Archive for Pete White

Hot Off the Press: Community Connection #38

Posted in community connection, grassroots policy, health access, housing victories, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, organizing, Uncategorized, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by Cangress

community connect 38new layout final

[click on link above to read CC #38]

In this issue you will join residents as they go “trick or treating” at Mayor Villaraigosa’s mansion, which of course is owned by the public. Also, you can read about the Housing Authority’s latest attempts to silence the voices of public housing tenants who are opposing HACLA’s Annual Plan. You will join the Community Connection in Brazil for the Homeless World Cup as our correspondent covers the games and thriving social movements. As always you will find these stories and many more in your Community Connection.

Press Release: Downtown Residents and Faith-Based Groups Protest Increasing Criminalization and Harassment, Human Rights Abuses, and Four Years of Financial Waste

Posted in civil rights, education, food access, grassroots policy, health access, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, organizing, Uncategorized, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by Cangress

September 29, 2010

Contact: Pete White

Los Angeles

Community Action Network

(213) 228-0024 Ext. 201

Downtown Residents and Faith-Based Groups Protest Increasing Criminalization and Harassment, Human Rights Abuses, and Four Years of Financial Waste

On Thursday, September 30th, Skid Row residents and faith-based supporters took action all day long to highlight both long-standing and new tactics of criminalization of homelessness and poverty.

Last week, Mayor Villaraigosa touted his purported efforts to end homelessness in Los Angeles by holding a dog and pony show at the New Genesis project in downtown LA.  Yet he failed to acknowledge that his permanent supportive housing program hasn’t funded any new units in more than a year while at the same time the Mayor has refused to end his expensive, failed policing initiative on Skid Row, which has already cost local taxpayers hundreds of millions.

There has been no relationship between crime rates and police resources on Skid Row, where in 2006 former Chief Bratton added 50 extra uniformed officers and as many undercover cops to police a 50-square-block area that’s home to only 15,000 people, most of them poor and black.

Recently, Chief Beck and Councilmember Perry escalated Safer Cities policing to a new low, establishing new “criminals” in faith-based groups distributing free food and other basic necessities in Skid Row.  After more than 35,000 arrests and tens of thousands of citations under Safer Cities, LAPD is not just targeting poor and homeless people but also the people that provide much needed relief to them.

And now this model will be exported — this devastating enforcement strategy was just unveiled last week as a solution for homelessness in Venice.  Criminalization does not end homelessness or poverty – it only exacerbates it.


LA CAN Moderates “Zoning In On Healthy Food Townhall Meeting”

Posted in food access, grassroots policy, health access, human & civil rights, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by Cangress

–Los Angeles, CA

It is no mystery that built environments in low-income communities reflect an “anything goes” mentality. What else could explain the vast numbers of auto repair shops, chrome plating businesses, chemical plants, liquor stores, motels & hotels, and of course fast food restaurants–fast food restaurants that far outnumber establishments that provide fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and  produce.

Community Health Councils [CHC] has a long history of fighting to make L.A. a healthy place for all Angelenos regardless of  socio-economic status. From health care access to encouraging full-service supermarkets to invest in poor communities CHC has been leading the charge. So it was not a mystery when they pushed for and secured an Interim Control Ordinance [ICO] temporarily  restricting the development of new stand alone fast food restaurants in L.A.s poorest communities. That ICO is set to expire in late September 2010 and a permanent ordinance/plan has yet to be created.

Why is this important?

The levels of food related illness in poor communities is grossly disproportionate to those levels found in more affluent areas. Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity is but a few examples of illnesses that are impacting our families, children and adults alike, and leading to costly medical bills and oftentimes premature death.  These facts alone create the moral and financial imperative to ensure a permanent ordinance is created ASAP.

The town-hall, held at Second African Methodist Episcopal Church, was attended by many residents concerned about their unhealthy  food  environment. Also in attendance, however, was Council-member Bernard Parks, Marie Rumsey, representing Council-member Jan Perry, as well as representatives from the public health and planning departments.

Pete White, LA CAN, facilitates a spirited question and answer period

The town-hall meeting was moderated by LA CANs, Pete White, who gently prodded presenters to share with attendees what was needed to make a permanent ordinance an immediate reality. At one point Council-member Parks shared that in South Los Angeles planning that customarily happens every year in other communities happens every couple of decades in South Los Angeles. That of course left one question, “where have you been in correcting this obvious problem?”

Residents stayed long into the night to plan the next course of action. Organized into 5-workgroups residents developed community-based action plans that would be used to galvanize recruitment efforts and secure a long overdue ordinance that will protect the health of our community.

Stay Posted!

President Obama Signs “The Fair Sentencing Act”

Posted in anti-violence, civic participation, civil rights, food access, grassroots policy, health access, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, organizing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Cangress

President Obama signs Historic Legislation: The Fair Sentencing Act

Indeed, as detailed in our May 2008 report, Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States, blacks and whites engage in drug offenses—possession and sales—at roughly comparable rates. But because black drug offenders are the principal targets in the “war on drugs,” the burden of drug arrests and incarceration falls disproportionately on black men and women, their families and neighborhoods. The human as well as social, economic and political toll is as incalculable as it is unjust.

–Human Rights Watch, “Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States”

The “War on Drugs,” which more appropriately should be considered a war against the civil and human rights of the Black community, has lost the full potential of one of its mightiest weapons—the disproportionate targeting, prosecution, and imprisonment of Black drug users.  President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, passed by both the House and Senate with bi-partisan support, and severely reduces the disparity of prison sentences faced by Black people charged with drug crimes and begins to reverse the crash course our communities has been on for decades.  Reduce but not eradicate.

Since the 1980’s mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines, used primarily to penalize Black users, have openly discriminated against African Americans. From 1999 through 2007, 80% percent or more of all drug arrests were for possession rather than sales (Human Rights Watch). Ignoring FBI data, which clearly illustrated users and not dealers were being netted, Administration after Administration continued to pursue their failed War on Drugs. It needs to be mentioned that the biggest boost of “war on drugs” funding was appropriated during the Clinton Era.

A key piece of the failed and discriminatory War on Drugs is the discrepancy known as the 100-1 ratio which sentenced a person in possession of just five grams of rock cocaine [the form of cocaine most prevalent in Black communities] to five years in prison on the first offense. However, a person needed to be in possession of no less than 500 grams of powder cocaine [the form not readily available in Black communities] to receive the same sentence.

The Fair Sentencing Act lessens the ratio, or racist application, by 82% thus changing the 100-1 disparity to an 18-1 ratio.

African Americans across the nation know all too well the impacts of the proliferation of crack cocaine on their families, communities, and overall health. However, just as devastating as the drug itself has been the mass incarceration of wholesale numbers of Black men, and more recently Black women, and the irreparable damage it has caused them.

As Pete White with the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a member organization of the National 2025 Campaign puts it, “ Mass incarceration has not only removed us from our communities, but it has also stripped us of all potential leaving us stranded in a desert of inequity.”

Make no mistake: what’s left of the War on Drugs is still very powerful and damaging to Black communities.

But today, President Obama has reduced the discriminatory sentencing power that has been used to destroy of our communities.  This is a significant victory, yet there remains much work to be done to achieve equity.

Hot Off the Press: Community Connection #37

Posted in anti-violence, art & culture, civic participation, civil rights, community connection, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, food access, grassroots policy, health access, housing victories, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, organizing, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by Cangress

[enter here to read real stories of Angelenos making history] community connect 37FINAL

It is that time again, Community Connection time! This edition will highlight the Los Angeles Right to Housing Collective’ response to the May 21, 2010 melee in City Council. We will take you to the Mayor’s Mansion and LA Council President Eric Garcetti’s home where residents let him know “that we shall not be moved!” We will also bring you news from Northern Cali where executives of Amerland Group, headed by Ruben Islas, have been arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection to faulty fire systems in one of their affordable housing for seniors projects [search back-issues of the CC and read more about Amerland's failures to adequately serve low-income families and individuals].  These are but a few of the stories that are just a mouse click away, join us as we connect communities locally and abroad.

New Directions California: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy

Posted in civic participation, education, health access, housing victories, LAPD, legal, organizing, united nations, women's issues with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Cangress

LA CAN is a Co-sponsor of this timely and incredible event. We encourage you to join us on July 8, 2010 at the California Endowment [details below] to learn, grow, and build approaches to substance use and addiction that really make our communities safe.

Solidarity Statement on the May 21, 2010 Proceedings in Los Angeles City Hall

Posted in anti-violence, civic participation, human & civil rights, legal, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by Cangress

Dear LA CAN supporters and friends,

On May 21, 2010 tenants and their allies who were fighting for a temporary rent freeze were betrayed by Councilmembers and attacked by LAPD in City Council Chambers.

We are writing to explain the details of these events, urge your public support, and ask you to sign and return the attached solidarity statement.

On May 21st a 4-month moratorium on rent increases was being considered by City Council, an action that reflected months of organizing and the active involvement of more than 1,000 low-income tenants from across the city in the rent stabilization reform process.  The proposed moratorium was a significant compromise by tenants.  Our original demands were (and still are) for comprehensive rent stabilization ordinance reform and a one-year moratorium until full reforms were in place.  The motion to write the moratorium had passed two weeks prior with an 8-6 vote, and a vote was needed on this day to adopt it.

Council chambers was filled with mostly Black and Brown tenants, including mothers with their children, people with disabilities, elders, Veterans, and others, with more than a hundred people in overflow areas. Tenants had taken the day off from work, left their children in school after hours, and/or had to make special family arrangements to attend the meeting.  After five hours of a Council meeting that included numerous awards, commission appointments, and the declaration of Harvey Milk Day, the Council took up the moratorium item.  Limited public testimony was taken on this crucial issue – about 12 minutes each for those supporting and opposing.  Councilmembers Hahn and Alarcon expressed their support for the moratorium and their willingness to include some additional compromise, and called for a vote.

Council President Garcetti then intervened in the process and introduced an alternate motion to send the issue back to Committee, although two weeks prior he had voted to move it forward — essentially killing the moratorium and any chance for respite for rent-burdened tenants.  That motion passed 10 – 5, with only Councilmembers Alarcon, Hahn, Huizar, Krekorian and Wesson voting on behalf of tenants.

Tenants were outraged by this betrayal and the obvious priority placed on landowners over tenants.  We began chanting such things as “Housing is a Human Right” and “Traitors.”  Councilmember Zine, who was acting President at the time although Mr. Garcetti was in Chambers, immediately called for the police to clear the room.  Within minutes, there were over 60 officers pouring into Council chambers with bean bag guns, taser guns, and billy clubs ready.  Councilmember Zine remained in the President’s seat, instigating the officers and continually commanding LAPD on the loudspeaker with such orders as “Get ‘em out of here.”

Tenants continued chanting as we were moving toward the door.  Our chants posed absolutely no physical threat to any person or property.  An order to disperse was never given by LAPD.  Yet, when the entire large group had already moved about 2/3 of the way to the door, officers charged the group, using extreme force and violence against tenants.  Officers had been aggressive toward tenants all day, but escalated their efforts to the extreme at this point.  The police locked a group of people in the chambers at one point. Also, the police attacked people – shoving, pushing and pulling them to the ground.  They stomped, choked, hit with billy clubs, and shot one person with a taser gun at least four times.  Three people were forcefully arrested, two of whom face felony charges.  These were not planned or justified arrests.

At no time during this violence did Councilmember Garcetti retain his seat or his obligations as Council President, nor did he intervene to prevent these human and civil rights abuses happening in front of his face.  Instead he allowed Councilmember Zine to incite the officers further while he sat and laughed and chatted in Mr. Zine’s assigned chair.

We know that many of you consider Mr. Garcetti a friend, an ally, or a supporter, and many of us have as well.  Yet, on May 21st, he was wrong on all counts – he initiated and allowed multiple and massive human rights violations. For years tenants have been overburdened by their rent payments, many paying over 50% of their income to maintain homes. In the meantime landlords have generally had profitable, growing businesses.  Yet, tenants got no break.  Councilmember Garcetti betrayed tenants with his motion to kill the moratorium, a violation of the human right to housing.  He acted on behalf of wealthy property owners instead.  He was not protecting small, “mom and pop” landlords, who had already been exempted from the proposed moratorium.  He was not protecting labor, as he originally claimed to housing leaders, since many union members were present in Chambers and directly expressed their support for the moratorium to him prior to the vote.  And, last, Mr. Garcetti allowed a physical assault on the democratic process in his own Chambers and sat silent watching police brutality against low-income people of color.  This cannot be acceptable to any of us.

There were others who were wrong that day.  Nine other Councilmembers caved to the pressure of large, wealthy landlords instead of taking the opportunity to provide temporary respite for rent-burdened tenants in an historic economic crisis.  Councilmember Zine basically ordered LAPD officers to escalate their tactics against tenants who were already peacefully, but not quietly, leaving chambers.  Councilmember Rosendahl had indicated he would vote against the moratorium.  Many other councilmembers sat and watched the brutality unfold.  And, to date, only Councilmember Alarcon made a public statement that reflected the sad state of affairs in City Hall on that day.

But Councilmember Garcetti is the President and he introduced the motion to kill the moratorium.  He could have simply voted no, and we would have seen where the votes fell.  He did not.  He is also obligated to preside over Chambers, facilitate an open public process, and ensure the safety of those participating in that process.  He did not.

On the same day that Harvey Milk Day was established in Los Angeles, the exact same police force and brutality tactics used against Harvey Milk and those in the gay rights movement were used against LA’s housing rights movement.  In City Hall.  In front of the Council’s own eyes.  As Angelenos, we are asked to participate in civic processes and give input and when we did, enforcers were called in to violently silence us. Again, this cannot be acceptable to any of us.

Today we inform you that we will continue our fight and push forward our demands to ensure that Housing is a Human Right in Los Angeles.  Also, we want to let you know that we hold every Councilmember accountable to the tenant majority in Los Angeles.  The council, as a whole, is morally responsible for ensuring safe, stable and decent affordable housing regardless of market conditions or their own political aspirations.

We urge you to act.  We urge you to publicly voice your opinions and position about this travesty of justice.  While private conversations are often useful, in this case we need widespread and public response.  We cannot allow May 21st to happen without accountability from all of those who participated – either actively or silently.  As a first and simple step, you can sign the attached solidarity statement, which will be shared with public officials and others. We also urge you to send/email more extensive letters to Councilmember Garcetti and others, and provide copies to us.  There are many other ways you can support the LA Right to Housing Collective’s actions now and in the future, so please contact us if you are interested and willing to act.

Signed:

The LA Right to Housing Collective, including:

Coalition LA, Comunidad Presente, Inquilidos Unidos, Los Angeles Community Action Network, POWER, South Asian Network,

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, and Union de Vecinos.

(All of whom had members and staff present in Council Chambers on May 21, 2010)

News clips and raw video are available at:

KTLA-Rent-Control-Advocates-and-LAPD-Clash-at-City-Hall-Raw-Video

?id=135380@kcbs.dayport.com

Rent Freeze for Main Street!

Posted in civil rights, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, food access, health access, housing victories, human & civil rights, legal, organizing, Uncategorized, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by Cangress

Freeze Our Rents Right Now

-Los Angeles, CA

Angelenos, withering under the weight of a depression with no end in sight, are calling for the Los Angeles City Council to give them a break. The break they are demanding comes in the form of a “rent freeze” slated to last for the next 12 months. It is fact that the lion’s share of Los Angeles residents are indeed renters. Plus, in light of the housing bubble collapse, many more Angelenos have been thrust into marginal housing; an already over-burdened social service system; and the ranks of homelessness.

As cuts to crucially needed services continue to send the quality of life for poor residents straight down the toilet, banks and businesses continue to get bailed out. Adding insult to injury  in many instances banks have assumed the role of landlord in foreclosed multi-unit properties. There are numerous reports stating that banks are not making repairs, violating health and safety code standards, and attempting to drive people from their units. Why? Because it is easier to get rid of an empty building, that’s why!

Many of these institutions are direct, or indirect beneficiaries, of the bailout.

A Little History

The City-sponsored “Economic Study of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and the Los Angeles Housing Market” (RSO Study) was released in June 2009. This study includes recommendations relative to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), including calling for the elimination of the 3% “floor” on rental increases allowed by the RSO based on the Consumer Price Index and elimination of the additional 1% rent increase allowed for each utility (gas or electricity) where it’s included in the rent. The study showed that the utility increases allowed in the RSO bears no relationship to the actual cost to landlords, thus providing landlords with a significant windfall at tenants’ expense.

The current CPI rate for 2010 is -.62 %, which means that renters will face unjustified rent increase of 3%, due to the “floor” beginning July 1, 2010, unless the rent increase moratorium is passed.

The City of West Hollywood currently has a 0% allowable rent increase. In San Francisco rent increases are now 0.1%,  in Oakland it is 0.7%, in Santa Monica it is a 1% increase, and in Berkeley it is a 0.1% allowable rent increase.  Why does Los Angeles continue to stand out and to have a 3% minimum increase on the books?

On May 5, 2010, in a 3-1 vote in our favor, we were able to convince the Community & Economic Development Committee that a moratorium is warranted. As with all political struggle our original 12-month demand was reduced to 4 months–of course this was without our knowledge or support. While this falls short of our ultimate 12-month moratorium we are clear that we will continue to fight hard for a vote on Friday that reflects the community’s. Moreover, we will not stop fighting for the Human Right to Housing until all of our demands are met.

If you are a tenant living in Los Angeles we urge you to come and join the growing ranks of tenants fighting for the rent-freeze and the universal right to housing.

Details:

LA City Hall , 200 N. Main, Los Angeles, CA

Friday, May 7th 10:00am – conference to be held immediately after the vote

Community Connection #35 — Hot Off the Press!

Posted in community connection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Cangress

It’s that time again, Community Connection time. If you’re tired of the same old mainstream media mis-truths, myths, and mis-information simply join the growing Community Connection readership. You can now find the Community Connection in various locations on the web including;  http://www.street-papers.org/or just return here.

community connect 35 final complete [click the link to read CC #35]

It’s Action Time:House Keys Not Handcuffs

Posted in anti-violence, art & culture, civic participation, civil rights, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, grassroots policy, housing victories, human & civil rights, legal, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by Cangress

San Francisco California,

On January 19th 2010 organizations based across the western region converged on San Francisco by bus, plane, and van. The trek for most was treacherous because of the storm that walloped the West Coast on its way east. WRAP member “Sisters of the Road” found themselves stuck for hours near the California/Oregon border as the snow storm forced road closures. All in all everyone arrived safely and in great spirits, change was definitely in the air.

The size of the rally and march demanded one final logistics meeting. It was decided that we would host a press conference, final logistics meeting, and pre-rally party to ensure that all of our bases were covered. Over 100 hundred volunteers and supporters met at El Balazo ["The Bullet" in English]to prepare for the rally and march.

The venue created the perfect environment for the evening that was plan to kick off this historic event. The walls were adorned with images and art illustrating heroes of revolutionary transformation.

The crowd mulled anxiously waiting for the press conference to begin.

boona cheema from Berkley Oakland Support Services, BOSS for short, kicked off the press conference.

boona was followed by Paul Boden, WRAP Director, who layed out the rally/march purpose and demands in a way that only Paul can.

Other press conference speakers included representatives from Sisters of the Road, [Portland, Oregon] BOSS, [Berkley & Oakland, CA] Los Angeles Community Action Network, [LA CAN] and many others.

The crowd was captivated by passionate messages of struggle, liberation, and the willingness to confront those responsible for abandoning “Main Street” while simultaneously bailing out “Wall Street.”

After the conclusion of the press conference the work of finalizing logistics and last minute planning began. WRAP coordinating committee members facilitated small work group meetings that covered everything from public-safety and outreach, to legal considerations and feeding lunch to more than a thousand people.

And after ALL the planning was done people danced to the sounds of live Cuban music–the perfect ending to a very long day.

Photos taken by N. Dahmann

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