Archive for CCEA

Footage and Coverage of LA CAN Press Conference on LAPD Lawsuit

Posted in press coverage with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by Cangress
Yesterday morning in front of LAPD Headquarters the Los Angeles Community Action Network announced our lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, LAPD, and the Central City East Association because of their coordinated efforts to silence LA CAN, prevent us from exercising our first amendment rights, and their malicious acts that resulted in the wrongful prosecution of one of LA CAN’s longest term organizers, Deborah Burton.
Click HERE (or on the photo to the left) to read the Los Angeles Times article covering the announcement.

This lawsuit is a result of years of unfair and unjust targeting of LA CAN staff and members by LAPD, a long history of retaliation against us for fiercely and loudly opposing LAPD’s racist Safer Cities Initiative in Skid Row, and, more recently, their efforts to even more blatantly favor the Downtown business community’s position by stifling our right to protest and manufacturing charges against our staff.Through all of the attempts to criminalize us and silence us, LA CAN leaders and members remain unified and strong.  We will continue to organize, continue to protest when needed, and we are hopeful the federal courts will uphold our constitutional rights and direct the City and LAPD to change their tactics, since all efforts at engaging with City officials to stop the years of harassment have failed.

Click HERE to read the official LA CAN Press Conference Statement in its entirety.

Click HERE to view the press packet, which includes the Press Release and a copy of the lawsuit, as well as a few key photos and emails from LAPD Officer Shannon Paulson to employees of the Central City East Association. These documents only scratch the surface of the coordinated effort to prevent LA CAN from exercising our constitutional rights.

Additional Coverage:
Equal Voice, “Los Angeles Group Files Civil Rights Suit Against Police”
Annenberg TV News, “Activist Sues City of LA”

Photos: LA CAN Announces Lawsuit Against City and LAPD

Posted in photos, press coverage with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Cangress

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LA Times: “Skid row activists file lawsuit accusing city of stifling dissent”

Posted in civil rights, Media Advisory, press release with tags , , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Cangress

Below you will find a Los Angeles Times piece by Gale Holland covering the announcement of the LA CAN lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Central City East Association (CCEA), Downtown Industrial District Business Improvement District, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LAPD Lieutenant Shannon Paulson, and former CCEA Executive Director Estela Lopez.

Click HERE for the full press release.

Deborah Burton
By Gale HollandMarch 10, 2014, 4:29 p.m.

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Monday accuses the city of Los Angeles of malicious prosecution for charging a skid row community organizer with assault after she blew an air horn during a demonstration.

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich charged Deborah Burton, 62, with misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly blowing the horn in officials’ ears during a 2011 skid row protest. Burton was acquitted of all charges last July. The suit says the charges were aimed at stifling political dissent.

Police conspired with business leaders, distorted crime reports and lied on the witness stand to frame Burton for crimes she did not commit, the suit says.

City Atty. Mike Feuer, who succeeded Trutanich, said in an earlier interview that the Burton claim had no merit.

“We proceeded in that case in a highly professional way,” he said.

LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said the department would not comment on a pending lawsuit.

The suit, brought by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles on behalf of Burton and the Los Angeles Community Action Network, also accuses police of harassing and intimidating group members and falsely arresting its leaders.

The actions were designed to silence the group’s protests against the displacement and “criminalization” of poor residents of skid row, the densest concentration of homeless and extremely low-income people in the country, the suit says.

“Many business interests and the City officials who support them apparently see the existence of high concentrations of poor people in the area, especially African American men and the highly visible homeless population, as an obstacle to planned business expansion and development,” says the suit.

Also named in the suit are the Downtown Industrial District Business Improvement District, whose security guards patrol skid row on bikes; Central City East Assn. and its former director, Estela Lopez, who ran the improvement district; the Los Angeles Police Department; Police Chief Charlie Beck; and Lt. Shannon Paulson.

“Really, the city should have been helping them fight against homelessness, not put every barrier in their way and blatantly violate their 1st Amendment rights,” said Legal Aid Foundation attorney Barbara Schultz.

The suit seeks an injunction to halt interference with L.A. Community Action Network’s civil and constitutional rights; a declaration that the rights of Burton and her group were violated; and general, special and punitive damages. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The August/September 2013 Community Connection is NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in community connection with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2013 by Cangress

AugSept2013 CC Color_web_1

Click on the Photo above to read the August/September 2013.

You can also view a high resolution PDF version HERE.

CCEA Illegally Using Bolt Cutters to Steal Skid Row Resident Property

Posted in video with tags , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Cangress

Yesterday the LA CAN Community Watch Team came upon the Central City East Association (CCEA) Security Guards attempting to use bolt cutters to illegally confiscate the property of a Skid Row resident. The team intervened to prevent them from stealing the private property, which was clearly not abandoned. However, when the team returned an hour later, the property was gone and the lock was cut.

A September 2012 decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction that bars the City of Los Angeles and LAPD from seizing the property of Skid Row residents. However, private Business Improvement District officers continue to illegally steal property from residents. They regularly claim that this property is abandoned, but LA CAN has documented time and time again that this is not the case. More often than not the property belongs to residents who step away for a few minutes to use the restroom, get a meal, or engage in other life sustaining activities.

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

Posted in civil rights, Uncategorized, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2013 by Cangress

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 June 2011. She was not charged until August 2012, 14 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 in April 2011, CCEA’s Estela Lopez assures her colleagues 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 sent on June 1, 2011 — the evening of the purported assault — Estela confirms they were able to complete their walk “as planned” and never mentions being assaulted or injured by Ms. Burton or anyone else from LA CAN.   In a July 2011 email from LAPD’s Lieutenant Paulson, she tells the City Attorney that she needs information about the filing and documentation 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.

Media, LAPD Misrepresent TB Outbreak in Skid Row Creating Unnecessary Fear and Further Demonization: Community Meeting to be held with L.A. Dept. of Public Health to Dispel Rumors Around TB and Promote Effective Health Education

Posted in civil rights with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by Cangress

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!

“Three Strikes and You’re Out!”: Trutanich Stop Wasting Our Resources

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2012 by Cangress

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!

Join us TOMORROW for our Monthly Protest of the Central City East Association’s Skid Row “Neighborhood Watch Walk!”

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , on April 3, 2012 by Cangress

Estella Lopez and CCEA Continue Their Misinformation Campaign

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Cangress

Last week, The Los Angeles Times’ published an editorial (“L.A.’s skid row property rights”) calling out City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and his “misguided use of resources” in trying to overturn a recent federal court decision that bars the city and LAPD from seizing/destroying the property of homeless residents living in Skid Row.

On February 28, Estela Lopez (Executive Director of the Central City East Association) issued a problematic response (“Skid row: Hoarding trash on sidewalks isn’t a right”) that was riddled with misinformation and straight out lies. She continues to mischaracterize and demonize our community in the media.

To be clear, Estela Lopez and the CCEA do NOT speak on behalf of Skid Row residents – housed or homeless. The CCEA represents downtown L.A. businesses that pay Lopez and her organization to advocate on their behalf.  If her concern for housed Skid Row residents expressed in the editorial were real, she could work with residents on solutions instead of blaming us for our community’s problems.

In her response, Lopez states “those who are critical of this injunction don’t dispute the right of the homeless to have personal property.” However, that is precisely the position taken by the City of Los Angeles at the behest of those interested in removing poor people from downtown Los Angeles. Leading the charge has been  Los Angeles City Attorney, Amy Field  who has openly in her arguments to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, fought against the notion of property rights and due process in Skid Row.

In an exchange with judges, Ms. Field stated “I’m not conceding that they [homeless residents of Skid Row] have a constitutionally protected property right. In fact, that’s my point…that they don’t.” (Hear audio of this quote and others HERE)

Then Lopez concludes her shallow rebuttal by stating that the injunction “is about whether it is safe, sane and civilized to allow limitless and hazardous possessions to occupy the sidewalks that belong to everyone,” which is a blatant misstatement of fact. The injunction does NOT allow for limitless OR hazardous possessions on the sidewalk.  In fact, it expressly states that property that presents an immediate threat to public health or safety CAN be seized.

Ms. Lopez, Skid Row residents are perfectly capable and speaking for themselves – and they do it every day in their fight for an equitable community that values long-time low-income and homeless residents.  Your version of our community only perpetuates myths and stereotypes.

********************************************************

The specific directives in U.S. District Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez’ ruling state that the City, and its agents and employees, are enjoined from:

“1. Seizing property in Skid Row absent an objectively reasonable belief that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime, or contraband; and

2. Absent an immediate threat to public health or safety, destruction of said seized property without maintaining it in a secure location for a period of less than 90 days.”

Therefore, the injunction in no way instructs the City of Los Angeles to stop picking up trash. Nor does it stop LAPD from enforcing laws that regulate appropriate sidewalk access or from taking property that presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime.

What the injunction actually does is bar the city from seizing and destroying the personal possessions of homeless residents.

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