Archive for civil rights

Human Rights Victory Today – A Win against City of LA’s Continued Efforts to Criminalize Homelessness instead of Ending It

Posted in civil rights, Homeless Bill of Rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2014 by Cangress

Today, the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals overturned a prior lower court decision and ruled that LA Municipal Code Section 85.02 (which prohibits living/sleeping in a vehicle) is an unconstitutionally vague statute and opens the door to discriminatory enforcement against the homeless and the poor.  The Court’s decision states, “Plaintiffs argue that Section 85.02 is unconstitutionally vague on its face because it provides insufficient notice of the conduct it penalizes and promotes arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.  We agree.”

This important case was litigated by Civil Rights Attorney Carol Sobel, with co-counsel by Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and homeless individuals who were impacted by Section 85.02 enforcement by LAPD.  Several community-based organizations fighting against criminalization and forced displacement in Venice and across the City supported this case as well.  This fight is crucial to upholding the human rights of everyone, of ensuring homeless and poor people have full and equal access to public spaces, and – for those that do have vehicles but have no current access to housing – ensures at least some shelter and safety protections over sleeping on the streets.

California and Los Angeles should enact Homeless Bills of Rights to protect the civil rights of homeless residents, seriously invest in housing solutions, and stop expensive and inhumane criminalization efforts.  Segregation and criminalization of public space cannot continue and this victory is one step toward that.  To get involved in local and statewide campaigns, contact Eric or Dogon at LA CAN, and/or attend the next LA-region Homeless Bill of Rights meeting on Thursday, June 26th at 6:00 PM at LA CAN (838 E. 6th Street, LA 90021).

The full court decision can be read here:  9th circuit DECISION June 2014

COURT APPROVES $1.5 MILLION HUNTINGTON HOTEL LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

Posted in press release with tags , , , on November 15, 2013 by Cangress

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 15, 2013) — The Honorable Richard Rico of the Los Angeles Superior Court approved a $1.5 million settlement of a lawsuit brought against the owners of the Huntington Hotel in downtown Los Angeles today. The lawsuit was brought by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) and Steptoe & Johnson LLP, on behalf of three individual tenants and the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a community based organization. The lawsuit was based on the unlawful displacement of at least 60 tenants living in a historical building downtown, in the throes of gentrification.  The tenants alleged that after an ownership change, they were subjected to illegal rent increases, discrimination, harassment and retaliation as the owner attempted to force them out while circumventing statutory tenant protections.  All of the individual plaintiffs represented by LAFLA were elderly and/or persons with disabilities. Many became homeless after leaving the Huntington.

The $1.5 million settlement includes monetary relief for individual plaintiffs’ emotional distress and statutory damages, for LA CAN’s lost resources, a relocation fund for other displaced Huntington tenants, and attorneys’ fees and costs. “It is very difficult to put a monetary value on the cost of being rendered homeless, like so many tenants were,” stated Barbara Schultz, attorney for the plaintiffs. “But at least individual plaintiffs can now afford to improve their living situation, and other displaced tenants are eligible for the pool of relocation funds.”

During the course of the litigation, filed December 2011, the plaintiffs won three preliminary injunctions, based on the legal rental amounts of the units, disability and source of income discrimination, and the right of one individual tenant to return to her unit after an unlawful eviction. “The Huntington Hotel tenants endured some of the worst conditions in the City for years, and then got illegally pushed out as the conditions finally improved. The settlement creates a means to compensate dozens of tenants for this harm, though the City and other regulators must do more upfront to prevent these things from happening at all,” said Becky Dennison, Co-Executive Director of LA CAN.

LAFLA will be honoring Steptoe & Johnson LLP at their Access to Justice Dinner on December 3, 2013 for their laudable pro bono assistance on this case. Find more information at: http://www.lafla.org/access.php.

CONTACTS:

Barbara Schultz, Esq. – Legal Aid Foundation of Law Angeles 213.640.3826
John Swenson, Esq.- Steptoe & Johnson LLP 213.439.9424
Becky Dennison – Los Angeles Community Action Network 213.840.4664

Discriminatory Enforcement on Main Street Hits a New Low — Sitting in Your Own Wheelchair No Longer Allowed??!!

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, photos, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 5, 2013 by Cangress

This morning, LA CAN observed LAPD Officer Janata telling three longtime Skid Row residents who were near the corner of 5th and Main that they could not be on the sidewalk and had to leave.  He told them they were not allowed to sit on the sidewalk between 6 am and 9 pm.  These three men were sitting down – but in their own wheelchairs!  At one point, 2 private security guards and 7 officers were on scene in response to …… no crime at all.  This over-response of law enforcement lasted about 30 minutes – all because 3 low-income Black men defended their rights and were not going to be scared off just because security guards and LAPD wrongfully told them they had to move.  Finally, an LAPD Sergeant arrived who upheld the actual law and informed the men that they could remain on the sidewalk as long as they were not blocking foot traffic or any doors.  However, the Sergeant would not respond to a complaint by an LA CAN member on site that Officer Janata had said the exact opposite.  In fact, Sgt. Ramirez said that technically the men were violating the law by sitting down (LAMC 41.18d), but of course they would “let” them sit in their wheelchairs if they had to.  No matter the amount of security and police, low-income people of color will continue to resist the oppression and enjoy public space in Downtown LA.

At least 7 cops respond to 3 men in wheelchairs who committed no crime

After Dozens of Human Rights Defenders Shut Out by Public Officials Yesterday, Unjust Trial of Deborah Burton Started Today

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing, photos, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 27, 2013 by Cangress

On Tuesday morning, June 25, dozens of human rights defenders gathered in front of LAPD Headquarters in the early hours to again demand that Police Commissioners investigate the evidence submitted in the case against LA CAN organizer Deborah Burton, and later to deliver signed petitions to the City Attorney to demand he drop this case.

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(see past blog posts for more details:  https://cangress.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/cbs-2-protestors-demand-lapd-investigate-charges-against-community-organizer/ and https://cangress.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/deborah-burtons-trial-expected-in-late-april-these-unjust-charges-should-be-dropped/)

LAPD officers refused to let the large majority of our group into the Commission hearing room, though there were many empty chairs.  LAPD then lined the door to City Hall East and refused to let people in the public building to make a request to deliver the petitions to the City Attorney’s office.

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Though City officials who could have intervened to stop these ridiculous and unsubstantiated charges from going forward did nothing but hide from the truth, Deborah and all of her supporters stood confident and tall this morning as trial proceedings begin.  We know the truth is on our side, but we also too deeply understand the criminal in-justice system’s impacts on people of color.  We remain hopeful that justice will prevail.

Contact beckyd@cangress.org to help with court support.  Below, Frank Stoltze of KPCC interviews Deborah about the case.

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STOP LAPD SPYING Community Townhall! Saturday, January 19th at 2pm at Chuco’s Justice Center!

Posted in Stop LAPD Spying with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Cangress

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The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition invites you to a Community Townhall on Saturday January 19th, 2013 at 2PM at Chuco’s Justice Center. The “War at Home” has been going on for far too long on our collective human rights.

Click HERE to RSVP on the Community Townhall Facebook Event Page.

Everyday new surveillance and spying policies are assaulting our civil liberties, invading our privacy, and wasting public resources. For over a year and a half, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition has been building diverse grassroots campaign to build public awareness, participation, mobilization and action. The coalition has engaged in broad community outreach, conducted clear analysis and confronted both the perpetrators of state violence like the LAPD and their supporters in the civil rights community who have betrayed our communities by being the mouthpieces of LAPD.

Our vision is the dismantling of government-sanctioned spying and intelligence gathering, in all its multiple forms. Together we build a movement that is intersectional to the core on issues, experiences, demographics and resources.

Start spreading the word, Saturday Jan 19th at 2 PM. Chuco’s Justice Center – 1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90302.

Will We Sleep or Will We Fight?!?!

Click HERE to view and download an English color version of the event flyer.
Click HERE to view and download an English black and white version of the event flyer.

Click HERE to view and download a Spanish color version of the event flyer.
Click HERE to view and download a Spanish black and white version of the event flyer.

The December 2012/January 2013 Community Connection is NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in community connection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by Cangress

Dec12 Jan13 CC Cover

Click on the Photo above to read the December 2012/January 2013.

You can also view a high resolution PDF version HERE.

LA CAN Concludes 7-Day Siege at the CCA Headquarters

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, organizing, photos, press coverage, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by Cangress

On Monday, June 4th, LA CAN concluded its 7-Day siege at the Headquarters of the Central City Association with marches, rallying cries and a clear message: “CCA, YOUR COPS WON’T SCARE US AWAY!”

Over the past decade, the CCA, the power business lobby in Downtown LA, has been one of the strongest advocates for increased policing and the criminalization of homelessness and poverty downtown. This has made them one of the major foes of poor and homeless residents who have been fighting to preserve their right to exist in a community that many have called home long before the lofts and art galleries that now line Spring and Main.

This most recent action was planned and executed by LA CAN, Occupy LA, and Occupy the Hood L.A. in response to CCA’s successful push to get LAPD to add 50 additional officers to downtown. This is on top of the over 100 uniformed and undercover cops that came to Skid Row in 2006 as part of the Safer Cities Initiative, which was backed heavily by the CCA.

For 7 straight days and nights, over 50 folks camped out in from the the CCA offices located at 626Wilshire Blvd. In the mornings, the groups rallied, passed out fliers to people on their way to work, and maintained a continual visual presence that let CCA know that residents of downtown will not stand idly by as big business and the LAPD attempts to remove their civil and human rights.

For more photos of the action, you can view a slideshow HERE.