Click HERE to read the July/August 2014 Community Connection.
Click HERE to download a high-resolution PDF version.
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.
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.
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.
January 18-19 2014–
LA CAN joins organizations across Los Angeles to pursue a Homeless Bill of Human Rights to stop abuses in Los Angeles as well as up and down the entire western region. Mad respect goes out to Hunger Action Los Angeles, Occupy Venice, Occupy LA, Venice Food Not Bombs, A.W.A.R.E., Revolutionary Autonomous Communities, Monday Night Mission, Intercommunal Solidarity Community, Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, NESRI, and WRAP.
Organizations like LA CAN have the ability to sue private entities (like landlords) for unfair or illegal business practices (like the 28 day shuffle). It’s important for LA CAN to be able to do this because we represent the community and can get broader relief (like an injunction against raising rents or relocation money for displaced tenants). If we stand by and do nothing we are harming our mission. However, when LA CAN organizes against unfair business practices, it costs us money in resources—like staff time for organizing tenants. The unfair business practices law presently allows us to get damages (money) for those lost resources. A recent example is the Huntington hotel case where we were able to win injunctive relief and settled for relocation money for our members who were displaced.
There is a case in the Court of Appeals where a biotech company is claiming that an animal rights organization should not be able to sue them under the unfair business practices law. They want the court to make it harder for organizations to be able to sue under this law and recover damages for lost resources. Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles wrote a brief on behalf of LA CAN to tell the court that organizations like LA CAN should continue to be able to sue under this law and should not make it more difficult to recover lost resources. Several public interest law firms around the state joined in the brief. This will hopefully help the animal rights organization with their case.
For more info, read THIS Animal Legal Defense Fund Blog post.