Protesting racist Safer Cities policing in Skid Row and it’s expansion to Venice
As Councilmember Bill Rosenthal calls for an SCI expansion to invade Venice Beach, residents from downtown and Venice align forces to stop all SCI policing.
The Safer Cities Initiative, still very much active in Skid Row, recently passed its 4th Anniversary with still no intervention to stop it from any elected officials. In years past there were huge press conferences in select venues with every local political opportunist fighting for their minute on the microphone. This, of course, was accompanied by degrading media coverage that portrayed poor, mostly Black, residents as animals that were unfit to live, and, who deserved exactly the type of treatment they were getting. And this was always placed in juxtaposition to a new and emerging, White, downtown-playground waiting for those who could pay to play.
From day-one most residents decried the racist policing being thrust upon them in violent and unforgiving ways. The oppressive nature of SCI made some people run and hide for cover but few, if any, were able to be untouched by its wide net. At the same time many residents believed the only way to stop SCI was to fight it head-on, organize resistance, and take public action to add allies in opposition to this “Jim Crow” throwback policing.
This year there was no SCI luncheon held in the Biltmore Hotel; no regal press briefing held by the Mayor, Chief of Police, Central City Association, or the throngs of council people masquerading as “progressive.” There was, however, still the growing group of residents and supporters demanding an end to SCI in downtown, and fighting to stop it before it reaches Venice.
This year’s action entitled, “The Triple Block Bonanza,” used street theater, community education, and direct action to highlight the realities faced by those unfortunate enough to have to deal with SCI. In the morning, there was a lively march to police headquarters, where we occupied their space as they have been occupying ours. We also delivered over 3,500 signatures from downtown residents and businesses who oppose SCI. In the afternoon, we reclaimed space on Towne Street, where police have recently been targeting free food providers to intimidate them out of the area. The City’s goals remain clear – homeless and poor people should be criminalized until they leave downtown and, now, the people who provide basic necessities to the community should leave too. But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere!