On Wednesday, July 6th, just hours after the conviction of General Dogon was announced, LA CAN and partners including Dream Team LA, Comunidad Presente, Hippie Kitchen and others gathered for our monthly protest of the supposed Skid Row Neighborhood Watch Walk. Pete White, LA CAN Co-Director, was distinctly targeted and arrested during the protest.
This Walk is organized by the Central City East Association, a business improvement district which promotes criminalization of homelessness and the increased policing and enforcement under the Skid Row Safer Cities Initiative. Often, City Attorney Trutanich, Councilmember Jan Perry, other business leaders, and media attend the walk. What is conspicuously missing every month is Skid Row residents.
LA CAN and our partners decided to begin a monthly protest of this event for several reasons, including: 1) the City Attorney’s crackdown on protest and dissent which has impacted all of the participating organizations; 2) the lack of resident involvement in the Walk – instead using the walk to demonize and degrade residents; and 3) to protest the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI), since the Walkers are generally accompanied by several SCI officers who have made thousands of arrests of poor, mostly Black residents as part of the Initiative.
We have been doing this protest since March, but this month the response from LAPD was quite different and more intense. Although there were only 10-12 people, mostly business reps, participating in the Walk, there were dozens of LAPD officers on hand. Officers gave conflicting information to legal observers about our right to be there and our right to protest on public property.
LAPD at 6th and Gladys, a block before arrest
Although we were simply exercising our first amendment right on a public sidewalk that was not closed to the public nor occupied by a permit obtained by CCEA, Pete White was arrested for what LAPD claimed was disrupting a public meeting. After the arrest, an order to disperse was given and all others were threatened with arrest.
A community partner who also attended the protest of the “Safety Walk” posted this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_4qOHHall8&feature=channel_video_title
LA CAN leadership has been targeted with arrests, detentions, false charges, degrading comments and public statements by LAPD, and much more because of our opposition to Safer Cities and our active resistance to criminalization efforts. We believe this arrest, and especially this ridiculous charge, is unjust like all the rest and we will fight it all the way. Pete has been released from jail and his first court date is scheduled for July 27th. Stay tuned for ways to support.