2/8 Press Conference on Keunang Ruling and City Council Homeless Plan Vote

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 6, 2016 by Cangress

Media Advisory – For Immediate Release          
Contact: Eric Ares 213.228.0024/erica@cangress.org |Pete White petew@cangress.org

Coalition of Over 130 Orgs and Civic Leaders Call for Permanent Housing and End to Criminalization Day Before Critical Council Vote on Homeless Plan

What: Press Conference the day before a crucial LA City Council Meeting/Vote on a Comprehensive Homeless Strategy – days after LAPD Commission Clears Officers in Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang

When: 10:30 am on Monday, February 8th, 2016

Where: Los Angeles City Hall, South Steps

Who: Representatives of a coalition of 130 organizations, service providers, and religious and civic leaders calling for an end to the criminalization of homelessness and at least $100 million per year for permanent supportive housing.

Days after the controversial LAPD Commission decision to clear officers involved in the killing of homeless Skid Row resident Charly “Africa” Keunang and the day before a critical City Council Meeting on a “comprehensive” homeless plan, organizations and leaders from across LA will be holding a press conference at City Hall to demand a truly comprehensive homeless plan – one that dedicates substantial resources to building homes and ends the failed policy of homeless criminalization.

Last November, the coalition – representing the social, professional, racial and religious diversity of over 130 organizations and civic leaders from across LA – delivered a letter to City Council calling for an end to all policies that criminalize homelessness and to make the $100 million plan announced by the Mayor and Councilmembers a long-term reality, not just rhetoric.  The letter reads:

  1. Identify long-term, sustained sources of local funding totaling at least $100 million per year and dedicate the large majority of those resources toward new permanent supportive housing units.
  2. End all “quality-of-life” and “Safer Cities” enforcement against homeless residents, including, but not limited to:
    • Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and 41.18D.
    • Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.
  1. Provide emergency public health resources to people living on the streets without major investment in infrastructure, including mobile restrooms and showers, mobile health and mental health services, and voluntary storage facilities.

Since then, the City Council has engaged in a process of creating a long-term plan, but have yet to substantively address the ongoing trend of citing and arresting of homeless residents across LA. Moreover, the past week the police commission ruled the shooting of Skid Row resident Charly “Africa” Keunang “in policy.” The group maintains that in order to make a homeless plan truly “comprehensive,” the City should include a component that ends criminalization – similar to the LA County Board of Supervisors draft plan, which contains a policy recommendation that calls for an end to policies that make it illegal to be homeless.


Skid Row Resident on Impacts of Criminalization

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2016 by Cangress
A Skid Row Resident asked us to share her story about what criminalization is really about and how it punishes people for being poor and without a home.
Shelly also brings up an important point about the myth of homeless people being “service resistant.” If it’s LAPD offering an ultimatum – shelter or jail, it is not outreach or help, it’s coercion masked as options.
This is exactly the kind of situation that erodes residents’ trust in government and service providers. And this is exactly why any homeless plan MUST include an end to the failed policy of managing street homelessness with the enforcement of quality-of-life crimes.
This sort of approach is NOT about public safety – it is about punishing homeless people for the failed housing and social safety net policies and mismanaged budget priorities of elected officials.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Herb J. Wesson, Jr., Jose Huizar, Mike Bonin , Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Gil Cedillo, Curren D. Price, Jr. and other City Councilmembers can do something about this – TODAY. But will they muster up the political will and courage to do so?

Community Members Outraged as LAPD Commission Finds Officers Shooting and Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang “in Policy”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3, 2016 by Cangress

Press Release | For Immediate Release
February 2, 2016
Pete White, LA CAN 213-434-1594 | Hamid Khan, STOP LAPD Spying at 562-230-4578

Community Members Outraged as LAPD Commission Finds Officers Shooting and Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang “in Policy”

Community members from Black Lives Matter-LA, Los Angeles Community Action Network and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and across LA are gathered at LAPD Headquarters vocalizing their outrage at the LAPD Police Commission finding that officers who shot and killed Charly “Africa” Keunang last March acted “in policy.” Keunang, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, was shot and killed by LAPD officers on March 1 in the Downtown LA neighborhood of Skid Row. The incident drew international attention after cell phone videos of the killing were viewed by millions.

Residents were surprised at today’s report back after various groups attempted for months to get information and updates on the investigation of the fatal shooting. The “closed session” hearing was actually kept under wraps until community members directly questioned Commission President Johnson about its presence on today’s agenda. He confirmed that it was in fact one of the topics being discussed.

“Africa’s” death occurred as communities in LA and across the country continue to grapple with the shootings of unarmed Black men. The attempts to paint him as a career criminal in pursuit of justifying his killing fell on deaf ears largely as the video spoke for itself. Additionally, in Skid Row (a 50 square block area) use-of-force and shootings of unarmed people far outpace any other area of Los Angeles. Keunang’s killing was also just one of a string of incidents last year involving LAPD fatally shooting homeless residents.

In August, the family of Keunang, represented by Hadsell, Stormer & Renick, filed a lawsuit against the City of LA for the wrongful death of the man known in Skid Row as “Africa.” However, residents and groups at the commission today have vowed to continue fighting for Justice for Keunang, which they connect to the broad trend of state sanctioned fatal violence used against primarily low-income, Black and Brown communities.

CA Senator Liu Introduces Legislation Aimed at Stopping Homeless Criminalization

Posted in civil rights on January 15, 2016 by Cangress


Press Release | For Immediate Release
Contact: Eric Ares 213.458.3909

Senator Carol Liu Introduces Legislation Protecting the Civil Rights of Homeless Individuals

Sacramento. California State Senator Carol Liu (D – La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced a new bill designed to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness. SB 876 prohibits law enforcement from arresting or ticketing people for resting, eating, or practicing religion in public spaces.

According to Senator Liu, “this bill is intended to ensure equal rights for the homeless. It’s time to address poverty, mental health, and the plight of the homeless head-on as a social issue and not a criminal issue. Citing the homeless for simply resting in a public space creates a criminal record that can lead to rejection for jobs, education loans, and housing and further block their pathway out of poverty,” she added.

According to a 2015 report by the UC Berkeley School of Law Policy Advocacy Clinic, the number of anti-homeless laws passed by California municipalities has risen sharply in recent years. In total, the 58 cities researched in the study have enacted at least 500 anti-homeless laws – nearly nine laws per city on average.

Recently announced efforts to combat homelessness include California State Senate President Pro Tempore, Kevin de León’s bi-partisan “No Place Like Home” initiative, which would provide 2 billion dollars for cities to build permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Coupling housing with treatment for mental illness and other wrap-around support services provides a long-term, sustainable solution to homelessness. However, funding for housing and wrap-around services is just one piece of a multi-pronged strategy that must also include putting an end to criminalizing the homeless.

“We applaud sincere efforts to build more permanent supportive housing, but no plan or strategy to end homelessness is complete without ceasing the failed policies that ticket or jail people for sleeping, eating, or sitting in public when they have no other place to go,” says Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which coordinates the coalition of 140 organizations across the state that are supporting SB 876. “Even if we get new money to build the housing we critically need, it will take time to develop those units and house people. Cities cannot continue to make illegal the basic life-sustaining activities of people who have no other choice but to live in public.”

The growing rate at which cities are criminalizing homelessness is not unique to California. Rather, it reflects a national trend in practices that are increasingly being challenged in federal courts. In December 2015, a federal judge suspended a Ft. Lauderdale law banning public food sharing after a 90-year old resident was arrested twice for serving meals to homeless individuals.

“SB 876 is consistent with the federal government’s condemnation of practices that criminalize homelessness and violate their civil rights,” said Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “Under this bill, we hope communities will apply their resources to develop housing and other services for the homeless. Such strategies are less expensive and more successful at ending homelessness than criminalization; a practice the U.S. Department of Justice has said is unconstitutional.”


Changes in Leadership and Becky’s Transition

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2015 by Cangress


Since 1999 the Los Angeles Community Action Network has been a leading voice and force in the fight against inequality, civil rights violations, and housing and food insecurity in Downtown Los Angeles, South LA, and beyond. What began as a committee of 25 Skid Row residents coming together to address problems related to the emerging gentrification of Downtown LA has grown into an internationally recognized organization that develops leadership amongst extremely low-income and homeless communities to create concrete, positive changes rooted in social justice and placing the voices of those experiencing poverty and oppression at the forefront of decision making processes.

Ever proud of the leadership we have developed and committed to further building upon our model of shared leadership and responsibility, we announce that Becky Dennison will be transitioning out of her role as Co-Director at the end of 2015.  Among the many opportunities that organizational change creates, this opens up exciting new roles for other LA CAN leaders as well as an opportunity for Becky to continue her fight for justice and human rights through new endeavors and the LA CAN Board of Directors, which she will join in January.

A message from Becky:
“For the past 15 years, it has been my absolute honor and privilege to work alongside teams of the most talented and committed people I have ever met.  From the beginning, LA CAN focused on building a broad base of leaders who work collectively to create change that promotes justice and equity by challenging institutions that perpetuate exclusion, displacement, and poverty.  We have always operated from the belief that building transformational power requires the people most impacted to have meaningful leadership and that shared power and leadership creates more of it.

This is how we grew from three people sharing a cubicle to breaking ground this year on our permanent home, the LA CAN Justice & Wellness Center, and this is how our work will continue.  I am entering this transition feeling totally energized and ready to fight for social justice and I’ve felt like that every day I’ve been here – which makes me so lucky to have been a part of building LA CAN and our communities.  I thank all of you who have contributed to LA CAN’s numerous achievements and I look forward to working with you in the future as we continue to organize and fight for a better community, society, and world.”

When we started LA CAN, it was paramount that we build an organization that reflected our vision of inclusion, collective power, and leadership development among those most often excluded or overlooked. With the immeasurable contributions and the unrelenting commitment of Becky, we were able to do just that – create an institution that embodies the will and spirit of our communities.  So while we of course announce Becky’s transition with some feelings of sadness and loss, we are more confident than ever that our leadership team will continue to carry on the critical work she helped make possible into 2016 and beyond.

In struggle and power,
Pete White, Executive Director
Alan Green, Board Chair

November/December 2015 Community Connection NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2015 by Cangress


Click HERE to read the November/December 2015 Community Connection

Over 120 Organizations and Civic Leaders Respond to Homeless “State of Emergency” Announcement: Stop the Criminalization and Create Real, Permanent Solutions

Posted in civil rights with tags , , , on October 14, 2015 by Cangress

Logos for Sign Ons

Open letter to Mayor Garcetti and LA City Council Regarding the Homeless “State of Emergency” Declaration

We write you in response to the recent declaration of a homeless “state of emergency” in Los Angeles and an announcement of a $100 million investment towards homeless services and housing. While we welcome the call for more resources for solutions to homelessness, this must translate into substantial, long-term sources of funding and, equally important, an end to the failed policy of criminalizing the lives of homeless residents through laws and enforcement that punish people for being poor and only make it more difficult for someone to get out of homelessness.

The homeless “state of emergency” did not create itself. The City has invested hundreds of millions dollars to address homelessness in the past several years, but the large majority of that money has gone to the Los Angeles Police Department to cite, arrest and otherwise police people who need resources, not fines and jail time. Just last year, according to Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, $87 million of the $100 million that went toward addressing homelessness out of the City’s general fund was spent on LAPD arrests of homeless people. This is not only an inhumane strategy, it is a wasteful and ineffective one as well. Many of you now seem to agree, which we welcome. Mayor Garcetti has called criminalization efforts “pennywise pound foolish.” We were encouraged that Councilmember Huizar also joined us in saying that “this approach to homelessness has failed” and that “we can’t ignore the problem, and we can’t arrest our way out of it.”

Only $13 million in one-time funds have been identified with no real plan of how you all will get the additional $87 million or ensure long-term investments to really impact the homeless crisis. This must happen immediately if your constituents are to believe this announcement is a real commitment to change. Additionally, increases in financial resources towards this crisis will only work if the City abandons what has been its primary approach toward homelessness over the past decade: criminalizing the lives of homeless residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now requiring that localities have a proactive plan to prevent the criminalization of homelessness or federal funds will be at risk. The time is now. The City can and must redirect millions of dollars towards housing and services and create an environment to ensure homeless residents are not criminalized or penalized for life-sustaining activities.

As Councilmember Bonin recently stated, the City needs to “get out of this cycle we’ve been in of trying to enforce against people who have no alternative.” To this end, in order to adequately address the homeless “state of emergency” with a plan for long-term, dedicated resources, we call on you to do the following:

1. Identify long-term, sustained sources of local funding totaling at least $100 million per year and dedicate the large majority of those resources toward new permanent supportive housing units.

2. End all “quality-of-life” and “Safer Cities” enforcement against homeless residents, including, but not limited to:

a. Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and I, and 41.18D.
b. Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.

3. Provide emergency public health resources to people living on the streets without major investment in infrastructure, including mobile restrooms and showers, mobile health and mental health services, and voluntary storage facilities.

At the announcement, City Council President Wesson declared, “Today, we step away from the insanity of doing the same thing and hoping for different results, and instead chart our way to ending homelessness.” Announcing a goal of $100 million is a start. Words that acknowledge the failed policy of criminalization are promising. But if the City is to truly achieve different results, we need your leadership to ensure $100 million per year is identified and spent on housing and public health solutions and finally step away from policing as a strategy to address homelessness. We have the solutions and the City has the financial resources, we now need sustained political action.


Alliance of White Anti-Racist Everywhere – Los Angeles
AME Church Ministerial Alliance of Southern California
Anti-Racist Action LA
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Black/Jewish Alliance
Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
California Partnership
Center for Media Justice
Church Without Walls
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Congregation Kol Ami
Courage Campaign
Dignity and Power Now
Drug Policy Alliance
DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving
East LA Community Corporation
Esperanza Community Housing
First To Serve, Inc.
Global Women’s Strike
Housing Works
Hunger Action LA
Inquilinos Unidos
Inner City Law Center
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Justice Not Jails
Labor/Community Strategy Center
Legal Advocacy Project
Living Word Community Church
Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign
Los Angeles Catholic Worker/Hippie Kitchen
Los Angeles Black Worker Center
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
Los Angeles Poverty Department
Los Angeles Tenants Union / Sindicato de Inquilinos de Los
Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
A New Way of Life
Occupy Venice
People Organizing for Westside Renewal (POWER)
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA)
Progressive Christians Uniting
Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission
Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Los Angeles
Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Skid Row Housing Trust
South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles
Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
St. Mary’s Center
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
Thai Community Development Center
Topanga Peace Alliance
Trust South LA
Union de Vecinos
United Homeless Healthcare Partners
Venice Community Housing Corporation
Venice Justice Committee
Voice of My People Foundation
Wesley Health Centers & JWCH Institute
Western Center on Law and Poverty
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (W.O.R.K.S.)
Youth Justice Coalition

Individuals (Organizational Affiliation for Identification Purposes Only)

Aminah Abdul-Jabbaar, Filmmaker and Professor, CSULA
Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor, CSULA & Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles
Professor Jody Armour, Roy Crocker Professor of Law, USC
Akilah Bakeer, Social Worker
Larry Aubry, Journalist, ABSA, BCCLA
Gary Blasi, Attorney at Law,Professor of Law Emeritus, UCLA
Margo Bouchet, Attorney at Law
Jordan T. Camp, Postdoctoral Fellow Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America (CSREA)
Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Journalist
Chuck D, Public Enemy
Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate and co-founder Hip Hop National Political Convention
Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder Black Lives Matter
Michael Datcher, Author and Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Ralph D. Fertig , ACSW Federal Admin. Judge (Ret.) Professor, USC School of Social Work
Regina Freer, Professor, Occidental College
Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
Jonathan Gomez, Artist
Nana Gyamfi, Attorney at Law
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Film and Television Director
Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock, Professor, US
Phyllis Jackson, PhD, Associate Professor, Pomona College
Dr. Angela James, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Gaye Theresa Johnson, Associate Professor, UCLA
Erin Aubry Kaplan, Journalist
Rev. Peter Laarman, Coordinator, Justice Not Jails
Dr. Libby Lewis, Adjunct Professor, UCLA
Professor George Lipsitz, Professor, UCSB
Lynn Martinez, Attorney at Law
Diane Middleton, Diane Middleton Foundation
Dena Montague, Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSB
Marilyn Montenegro, PhD., Coordinator NASW Women’s Council Prison Project
Maegan Ortiz, IDEPSCA
Jose M. Paez, Professor, CSUN
Yasser Arafat Payne, Ph.D.Associate Professor, University of Delaware
Kevin Powell, Author and Journalist
Margaret Prescod, Global Women’s Strike
Vivian Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor, CSUDH
John Raphling, Attorney at Law
Dr. Anthony Ratcliff, Professor, CSULA
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
Dr. Boris Ricks, Professor, CSUN
Cynthia Ruffin, Downtown Women’s Action Coalition/Liberation Artist/Revolutionary Angel
Rev. Dr. Roslyn Satchel, Minister, Attorney and Community Activist
Aqeela Sherrills, Organizer and Peace Activist, Watts, CA
Mark Simon, Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Carol Sobel, Civil Rights Attorney
Dan Stormer, Attorney at Law
Alan Sutton, The Louise Sutton Kindness for All Foundation
Dave Wagner, Professor, University of Southern Maine
John Walton Senterfitt, PhD, RN Epidemiologist and Ethicist, L. A. County Dept. of Public Health
Goetz Wolff , Immediate Past President, UC-AFT 1990