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.