Archive for downtown los angeles

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


UNACCEPTABLE: Councilmember Huizar creates a Pershing Square Task Force that doesn’t include any low-income residents

Posted in human & civil rights, organizing with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Cangress

LA CAN at Pershing Square promoting the Share the Wealth Platform and making sure that the park remains public and open to EVERYONE.

This week 14th District City Councilmember José Huizar created a Pershing Square Task Force without any representation of low-income Downtown residents, who have utilized Pershing Square for decades. Rather than creating a body that is representative of the broad diversity of Downtown, Huizar chose to create a 21-member Task Force of “stakeholders” that draws nearly exclusively from the business and developer community (and a few others from law enforcement and other city departments).

Huizar had this to say: “We have a huge task ahead of us, but it’s an open one.” It’s hard to believe that the task of creating a long-term plan for the park will be open when those in charge of creating the plan exclude the voice of a significant segment of Downtown – low-income and homeless residents.  LA CAN members had requested directly of Huizar’s staff to be included on this task force, as Pershing Square represents limited open space that has been a resource for both low-income and higher income downtowners.

The composition of this task force is unacceptable. As part of promoting our Share the Wealth Platform, LA CAN has been working for months to ensure that Pershing Square remains open to NOT just the so-called “New Downtowners”, but ALL Downtown residents. Huizar is relatively new to representing all of Downtown, but by now he should know that he is supposed to know that he represents all of the community’s residents – not just developers who are intent on gentrifying the neighborhood.

Members of the task force are:
Kevin Regan, Recreation and Parks.
Mathew Rudnick, Department of Cultural Affairs.
Nick Maricich, Planning Department.
Captain Horace Frank, LAPD.
Mike Arnold, Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority.
Amy Yeager, Pershing Square Advisory Board.
Dawn Eastin, Downtown News.
Blair Besten, Historic Downtown BID.
Sean Krajewski,  Blue Cow Restaurant GM.
Carol Schatz, CCA, Downtown BID.
Peklar Pilavjian, St. Vincent’s Jewelry Center.
Karen Hathaway, LA Athletic Club.
Siobhan Talbot, Brookfield.
Jeffery Fish, Pershing Square Building.
Chris Rising, Rising Realty.
Robert Hanasab, City National Building.
Brian Glodney, Gensler.
Rick Poulos, NBBJ.
Katherine Perez-Estolano, USC.
Melani Smith, Melendrez Design Partners.
Gail Goldberg, ULI.


Deborah Burton Not Guilty on All Charges!

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2013 by Cangress

Jurors reported afterward that they did not find Estela Lopez of the CCEA or LAPD Lieutenant Shannon Paulson to be credible witnesses

We hope July 11 ends the years of targeted efforts by the LAPD and LA’s City Attorney to criminalize organizing, dissent and public protest by LA CAN and dozens of other organizations across Los Angeles.  We know the tactic of criminalizing political movements goes well into our history and well beyond Los Angeles – but yesterday marked a key victory in preventing these attacks on those working for justice.

Yesterday afternoon, a jury found Deborah Burton not guilty on 8 charges of assault and battery, including the “lesser charges” the City Attorney was able to include in the jury instructions.  These unjust charges stemmed from a legal protest of the Central City East Association’s public safety walk in June 2011.  Charges were filed in August 2012 and Deborah has shouldered this burden on behalf of LA CAN and the social justice movement in Los Angeles since then.  She stood strong and firm, and truth and justice prevailed!

LA CAN is proud to have Deborah as a long time member and organizer – she continues to demonstrate on a daily basis what commitment, dedication, compassion and bravery look like as she works to defend and promote human rights in Downtown and South LA.  We thank all of our members, staff, Board, community partners, and others who supported us leading up to and during this case.  We express deepest gratitude to John Raphling, who defended Deborah and continues to provide much needed legal representation to community organizers and activists in Los Angeles.

We are all Deborah Burton!  And we are all NOT GUILTY!

group picture after verdict

See community partner’s perspective at NESRI’s blog HERE.

Visit past blog posts for more information on this case – such as HERE and HERE.

Victory for Homeless People and Those Who Believe in Civil Rights for ALL — Two Court Decisions Deny City’s Ongoing Attempts to Seize Property

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2013 by Cangress

Last Monday, June 17, US District Judge Gutierrez denied the City of LA’s application to modify the preliminary injunction he issued in June 2011.  Among many findings in his ruling, the denial stated,

“However, as the City has not shown a change in law or fact that would warrant modifying the language of the injunction, the Court is not persuaded that the alternate proposed modification is appropriate. Further, Defendant has submitted no evidence of a problem with individuals failing to move their property during a noticed cleaning operation.”

The LAPD and the City Attorney, with loud and public urging by the business community, have inexplicably been fighting this injunction since it was issued – failing at every level.  This Monday, June 24, the Supreme Court denied hearing their appeal, allowing the injunction to stand.  We are pleased to see the City’s unjust efforts continue to be denied by the courts.

LA CAN hopes the City, and especially our new City Attorney, will stop these wasteful and mean-spirited attempts to assert that homeless people simply don’t have the same constitutional rights as those who are housed.  Instead of fighting injunctions protecting people’s most basic rights, the City should focus on housing and public health solutions that have been proven effective.

LA CAN members will continue their organizing efforts to promote the human right to housing while also protecting homeless people’s rights until there is housing for all.  We will also work to end the Safer Cities Initiative, which criminalizes homelessness and poverty in Skid Row and was the original source of the illegal property destruction.

Read the LA Times coverage here:,0,7106702.story

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.

STOP TREATING US LIKE TRASH! Public Housing Residents Present HACLA with Over 1,000 Postcards Demanding an End to Unjust Trash Fees

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by Cangress

On March 21st, 2012, LA Human Right to Housing Collective members, representing 8 of the City’s 14 public housing developments, filed suit against the Housing Authority for refusing to reimburse them for years of unjust trash fees. Under federal regulations, the residents should receive a rent credit for the fees.  The suit is currently in mediation.

Lucia Postcards

That is why on November 29th, the Collective’s Public Housing Committee’s members arrived at a packed Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Meeting to make clear that although the legal process is moving at a snail’s pace, the residents are not sitting idly by but are instead taking advantage of the extra time to engage their neighbors in the campaign to end the trash fees.  By going door to door in their neighborhoods, Collective members obtained over 1,000 postcards and an equal amount of momentum for the campaign within several short weeks.  “We respect your rules, and our neighbors, we expect you to respect our rights” testified Francisco Estrada before the commission as his Pueblo del Rio neighbor Lucia Sanchez held the stack of postcards high and proud. “The real power in our presence is with the 1,000 more residents who stand with us today,” said Lucia.

Postcards Jpeg

While we await the outcome of the lawsuit, the Collective will continue to engage more residents and allies.  Next week we will be at City Hall, presenting the Mayor and the Council with the postcards and asking for their support in bringing an end to the trash fees.

Press Release: Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act Introduced to Assembly

Posted in press release with tags , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2012 by Cangress

Press release 12.3

Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act Introduced to Assembly
CONTACT: Paul Boden
Western Regional Advocacy Project
(415) 621-2533

DECEMBER 1—A coalition of West Coast poor people’s organizations is working with Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) to introduce a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act on December 3.

In June, Rhode Island became the first state to pass a statewide homeless people’s bill of rights. Building off of the community organizing that led to this success, homeless people’s organizations around the country have been working on similar bills.

California’s is the first bill since Rhode Island’s to be introduced to a state legislature. “California has a long history of using discriminatory laws to keep ‘undesirable’ people out of public places and to hide our bigger social problems. From the Ugly Laws of the mid-19th century—which made it a crime to have a visible disability in public—through the anti-Okie law of the Great Depression—which made it a crime for poor people to enter the state—up through the present, both state and local governments have used these laws to punish or conceal poor people,” said Paul Boden, Organizing Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “But as long as these laws have existed, there’s been resistance. Every single one of those laws has been struck down. We’re introducing this bill of rights because we believe that the time has come to address the wrongs and most importantly stop them from ever happening again.”

The effort is a collaboration between WRAP, Jericho: A Voice for Justice, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Judith Larson of Jericho said, “This is the essence of what Jericho was formed to do, and has continued to do for the past 25 years.”

WRAP has conducted over 800 surveys concerning homeless people’s interactions with law enforcement. 82% of survey respondents had been hassled by law enforcement for sleeping. 78% had had interactions with law enforcement simply because they’d been hanging out in a public space. 77% had been harassed by law enforcement for sitting down. Becky Dennison, Co-Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said, “When we’ve criminalized sleeping, standing, and sitting down, we’ve basically criminalized a person’s existence. A bill like this is long overdue.“

The Act would guarantee homeless people freedom from discrimination in law enforcement, employment, housing and shelter, and public benefits. It protects people’s right to use public space, to keep personal property, and to engage in life-sustaining activities. It also guarantees people the right to counsel in any case where they’re being prosecuted. Paula Lomazzi from Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee said, “These are basic rights that allow all people to stay alive and engage in a democratic society—things most of us get to take for granted, but which remain a daily challenge for many of the poorest members of our communities.”


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