SAVE THE DATE: June 14, 2014 | LA CAN Freedom Now Awards and Fundraiser!
More details to come. Mark your calendars!
For more information, contact Becky at 213.228.0024 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
I’m taking this opportunity to call foul! The recent “firestorm” about jaywalking tickets http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-jaywalking-20131218,0,6633088.story#axzz2nyPUszgU in downtown would be laughable if not for the obvious…poor and homeless people of color have been targeted for the same offense (allegedly stepping off the curb after the light starts blinking); handcuffed and detained for inordinate periods of time; and ticketed over and over again on the same streets, for nearly eight years.
Since the launch of the Safer Cities Initiative in 2006 the LAPD has written as many as 1,000 tickets (mostly jaywalking) per month in Downtown Los Angeles. The majority of those tickets have been given to poor, homeless and disabled residents living within the rapidly gentrified boundaries of the city’s center. To put it in perspective that is 1,000 tickets, per month, given to a population of 12,000 – 15,000 people.
Ironically, this is not a new situation. There have been numerous studies and reports done; residents have lobbied the LAPD, the Police Commission, Mayor Villaraigosa, Department of Justice and numerous other duty-bearers; there have been numerous public actions and protests to decry the discriminatory actions but the complaints fell on deaf ears.
The jaywalking tickets reached such outlandish proportions that it led to the development of the LA CAN Citation Defense Clinic. Week in and week out lawyers from the Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation and large downtown law firms provided legal representation for residents in downtown to fight against a system that was clearly tantamount to the creation of a debtors prison. But it wasn’t just large firms that responded to this obvious targeting of poor people. Carol Sobel, Gary Blasi, John Raphling and many other lawyers and students brought their resources to bear to stop the ticketing. Research was done; numerous meetings with the City Attorney’s Office happened; meetings with judges in charge of Metropolitan Court happened and plenty of press releases went out…but never the type of FIRESTORM (editorials and such) that we are being bombarded with today.
So, why is that?
The only thing different is the socio-economic status and race of those (few people) whose privilege is suddenly challenged.
Could it simply be implicit bias? Or, is it institutional and structural racism on full display before our eyes. Is it really the media’s way of saying that poor and homeless people should only be spoken of during holiday dinners served by celebrities? Or, in the case of Downtown poorest residents, Black and Brown residents, are you saying that their humanity simply doesn’t matter?
Rest assure, the FEW tickets given to privileged newcomers in Downtown Los Angeles pale in comparison to the 10′s of thousands DOCUMENTED tickets given to poor Downtowner’s. And, if this outcry is truly about injustice you would feel duty-bound to lift the injustice in its entirety. You would say, “what’s bad for the goose is bad for the gander!”
There is plenty of EMPIRICAL data, if you so choose to search. You can start right on our blog and that will lead to the United Nations (yes, they had something to say about this) and numerous reports and publications. We look forward to reading fair and balanced coverage of an issue that has crippled many in our community; oftentimes leaving them without Driver’s Licenses; with outstanding arrest warrants because they can’t afford to pay multiple tickets; and, short circuiting their ability to take a step forward.