Archive for human 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

August 21 Webinar: A People’s Budget Based on Human Rights

Posted in human & civil rights with tags , , on August 14, 2013 by Cangress

People's Budget webinar flyerOn August 21 (3pm EST) the good folks at NESRI (National Economic & Social Rights Initiative) will be hosting a webinar: “A People’s budget Based on Human Rights.”

For more info and to sign up:

What do our federal, state and city budgets have to do with the disturbing increase in inequality and poverty in the United States? Faced with repeated budget cuts, we desperately seek to protect food stamps, housing programs, education funding and other important public services that ensure our basic human rights. Yet that also means essential programs get pitted against each other, and we lose sight of what should be obvious: the purpose of our local, state and federal budgets is to meet people’s needs.

We need an entirely different approach to making budgets! Join our webinar on August 21 and check out NESRI’s short animated video that shows how we can change the budget process to ensure that spending and tax policy is responsive to people’s voices, needs and rights.

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

One Billion are Rising Today – February 14, 2013 Marks V-Day’s Worldwide Rise Up

Posted in anti-violence, DWAC & Women's Issues, human & civil rights, women's issues with tags , , , , on February 14, 2013 by Cangress

Today is V-Day’s 15th Anniversary,  and they “are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.”

one billion rising pershing square

LA CAN members joined One Billion Rising in Downtown LA today – a rising against street harassment.  In Pershing Square, dozens gathered to sing, dance, rise up and demand an end to violence against women.

LA CAN has been a part of V-Day since 2006 and is proud to be an ongoing part of the Vagina Monologues and now One Billion Rising.  We thank the organizers of the Pershing Square event for ensuring Downtown LA was included in this worldwide action!

One billion women violated is an atrocity.  One billion women dancing is a revolution.

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.

Posted in press release, URGENT ACTION with tags , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Cangress




WHAT: Press Conference:  Tenants protesting potential displacement to present an open letter to all potential building owners informing them that the tenants in the building, and surrounding community, will not be moved without a fight

DATE:  Thursday, November 8, 2012

TIME: 10:00 AM

LOCATION: 2913 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles 90007

 PARTICIPANTS: LA Human Right to Housing Collective and its members, other low income residents living in the Expo Line Transit Corridor, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), Union de Vecinos, and ¡Comunidad Presente!

BACKGROUND:  Transit dependent residents living in the “University Park” neighborhoods of South Los Angeles have benefited from the long awaited Expo Line, receiving accessible transportation to Downtown Los Angeles and all its other connections.  However, low income families like the families living at 2913 S. Flower Street – a building directly in front of the newly constructed railway — are now constantly threatened with displacement due to land speculation and profiteering.  Big developers are aggressively trying to buy out the low income tenants to make way for market rate housing, high-end boutiques, restaurants and the like.

 The tenants living at 2913 S. Flower Street have fought for more than 15 years for their homes, withstanding the bulldozers, the noise, the rattling of trains and previous threats of displacement.  Today, as they stand to possibly benefit from the rewards of the transit development, their homes are threatened by speculators.   The very low-income residents who need public transit the most are the first to be pushed out of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) corridors in a county-wide trend to redevelop these newly “transit rich” areas.  Ironically, demolishing affordable housing along these corridors reduces the ridership of public transit.

 The residents of 2913 S. Flower Street are calling a press conference to announce a campaign to protect their homes, their community, and demand “people oriented” transit development along the Expo Line and all current and planned transportation corridors in Los Angeles.   Tenants have prepared an open letter to any potential new owner of their building to put them on notice that residents in this building, and this community, will not be moved without a fight.

VISUALS: Tenants and neighbors holding signs; Expo Line trains; Façade of 2913 S. Flower: a 33 unit Affordable Housing Building; Downtown Los Angeles Skyline; Local Families with Children

Spanish speakers and interpretation will be readily available.


Message to the City of Los Angeles: Protect Our Health, Clean Our Streets, Don’t Destroy Our Personal Property

Posted in civic participation, civil rights, legal, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by Cangress

The City of Los Angeles continues to play a dangerous game of “legal chicken” with the health of Skid Row residents. Over a number of years, Los Angeles has removed trash receptacles, portable toilets and just about anything that could provide a bit of humane comfort to those marginally housed. The LAPD simultaneously employed a strong-arm approach — taking and destroying items they deemed were “items of comfort”  and insisting that those things make it easier for people to live on the streets.  They forget to add, however, that shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing is maxed out and literally there is no room at the inn.

Unfortunately this is not a new occurrence in Los Angeles. Dating back to the 80’s Los Angeles has been engaged in the  practice of taking personal possessions, destroying them and  winding up in court as a result. Each time the court has reinforced Constitutional protections and has given Los Angeles clear instructions on how to enforce issues related to health and safety concerns, without illegally taking personal property. The injunction issued by The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez is no different.

Los Angeles’ response to the recent injunction has been mean spirited and misguided, namely the outright refusal to clean streets and pick-up trash. Community residents have long cleaned Skid Row streets in the absence of consistent cleaning and trash collection. OG’s in Service have long enlisted the support of residents, arming them with colorfully painted trash cans and brooms, in hopes of supplementing the City’s infrequent collection. Residents forced to live on the street also clean their areas and place debris in the reach of skip loaders in the event they actually show up.

But these days they rarely show up. That is until the Department of Public Health showed up and cited the City of Los Angeles for numerous health code violations.

Police Commission Finds that Dale Garrett Shooting Last Year was Not Within Policy – But True Justice for Police Murders is Hard to Find

Posted in anti-violence, civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Cangress

Dale Garrett was shot and killed by LAPD in the Skid Row community last year at this time – the anniversary of the police murder is this coming Thursday.  LA CAN members and other community members will be holding a vigil in his honor calling for the end of police murders and abuse, and accountability for officers.  The vigil will take place on 5th and Spring Streets at noon – PLEASE JOIN US!

Two weeks ago, the Police Commission finally heard the results of the use of force investigation.  Dale was actually shot twice in the back.  Just as witnesses – many of whom were LA CAN members who came forward to provide testimony – had earlier claimed, the shooting was found to be out of protocol by the Commission – though Chief Beck and the Inspector General found it to be within protocol. The Commissioners found:

“In conclusion, Detective A and B’s failure to follow proper protocols or to operate in a manner consistent with Department tactical training, by having and communicating an operational/tactical plan, to include support personnel, unjustifiably and substantially deviated from approved Department training.”

“In conclusion, the BOPC found Detective A’s lethal use of force to be out of policy.”

Although the Commission took this unusual action to overrule the internal report (they find the large majority of shootings to be justified, though communities know this isn’t true), Chief Beck gets to decide the discipline for these officers.  And the LA Times reported recently that Beck has not been strongly disciplining officers for unjustified shootings – otherwise known as police murders.

While LAPD continues to enforce the most minor violations against poor residents in downtown LA –  sending people to jail for sitting on the sidewalk – their officers are allowed to commit major violations, even kill people, without any consequence.  LA CAN believes criminal charges should be pursued in this case and we will continue to demand police accountability throughout our community – to the policy makers and on the streets.  Stay tuned.

Joel Rubin of the LA Times reported on this today:,0,5626899.story

The public version of the use of force report is here:

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.