Archive for Eric Garcetti

10-12 LAPD Officers Tase, Fire Bean Bags at Man in Wheel Chair in DTLA

Posted in civil rights, video with tags , , , on July 21, 2015 by Cangress

In a manner that appears consistent with the ongoing trends of the Los Angeles Police Department using excessive force on low-income and/or houseless primarily Black residents, LAPD officers shot bean bags, tased, and then wrestled to the ground a wheelchair-bound man at or around 7:30am on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Eye witness, cell phone video footage from the shooting – recently acquired by the Los Angeles Community Action Network – appears to show a standoff (really a “sit-off”) between the man and at least 10 -12 LAPD officers. About 30 seconds into the clip, the unidentified man, who is clearly distressed and shouting at the officers, is shot twice. Then MANY seconds after, officers shoot the man again and gang tackle the man to the ground commencing to tasing him. Despite several requests, the identity of the man, nor his charges, have been released.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest of a similar string of incidents involving escalated use of force on the part of LAPD. And while this shooting thankfully did not result in another dead resident, it is important to note that this is indicative of the type of escalated policing that low-income residents, particularly in gentrifying communities, have been experiencing in recent weeks (and months, in some cases). It also represents the problem with the rhetoric around the emphasis on de-escalation training that the LAPD has been pushing in the media recently. No matter what this man was doing that resulted in a call to the police, at the time of the incident it is clear in video that the man was not an immediate threat. So why was it necessary to shoot him three times with bean bags? Why was it necessary to tase him? Why was it necessary that a horde of officers were needed to violently wrestle down a man in a wheel chair? The man did appear to be upset and was shouting. Would this have been a situation better served by the Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART) versus a gang of officers? How much would de-escalation training matter if there are so many officers on hand for such an incident?

So, why were there so many officers called to the scene? In the past two weeks, LA CAN Community Watch teams have documented law enforcement citing and arresting homeless and low-income individuals in mass. Probation officers, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, LAPD – all have been actively patrolling the streets of Downtown LA (particularly in Skid Row) and aggressively enforcing so-called quality-of-life citations and warrants for these non-violent offenses, like illegally lodging on public property and or sitting/lying on the street. Ironically, this comes just two weeks after community residents demanded that Eric Garcetti veto changes to LA Municipal Codes 56.11 and 63.44, which were passed by City Council under the arguments that they would be used to stop illegal encampments. Low-income and homeless residents argued that these changes were largely unnecessary (as existing laws could be enforced to stop illegal encampments) and that these would just be used to further criminalize and punish residents simply for being poor. And we see that now.

The bottom line is this: No amount of training will help when the problem has to do with the oversaturation of police and a seemingly limitless budget to put officers on the street and enforce largely non-violent crimes. This is a culture and tradition of abuse, force and extermination of
“undesirable” people fully supported by the Mayor Garcetti, Chief Charlie Beck, and the Los Angeles City Council. We say HOUSING FOR EVERY Angeleno and they say ENFORCEMENT, DEATH and EXCUSES.

Updated: Open Letter from Skid Row Leaders to City of LA Electeds and LAPD #CANTKILLAFRICA #BLACKLIVESMATTER

Posted in #blacklivesmatter, #cantkillafrica with tags , , , on March 17, 2015 by Cangress

To add your organization to the letter, please contact Becky at 213.228.0024 | beckyd@cangress.org.

Link to PDF: http://bit.ly/1H3YZ0W

Open letter to City of LA elected officials, Los Angeles Police Department, public agencies, and others in Los Angeles

We write in sadness and anger at the killing of yet another unarmed man by the Los Angeles Police Department in the Skid Row community. As a predominately African American community, we also declare that #BlackLivesMatter, and view the killing of the man known as “Africa” as part of the growing crisis of law enforcement officers killing unarmed Black men in Los Angeles and across the nation.

We also write with a unified voice about the long-standing and systemic issues facing Skid Row that continue to lead to senseless and unjustified deaths and other injustices in our community.

We call on elected and public officials, and all other Angelinos, to invest in real and large-scale solutions to address homelessness and extreme poverty instead of the overconcentration of police officers as the main “solution” that residents have endured for the past 8 ½ years, after the 2006 launch of LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative brought between 50 and 110 additional officers into a 50-square block community.

There is no denying that LAPD officers shot and killed Africa, who was unarmed and by most accounts living with a mental illness. However, the death of Africa must also be seen within the context of institutional and policy failures that have perpetuated the problems of Skid Row for decades while not sufficiently investing in concrete solutions that would end homelessness and extreme poverty. We present five critical demands that need urgent attention and implementation by our local elected officials immediately.

1. Invest in housing at the scale needed to truly impact LA’s homeless crisis, including creating new local sources of funding, re-allocating existing resources to housing, and actively fighting for much-needed state and federal funding. A minimum of 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing are needed in the City of Los Angeles, yet in the past 8 years the City has produced only about 1,200 units (this number also includes rehabilitation of units previously home to other low-income people). At that pace, it would take at least 65 years to meet the need. Among new housing produced in the City, a significant increase in permanent supportive and other affordable housing is needed within Skid Row and greater Downtown LA. For example, over the past decade or so, tens of thousands of upscale units have been created but only about 800 new permanent supportive or affordable units have been constructed in that time.

2. End the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI) and remove all extra officers associated with SCI from the Skid Row community. The overconcentration of police create an environment of almost constant contact with officers among residents facing homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, or other health conditions that put them at extreme risk of harassment, citation, arrest, or violence by officers. The City must stop the practice of utilizing police as the main response to homelessness and instead invest in housing and other support services.

3. Expand the LAPD’s SMART teams (mental health professionals and non-uniformed officers) and create a dedicated SMART team to be deployed throughout the Skid Row community, within the existing LAPD budget. The prevalence of mental health issues in the Skid Row community is well known and documented, yet there is no SMART team assigned to our community and, in fact, there is no deployment of existing SMART teams to Skid Row. They work solely inside of Central Division, defeating the purpose of them helping to de-escalate situations and avoid arrests and unnecessary force by officers. Additionally, non-LAPD mental health experts should be funded and utilized as first responders within the community as much as possible.

4. Assign an independent prosecutor and/or a Department of Justice representative to investigate the officers who killed our community member known as Africa. LAPD should release all body camera footage, release the officers’ names and place them on unpaid leave until all internal and external investigations/prosecutions are completed, and conduct a full review of use-of-force policies that allow for lethal force on unarmed individuals.

5. Recognize and promote the community-level assets and expertise and local best practices in the Skid Row community and include Skid Row residents and their allies in all policy making and other decision making. Signatories of this letter have decades of experience and investment in the community and our expertise should be utilized and valued.

There are other contributing factors to extreme poverty and homelessness and other systemic problems in Skid Row. However, the extreme lack of housing and extreme over-policing are the most pressing issues today and, if not reversed, will continue to fuel more tragedies like the unnecessary and unjustified death of Africa. We envision a community with policies and resources that reflect the diversity, strength, needs and compassion of our residents. If our elected and public officials share this vision and truly care about Africa’s death, the human rights violations throughout Skid Row, and ending homelessness and poverty, they must take concrete steps to turn this vision into a reality. They can start by immediately implementing the above solutions.

Signed by Skid Row Organizations and Stakeholders:
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice – Los Angeles
Dignity and Power Now
Downtown Women’s Action Coalition
DramaStage Qumran
Homeless Health Care Los Angeles
Issues and Solutions
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Catholic Worker/Hippie Kitchen
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective
Los Angeles Poverty Department
United Coalition East Prevention Project

Pastor Cue, Church without Walls and Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Katherine McNenny, Skid Row Resident and Founder of Industrial District Green
Carol Sobel, Civil Rights Attorney representing dozens of Skid Row residents

Endorsed by Local, State and National Allies:
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA
AWARE-LA
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance
Black Lives Matter – LA
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
Hunger Action Los Angeles
Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)
Public Counsel
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Union de Vecinos
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS)

boona cheema, Founder of Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency
David Wagner, PhD, Professor, Author and National Expert on Homelessness


Open Letter to City of LA and LAPD from Skid Row Leaders

Join us THIS THURSDAY for Town Hall for Human Rights in Skid Row

Posted in human & civil rights with tags , , , on February 3, 2015 by Cangress

Town Hall FLYER

Join us for a Town Hall hosted by Skid Row residents and workers as we present the numerous projects, campaigns and community-based human rights initiatives taking place in our community. You’ll learn about what’s REALLY going on in Skid Row, how to support human rights projects and campaigns, and what we need from our policy makers. Click HERE to visit the Facebook Event Page.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 | 5:30pm – 7:30pm
James Wood Center 400 East 5th St. (Parking at Downtown Women’s Center)

WHY?
So that we can continue to live and thrive in OUR community. So that our innovation and achievements are not sidelined or misrepresented. So that our dignity is maintained and our contributions serve as the foundation while we continue to build our vision of Skid Row and DTLA.

WHO?
Panelists include representatives of the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition, LA CAN, Skid Row Housing Trust, AWARE-LA, UCEPP, Community Based Greening, Los Angeles Poverty Department, and individual residents Katherine McNenny, Tom Grode, General Jeff and many others.

CONFIRMED ATTENDEES: Councilmember Huizar, LA City Council; Greg Speigel, Office of Mayor Garcetti; Ben Polk, Office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis; LA City Department of Neighborhood Empowerment; LA City’s Housing and Community Investment Department; and more.

For More Information contact Steve at (213) 228-0024 or steved@cangress.org

Photos: LA CAN Announces Lawsuit Against City and LAPD

Posted in photos, press coverage with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Cangress

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Remembering Rampart, Remembering the Rebellion, Many Changes, Little Improvement

Posted in civic participation, civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on May 3, 2012 by Cangress

Written by Leonardo Vilchis and Becky Dennison, on behalf of the Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective (of which LA CAN is a member organization)

As so many reflected on the 1992 civil unrest last week, we heard stories of fundamental change in the LAPD and how conditions have changed so much within the City of LA since then. However, given the experiences in our communities in Downtown, South and East LA, we couldn’t disagree more. The fact that there have been changes does not mean that there have been improvements. Extreme poverty, lack of meaningful employment, a continuously growing housing and homelessness crisis, a deepening economic and social inequality, and continuing police abuse and racial profiling reflect the same conditions that spurred the uprising in 1992. At the same time we are still dealing with the self-righteous arrogance in LAPD that made Daryl Gates famous. Last week the Times reported that Chief Beck was giving only “conditional reprimands” to officers committing major violations, including unjustified police shootings (sound familiar?), causing discord among some Commissioners and the public. Yet, just one week later spurred by the 20-year anniversary, the same media outlets report on the supposed “changed” LAPD.

It is fitting, then, that the public meeting on the future of the Old Rampart Station also happened last week. The Old Rampart Station, a symbol of police abuse and arrogance, has been abandoned for the last 4 years and is a painful reminder of LAPD’s past that is worsened by the abandonment, neglect in and around the property, and a total disregard for the community that surrounds it. When the LA Human Right to Housing Collective chose the Old Rampart Station for its International Human Rights Day actions last December, it was selected as a symbolic representation of much that is wrong in the City of Los Angeles: the site of some of the worst and most pervasive police abuses in LA’s history; an abandoned and blighted City-owned property that could instead be used for human rights promoting purposes; the City’s budget priority of more than 50% of its budget going toward LAPD when housing, libraries, schools, parks, and other human rights programs are seeing devastating cuts; and the list could go on and on. The Housing Collective created a human rights camp that cold weekend in December to call attention to the abandonment and to demonstrate to the City and LAPD that this site should be used for community serving purposes. What is the city’s response? Rampart is planned to be the new headquarters for LAPD’s Metro Division, including SWAT.

There are two problems with the Metro/SWAT proposal. First, the community was unaware of these plans. There was no community input process in deciding what should happen at a space that holds such painful memories of crime and abuse. In fact, the LAPD representative at last week’s public meeting admitted there had been no community involvement, simply stating they weren’t required to do it. Second, what is the message sent by establishing a SWAT training ground in a community that was victimized and abused by the Police? The site will be turned into a militarized zone controlled by the police without providing any community services. The self-righteous arrogance of LAPD and the complicity of the city with its plans ignore the community’s needs and reaffirm the role of the police as an occupying force in Rampart. Certainly nothing has changed, and most definitely we see no improvement. The police plans and policies do not take into consideration community’s needs and desires.

Since January, local residents and other concerned Angelinos have been working to Reclaim Rampart – to ensure that community-serving purposes are included in any plans for the site and that the site is not solely used to house Metro Division, which will not serve the local community. Community members are also demanding transparency and more comprehensive public input as the City moves forward with its plans. The hearing was the first step, but much more work is needed by local residents, City Officials, and other concerned residents to be sure that LAPD is accountable to the community on this infamous site, and fully accountable to our communities across Los Angeles. That will be a change to welcome and a certain improvement for this community.