Archive for Estela Lopez

Footage and Coverage of LA CAN Press Conference on LAPD Lawsuit

Posted in press coverage with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by Cangress
Yesterday morning in front of LAPD Headquarters the Los Angeles Community Action Network announced our lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, LAPD, and the Central City East Association because of their coordinated efforts to silence LA CAN, prevent us from exercising our first amendment rights, and their malicious acts that resulted in the wrongful prosecution of one of LA CAN’s longest term organizers, Deborah Burton.
Click HERE (or on the photo to the left) to read the Los Angeles Times article covering the announcement.

This lawsuit is a result of years of unfair and unjust targeting of LA CAN staff and members by LAPD, a long history of retaliation against us for fiercely and loudly opposing LAPD’s racist Safer Cities Initiative in Skid Row, and, more recently, their efforts to even more blatantly favor the Downtown business community’s position by stifling our right to protest and manufacturing charges against our staff.Through all of the attempts to criminalize us and silence us, LA CAN leaders and members remain unified and strong.  We will continue to organize, continue to protest when needed, and we are hopeful the federal courts will uphold our constitutional rights and direct the City and LAPD to change their tactics, since all efforts at engaging with City officials to stop the years of harassment have failed.

Click HERE to read the official LA CAN Press Conference Statement in its entirety.

Click HERE to view the press packet, which includes the Press Release and a copy of the lawsuit, as well as a few key photos and emails from LAPD Officer Shannon Paulson to employees of the Central City East Association. These documents only scratch the surface of the coordinated effort to prevent LA CAN from exercising our constitutional rights.

Additional Coverage:
Equal Voice, “Los Angeles Group Files Civil Rights Suit Against Police”
Annenberg TV News, “Activist Sues City of LA”

Photos: LA CAN Announces Lawsuit Against City and LAPD

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

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LA Times: “Skid row activists file lawsuit accusing city of stifling dissent”

Posted in civil rights, Media Advisory, press release with tags , , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Cangress

Below you will find a Los Angeles Times piece by Gale Holland covering the announcement of the LA CAN lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Central City East Association (CCEA), Downtown Industrial District Business Improvement District, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LAPD Lieutenant Shannon Paulson, and former CCEA Executive Director Estela Lopez.

Click HERE for the full press release.

Deborah Burton
By Gale HollandMarch 10, 2014, 4:29 p.m.

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Monday accuses the city of Los Angeles of malicious prosecution for charging a skid row community organizer with assault after she blew an air horn during a demonstration.

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich charged Deborah Burton, 62, with misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly blowing the horn in officials’ ears during a 2011 skid row protest. Burton was acquitted of all charges last July. The suit says the charges were aimed at stifling political dissent.

Police conspired with business leaders, distorted crime reports and lied on the witness stand to frame Burton for crimes she did not commit, the suit says.

City Atty. Mike Feuer, who succeeded Trutanich, said in an earlier interview that the Burton claim had no merit.

“We proceeded in that case in a highly professional way,” he said.

LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said the department would not comment on a pending lawsuit.

The suit, brought by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles on behalf of Burton and the Los Angeles Community Action Network, also accuses police of harassing and intimidating group members and falsely arresting its leaders.

The actions were designed to silence the group’s protests against the displacement and “criminalization” of poor residents of skid row, the densest concentration of homeless and extremely low-income people in the country, the suit says.

“Many business interests and the City officials who support them apparently see the existence of high concentrations of poor people in the area, especially African American men and the highly visible homeless population, as an obstacle to planned business expansion and development,” says the suit.

Also named in the suit are the Downtown Industrial District Business Improvement District, whose security guards patrol skid row on bikes; Central City East Assn. and its former director, Estela Lopez, who ran the improvement district; the Los Angeles Police Department; Police Chief Charlie Beck; and Lt. Shannon Paulson.

“Really, the city should have been helping them fight against homelessness, not put every barrier in their way and blatantly violate their 1st Amendment rights,” said Legal Aid Foundation attorney Barbara Schultz.

The suit seeks an injunction to halt interference with L.A. Community Action Network’s civil and constitutional rights; a declaration that the rights of Burton and her group were violated; and general, special and punitive damages. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The August/September 2013 Community Connection is NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in community connection with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2013 by Cangress

AugSept2013 CC Color_web_1

Click on the Photo above to read the August/September 2013.

You can also view a high resolution PDF version HERE.

CCEA Illegally Using Bolt Cutters to Steal Skid Row Resident Property

Posted in video with tags , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Cangress

Yesterday the LA CAN Community Watch Team came upon the Central City East Association (CCEA) Security Guards attempting to use bolt cutters to illegally confiscate the property of a Skid Row resident. The team intervened to prevent them from stealing the private property, which was clearly not abandoned. However, when the team returned an hour later, the property was gone and the lock was cut.

A September 2012 decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction that bars the City of Los Angeles and LAPD from seizing the property of Skid Row residents. However, private Business Improvement District officers continue to illegally steal property from residents. They regularly claim that this property is abandoned, but LA CAN has documented time and time again that this is not the case. More often than not the property belongs to residents who step away for a few minutes to use the restroom, get a meal, or engage in other life sustaining activities.

NOW AVAILABLE: May/June 2012 Community Connection!

Posted in civic participation, civil rights, community connection, community gardens, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, food access, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing, photos, Uncategorized, women's issues with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by Cangress

The May/June 2012 Community Connection is NOW AVAILABLE!

Click on the Photo above to read the Community Connection Online.
You can also download a PDF version HERE.

Estella Lopez and CCEA Continue Their Misinformation Campaign

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Cangress

Last week, The Los Angeles Times’ published an editorial (“L.A.’s skid row property rights”) calling out City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and his “misguided use of resources” in trying to overturn a recent federal court decision that bars the city and LAPD from seizing/destroying the property of homeless residents living in Skid Row.

On February 28, Estela Lopez (Executive Director of the Central City East Association) issued a problematic response (“Skid row: Hoarding trash on sidewalks isn’t a right”) that was riddled with misinformation and straight out lies. She continues to mischaracterize and demonize our community in the media.

To be clear, Estela Lopez and the CCEA do NOT speak on behalf of Skid Row residents – housed or homeless. The CCEA represents downtown L.A. businesses that pay Lopez and her organization to advocate on their behalf.  If her concern for housed Skid Row residents expressed in the editorial were real, she could work with residents on solutions instead of blaming us for our community’s problems.

In her response, Lopez states “those who are critical of this injunction don’t dispute the right of the homeless to have personal property.” However, that is precisely the position taken by the City of Los Angeles at the behest of those interested in removing poor people from downtown Los Angeles. Leading the charge has been  Los Angeles City Attorney, Amy Field  who has openly in her arguments to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, fought against the notion of property rights and due process in Skid Row.

In an exchange with judges, Ms. Field stated “I’m not conceding that they [homeless residents of Skid Row] have a constitutionally protected property right. In fact, that’s my point…that they don’t.” (Hear audio of this quote and others HERE)

Then Lopez concludes her shallow rebuttal by stating that the injunction “is about whether it is safe, sane and civilized to allow limitless and hazardous possessions to occupy the sidewalks that belong to everyone,” which is a blatant misstatement of fact. The injunction does NOT allow for limitless OR hazardous possessions on the sidewalk.  In fact, it expressly states that property that presents an immediate threat to public health or safety CAN be seized.

Ms. Lopez, Skid Row residents are perfectly capable and speaking for themselves – and they do it every day in their fight for an equitable community that values long-time low-income and homeless residents.  Your version of our community only perpetuates myths and stereotypes.

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The specific directives in U.S. District Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez’ ruling state that the City, and its agents and employees, are enjoined from:

“1. Seizing property in Skid Row absent an objectively reasonable belief that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime, or contraband; and

2. Absent an immediate threat to public health or safety, destruction of said seized property without maintaining it in a secure location for a period of less than 90 days.”

Therefore, the injunction in no way instructs the City of Los Angeles to stop picking up trash. Nor does it stop LAPD from enforcing laws that regulate appropriate sidewalk access or from taking property that presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime.

What the injunction actually does is bar the city from seizing and destroying the personal possessions of homeless residents.

Jan and Estela – Quit spewing Garbage and just Pick up the Trash

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, press coverage, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 28, 2011 by Cangress

“A Legal Rulings Unfortuante Impact: June Decision Turns Skid Row Sidewalks Into a Health Hazard
Op-Ed by Estela Lopez, Executive of the Central City East Association (Los Angeles Downtown News August 26, 2011)

“Injunction and Growing Encampments Bring Health Fears on Skid Row”
by Eric Richardson, (blogdowntown.com October 26, 2011)

The recent chatter regarding the impacts of a Preliminary Injunction ordered by Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge, has been one big ball of MISINFORMATION.

As background, in June Judge Gutierrez found that the City of Los Angeles was in fact violating the rights of homeless people living in Downtown Los Angeles by seizing and destroying their personal property. The violation(s) happened in a number of ways including confiscation of property directly from homeless people and seizing property that was left unattended for short periods of time. (Click HERE to read the decision).

As such, the courts PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED THE City and its agents from doing the following:

 1. Seizing property in Skid Row absent an objectively reasonable belief that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime, or contraband; and
2. Absent an immediate threat to public health or safety, destruction of said seized property without maintaining it in a secure location for a period of less than 90 days.

The City was also directed to leave a notice in a prominent place for any property taken on the belief that it is abandoned, including advising where the property is being kept and when it may be claimed by the rightful owner.

The intent of the order is very clear and is consistent with constitutional and California law. More important, however, it in no way, shape or form, instructs the City of Los Angeles to stop picking up trash—but stop collecting trash on a consistent basis is exactly what they have done. As a response to this action, the strategy on the part of the City and the Central City East Association appears to be to point fingers at “said” trash and say that it is the judge’s fault. Why? To hopefully influence the appellate court to see things their way.

In a recent conversation with Central Bureau Deputy Chief Jose Perez , he unabashedly confirmed the obvious: that LAPD and other city agencies were in fact not picking up trash because the decision prevented them from doing so, which, of course, is a straight out non-truth. Now, you have City Councilmember Jan Perry parroting new nonsense about health risks that have been created as a result of the decision and some bogus business about a process needing to be created that instructs people to move their PERSONAL PROPERTY so that the sidewalks can be cleaned.

For the record:

  • The LAPD HAS NOT lost their ability to enforce laws prohibiting appropriate sidewalk access.
  • The judgment DOES NOT prohibit LAPD from taking property that   presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime.
  • The judgment DOES NOT prohibit the City from cleaning the streets and sidewalks.
  • The City of Los Angeles HAS an obligation to keep the streets and sidewalks clean for the health and enjoyment of all residents.

Lastly, the current situations regarding personal property and trash in Central City East represents an immature bureaucracy hell-bent on denying the rights of downtown’s poorest residents for the sake of a few. Most passersby will quickly realize that most residents in downtown have a stringent routine (some of the routine is based on ordinances that forbid standing, sleeping, or sitting on public sidewalks during the hours of 6:00am – 9:00pm) whereby personal property is neatly stored and areas cleaned up first thing in the morning.

So, we must ask, what are Lopez, Perry, and similar groups really after?  Clearly they are more concerned about winning their appeal of the decision and getting “permission” to steal and destroy people’s personal property than they are about ensuring a clean and safe community for ALL residents.