JOIN US at the Homeless Bill of Rights SoCal Launch Event THIS SATURDAY!

1186126_10201139849032034_1743356466_nJoin LA CAN, Hunger Action LA, the LA Human Right to Housing Collective, W.O.R.K.S. and many more THIS SATURDAY for the Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign Launch Event.

Saturday, October 5 | 10am – 12pm
Young Burlington Apartments | 820 S. Burlington, Los Angeles, CA 90057

For more information or to RSVP please call 213.228.0024.

HBR Campaign Flyer - 19 September 2013

LA TIMES 9/19/13: “More people, making more money, are flocking to downtown L.A.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 2.06.06 PM
Link to Los Angeles Times article HERE.
By Emily Alpert
September 19, 2013, 4:09 p.m.

More people are flocking to downtown Los Angeles — and they have more money to spend, downtown advocates declared as they unveiled the results of a new study Thursday.

“We have more people. They’re making more money. They are more educated. And they are demanding more,” said Carol Schatz, president and chief executive of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District.

Schatz based her comments on an online survey promoted through community newspaper ads, postcards and door hangers. It drew responses from more than 8,800 people, including more than 3,700 residents. The group cautioned the study was not a “census,” but a sampling of “likely consumers.”

It found that median household incomes of downtown residents had risen by 10% since its last survey two years ago, and that downtowners were also increasingly educated.

The Downtown Center Business Investment District, funded by special taxes in the downtown area, hopes the results spur more investment in the urban core. People who live, work or visit downtown said they were especially interested in a Trader Joe’s or new department stores such as Nordstrom, the survey found. A Whole Foods is already on the way.

But the changes reshaping the city center have also raised worries about whether poorer residents will be served by a gentrified downtown.

“Low-income and middle-income people are also consumers,” said Becky Dennison, co-director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, an advocacy group for people in poverty. “Everybody needs to be taken into account when looking at the future.”

The survey was released to reporters in a bright 9th Street loft owned by architect Simon Ha and his wife, Nikki Olson-Ha.

When they moved downtown six years ago, friends and family asked whether it was safe and where they would get groceries, Ha said. Now, people who hear they live downtown ask about new restaurants and how the neighborhood has changed, he said.

LA TIMES 8/31/13: “L.A.’s urban parks: for the homeless too?”

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 2.06.14 PMLink to Los Angeles Times article HERE.

By Gale Holland
August 31, 2013, 10:00 a.m.

Dawn was breaking when three scruffy men in dark clothing trudged past Grand Park’s bubble-gum-pink benches and into its purple-tiled bathrooms to wash up.

The early-morning ablutions have become a daily ritual for homeless men at the 1-year-old park across the street from Los Angeles City Hall. But their presence has done little to dim the appeal of the $56-million, county-owned venue, as office workers, loft-dwelling professionals, curious suburbanites and, yes, the homeless flock to evening concerts, public ceremonies, fireworks shows and farmers’ markets.

“I went to the opera the other night,” said Tom Hackett, 60, a former garbage collector from upstate New York and one of the regulars at the homeless bathroom lineup. “I’ve never been to an opera.”

The situation isn’t so harmonious in other downtown parks, however, as officials’ efforts to make the facilities more welcoming to the new urbanites have spurred claims of harassment by skid row advocates.

These efforts have also led to homeless nudged out of one park simply relocating to others blocks away — a reminder that even as much of downtown crackles with new, upscale condos, bars, restaurants and stores, the central city’s revival still depends on maintaining an uneasy truce with one of the nation’s largest concentrations of people living in the streets.

“It’s a game of cat and mouse,” said UCLA law professor Gary Blasi, who has studied homelessness in Los Angeles, “except the mice have nowhere to go.”

In the last year, the city and county have opened or planned several new public spaces, including Grand Park, Spring Street Park, an Arts District park and a parcel next to Grand Park to be developed and managed by the city. They join parks that have welcomed visitors for many decades, including Pershing Square, the grassy grounds of City Hall and the historic sites near Olvera Street that mark the city’s founding.

Park managers at Spring Street and Grand Park included extensive regulations and design elements to discourage homeless people from camping out. Grand Park’s open spaces, stretching 12 acres from Bunker Hill to the foot of City Hall, in the shadow of the criminal court building, offer few hiding places for prostitutes or drug users. It’s also farther away from skid row than some other parks, keeping the homeless count comparatively low.

But five blocks south, a resident describes Pershing Square, the city’s original central park, as a “day-care center” for homeless people. The city is trying to change the park’s character with a whirlwind of movies, concert series and farmers’ markets.

“The homeless need somewhere to sit and be,” said Kevin Regan, a park administrator. “We just aren’t going to let them live there.”

Skid row activists call it harassment.

A Los Angeles Community Action Network activist known as General Dogon leads a weekly patrol at Pershing Square and other downtown parks to monitor what he says is widespread intimidation of the poor and homeless.

Dogon pointed out concrete seating in the shade that had been cordoned off with yellow police tape. A chain blocked access to the lawn. Restrooms in the underground garage are off-limits to anyone without a parking ticket, and cafe tables with umbrellas where homeless people once rested are hauled out only for the noon concerts and other activities.

Police patrol cars park, sometimes two abreast, on the concrete plaza around the fountain, and officers stop people for loitering, Dogon said.

“How do you loiter in a park?” Dogon said.

Park officials said the seating is tied off for cleaning or so farmers can store their crates during market days. The grass is off-limits to protect the sound system or to prepare for concerts.

Police and city officials deny any bullying campaign, saying their enforcement efforts are directed at illegal activities.

“We welcome anybody from anywhere into any of our parks,” said Rick Coca, spokesman for Councilman Jose Huizar.

“The key is keeping the area in a way that can be used by all,” said Los Angeles police Capt. Horace Frank, who heads the downtown detail.

Police stepped up their presence at Pershing Square last year in response to complaints afterOccupy Los Angeles was forcibly ejected from the City Hall lawn, Frank said. Remnants of the group disrupted the farmers’ market, urinating on walls, grabbing food samples and demanding spare change, the market manager said.

As Occupiers drifted away from Pershing Square, a rowdy encampment arose outside El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, home to Olvera Street and the site of the city’s founding. People partied to all hours and tossed needles over the wall into La Plaza de Cultura y Artes — a museum focused on the contributions of Mexican Americans in Southern California — said Father Richard Estrada, the parish priest at nearby La Placita church.

“It was like a tent city all day long,” he said.

A city-county task force was formed to clean up the encampment, and some of the tarp-covered shopping carts and tents can now be seen at Father Serra Park, across the street from Union Station.

Climbing out of a tour bus with his family, Berlin tourist Nico Gruenberger looked askance at the huddle in Serra Park, with their plush blankets and carts bristling with plastic bags.

“In Germany we have homeless people, but [this is] a historical part of the city,” Gruenberger said. “Here, unfortunately, everything is together.”

Frank said people have complained about the homeless camp at Serra Park, but other “people put out a blanket, so do they. All you can do is shift them around.”

The newest downtown green space, Spring Street Park, opened in June between 4th and 5th streets. The sign at the entrance lists 12 rules, including a ban on shopping carts. Its metal perforated benches discourage lying down, and there are no little enclosed “alcoves,” said downtown neighborhood council President Patti Berman. So far, the only open conflict has been over loose dogs, she said.

But at less than two-thirds of an acre, including a playground, the small park needs to be watched closely to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe, Berman said. She heads a nonprofit that is raising private money to pay for a full-time city ranger to patrol the park.

Not long after Spring Street Park opened, a security guard at the loft building next door called police to investigate two men suspected of cooking heroin purchased on skid row. Zach Calig, a television writer, came down from his condo to find his cousin, whom he hadn’t seen for years, slumped on the ground in handcuffs.

Calig said he is in recovery from substance abuse himself and understands how people end up addicted and homeless. But he doesn’t want them overrunning his neighborhood park.

“We don’t want it to be Pershing Square,” he said. “We want it to be Grand Avenue park.”

LA CAN and friends say, “No New Jails” in Los Angeles County!

Los Angeles residents, organizations and activists say no to a planned jail expansion in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is currently exploring five proposals offered by Vanir Construction Management Inc. that include building a “mental health facility” (jail) and a “women’s village” (also a jail) at a cost of $1.3 – $1.6 billion dollars. Nowhere in the Vanir proposal is any alternative(s) to building new jail facilities. The proposal is short-sighted and residents are gearing up for a fight to have those dollars placed in community-based crime prevention solutions like housing, services and economic opportunities. Get involved today and please comment on the video. Even the LA Times Editorial section has questions. 

Get involved.

Deborah Burton Not Guilty on All Charges!

We hope July 11 ends the years of targeted efforts by the LAPD and LA’s City Attorney to criminalize organizing, dissent and public protest by LA CAN and dozens of other organizations across Los Angeles.  We know the tactic of criminalizing political movements goes well into our history and well beyond Los Angeles – but yesterday marked a key victory in preventing these attacks on those working for justice.

Yesterday afternoon, a jury found Deborah Burton not guilty on 8 charges of assault and battery, including the “lesser charges” the City Attorney was able to include in the jury instructions.  These unjust charges stemmed from a legal protest of the Central City East Association’s public safety walk in June 2011.  Charges were filed in August 2012 and Deborah has shouldered this burden on behalf of LA CAN and the social justice movement in Los Angeles since then.  She stood strong and firm, and truth and justice prevailed!

anatomy-of-bs-number-one

LA CAN is proud to have Deborah as a long time member and organizer – she continues to demonstrate on a daily basis what commitment, dedication, compassion and bravery look like as she works to defend and promote human rights in Downtown and South LA.  We thank all of our members, staff, Board, community partners, and others who supported us leading up to and during this case.  We express deepest gratitude to John Raphling, who defended Deborah and continues to provide much needed legal representation to community organizers and activists in Los Angeles.

We are all Deborah Burton!  And we are all NOT GUILTY!

group picture after verdict

See community partner’s perspective at NESRI’s blog HERE.

Visit past blog posts for more information on this case – such as HEREand HERE.

LAPD Opens Fire on Skid Row Corner (AGAIN), At Least 1 Person Shot and Killed

GA2

This morning, LAPD officers shot into a crowd on the corner of 5th and Wall in Skid Row. At least one person was shot and killed. LA CAN is still looking into the matter and collecting information from witnesses.

_DSC5845

However, even if LAPD were responding to a crime, was everyone on the corner a suspect? If not, then why shoot multiple rounds in the middle of one of the busiest corners in Skid Row? How many innocent people were put in danger? Were any of them wounded?

This is not the first time this happened. Police officers shooting into crowds of civilians does not make the community safer. It is extremely dangerous and completely unacceptable. Community residents will not stand by idly and allow this to happen. We demand answers and accountability!

Deborah Burton’s Trial Expected in Late April – These Unjust Charges Should be Dropped!

Yesterday, LA CAN was featured on Voices on the Frontlines with Eric Mann. Listen below to find out more about the coordinated efforts of CCEA, LAPD, and the City Attorney to silence the human rights work of LA CAN.

Deborah Burton, longtime LA CAN member and organizer, has been unjustly charged with three counts of assault for alleged actions during a legal protest in April 2011. She was not charged until August 2012, 16 months later, and public records show that in the interim months LAPD and the Central City East Association actively lobbied the City Attorney to criminally charge LA CAN members involved in a monthly protest of the CCEA’s “Skid Row Walk.” Deborah is just the latest target of the City Attorney’s ongoing campaign to squash protest and political dissent in Los Angeles, including other LA CAN members.

Since 2006, LA CAN has led the charge against LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative (SCI), which has brought up to 150 additional cops into the Skid Row community and resulted in mass criminalization of homeless and poor, mostly African American, residents. In 2011, LA CAN and partners began protesting the CCEA’s “Skid Row Walk” because it was a tool to promote SCI, perpetuated myths about homeless people, and lacked the voice and participation of community residents.

Immediately after we began our protests, the CCEA, LAPD, and the City Attorney’s office began coordinating and strategizing on ways to stop LA CAN’s opposition to the walk. The quotes below, from emails obtained through Public Records Request, begin to shine light on just how CCEA was trying to use LAPD and the City Attorney to criminalize first amendment rights.

In one email sent the evening of the alleged incident with Deborah, CCEA’s Estela Lopez assures her Board of Directors that the City Attorney informed her that “they would explore all legal options to protect us and allow us to conduct our walk without interference from LA CAN.”   In another email from LAPD’s Lieutenant Paulson, she tells the City Attorney that she needs information about the filing of cases related to the public safety walk because “This is going to be an ongoing problem until it gets too costly for them.”

Stay tuned for more information about the documents obtained.

The targeting of LA CAN members exercising first amendment rights by LAPD, at the demand of business leaders, is clearly unjust. The City Attorney should not prosecute this unsubstantiated case and should not continue his past history of criminalizing protest and first amendment rights.

LA CAN members and supporters will be calling on the City Attorney over the coming weeks to drop these charges and not pursue this trial. Please join us! You can call the City Attorney’s office directly (213-978-8100) and/or stay tuned for other ways to get involved by spreading the word through social media and other public actions.

Hundreds of Residents and Organizations Gather to STOP the CCFO! The Discriminatory Law Dies in Council!

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.

Continue reading