a nutritional mix that is just the right weight,” Hars says. “The water wicks up nicely and doesn’t get too soggy at the bottom. If you used regular dirt, there would be no wicking action.”
The first two SIPs are a few weeks old and are thriving. The fava beans are bursting out of the protective sheeting on top in a thick bouquet.
“They’re doing better than my ones at home are,” Hars says.
— Jeff Spurrier
Photo, top: Anne Hars, left, helps Skid Row Community Garden member Lydia Trejo plant in self-irrigating pots made from 5-gallon buckets.
Photo, above right: Dee Weakly, a member of the Skid Row Community Garden, drills a water-overflow hole in a self-irrigating pot at the Los Angeles Community Action Network downtown.
Photo, above left: Though the plant in the foreground looks stressed, the fava beans in the background are thriving.
Photo credit: Ann Summa