Click on the Photo above to read the December 2012/January 2013.
You can also view a high resolution PDF version HERE.
Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act Introduced to Assembly
CONTACT: Paul Boden
Western Regional Advocacy Project
DECEMBER 1—A coalition of West Coast poor people’s organizations is working with Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) to introduce a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act on December 3.
In June, Rhode Island became the first state to pass a statewide homeless people’s bill of rights. Building off of the community organizing that led to this success, homeless people’s organizations around the country have been working on similar bills.
California’s is the first bill since Rhode Island’s to be introduced to a state legislature. “California has a long history of using discriminatory laws to keep ‘undesirable’ people out of public places and to hide our bigger social problems. From the Ugly Laws of the mid-19th century—which made it a crime to have a visible disability in public—through the anti-Okie law of the Great Depression—which made it a crime for poor people to enter the state—up through the present, both state and local governments have used these laws to punish or conceal poor people,” said Paul Boden, Organizing Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “But as long as these laws have existed, there’s been resistance. Every single one of those laws has been struck down. We’re introducing this bill of rights because we believe that the time has come to address the wrongs and most importantly stop them from ever happening again.”
The effort is a collaboration between WRAP, Jericho: A Voice for Justice, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Judith Larson of Jericho said, “This is the essence of what Jericho was formed to do, and has continued to do for the past 25 years.”
WRAP has conducted over 800 surveys concerning homeless people’s interactions with law enforcement. 82% of survey respondents had been hassled by law enforcement for sleeping. 78% had had interactions with law enforcement simply because they’d been hanging out in a public space. 77% had been harassed by law enforcement for sitting down. Becky Dennison, Co-Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said, “When we’ve criminalized sleeping, standing, and sitting down, we’ve basically criminalized a person’s existence. A bill like this is long overdue.“
The Act would guarantee homeless people freedom from discrimination in law enforcement, employment, housing and shelter, and public benefits. It protects people’s right to use public space, to keep personal property, and to engage in life-sustaining activities. It also guarantees people the right to counsel in any case where they’re being prosecuted. Paula Lomazzi from Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee said, “These are basic rights that allow all people to stay alive and engage in a democratic society—things most of us get to take for granted, but which remain a daily challenge for many of the poorest members of our communities.”
South Los Angeles, formerly known as South Central Los Angeles, encompasses nearly 100 square miles and is generally considered to include the communities located south of the Santa Monica Freeway, east of LA Brea Avenue, and north of the Century Freeway. With more than one million residents, South Los Angeles is home to many historic neighborhoods, including Leimert Park, the Crenshaw District, Morningside Park, West Adams, Watts,
Long-standing structural violence have led to deep inequities in the health care and physical environment in South Los Angeles. These inequities, in turn, have led to and been worsened by poor health and social outcomes.
Read the South LA Health and Human Rights Declaration here: http://www.southlahealthandhumanrights.org/declaration.html
More information coming soon! Spread the word!
SEIU UHW United Health Care Workers West
LAM Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
LACAN Los Angeles Community Action Network
SAJE Strategic Action for a Just Economy
Esperanza Community Housing
Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers
CHC Commuity Health Councils
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center Right To Health Committees
On Monday, June 4th, LA CAN concluded its 7-Day siege at the Headquarters of the Central City Association with marches, rallying cries and a clear message: “CCA, YOUR COPS WON’T SCARE US AWAY!”
Over the past decade, the CCA, the power business lobby in Downtown LA, has been one of the strongest advocates for increased policing and the criminalization of homelessness and poverty downtown. This has made them one of the major foes of poor and homeless residents who have been fighting to preserve their right to exist in a community that many have called home long before the lofts and art galleries that now line Spring and Main.
This most recent action was planned and executed by LA CAN, Occupy LA, and Occupy the Hood L.A. in response to CCA’s successful push to get LAPD to add 50 additional officers to downtown. This is on top of the over 100 uniformed and undercover cops that came to Skid Row in 2006 as part of the Safer Cities Initiative, which was backed heavily by the CCA.
For 7 straight days and nights, over 50 folks camped out in from the the CCA offices located at 626Wilshire Blvd. In the mornings, the groups rallied, passed out fliers to people on their way to work, and maintained a continual visual presence that let CCA know that residents of downtown will not stand idly by as big business and the LAPD attempts to remove their civil and human rights.
For more photos of the action, you can view a slideshow HERE.
Dale Garrett was shot and killed by LAPD in the Skid Row community last year at this time – the anniversary of the police murder is this coming Thursday. LA CAN members and other community members will be holding a vigil in his honor calling for the end of police murders and abuse, and accountability for officers. The vigil will take place on 5th and Spring Streets at noon – PLEASE JOIN US!
Two weeks ago, the Police Commission finally heard the results of the use of force investigation. Dale was actually shot twice in the back. Just as witnesses – many of whom were LA CAN members who came forward to provide testimony – had earlier claimed, the shooting was found to be out of protocol by the Commission – though Chief Beck and the Inspector General found it to be within protocol. The Commissioners found:
“In conclusion, Detective A and B’s failure to follow proper protocols or to operate in a manner consistent with Department tactical training, by having and communicating an operational/tactical plan, to include support personnel, unjustifiably and substantially deviated from approved Department training.”
“In conclusion, the BOPC found Detective A’s lethal use of force to be out of policy.”
Although the Commission took this unusual action to overrule the internal report (they find the large majority of shootings to be justified, though communities know this isn’t true), Chief Beck gets to decide the discipline for these officers. And the LA Times reported recently that Beck has not been strongly disciplining officers for unjustified shootings – otherwise known as police murders.
While LAPD continues to enforce the most minor violations against poor residents in downtown LA - sending people to jail for sitting on the sidewalk – their officers are allowed to commit major violations, even kill people, without any consequence. LA CAN believes criminal charges should be pursued in this case and we will continue to demand police accountability throughout our community – to the policy makers and on the streets. Stay tuned.
Joel Rubin of the LA Times reported on this today:
The public version of the use of force report is here:
Click on the photo above to read the
March/April 2012 the Community Connection.
A PDF version is also available for download HERE.