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

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.


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