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Over 120 Organizations and Civic Leaders Respond to Homeless “State of Emergency” Announcement: Stop the Criminalization and Create Real, Permanent Solutions

Posted in civil rights with tags , , , on October 14, 2015 by Cangress

Logos for Sign Ons

Open letter to Mayor Garcetti and LA City Council Regarding the Homeless “State of Emergency” Declaration

We write you in response to the recent declaration of a homeless “state of emergency” in Los Angeles and an announcement of a $100 million investment towards homeless services and housing. While we welcome the call for more resources for solutions to homelessness, this must translate into substantial, long-term sources of funding and, equally important, an end to the failed policy of criminalizing the lives of homeless residents through laws and enforcement that punish people for being poor and only make it more difficult for someone to get out of homelessness.

The homeless “state of emergency” did not create itself. The City has invested hundreds of millions dollars to address homelessness in the past several years, but the large majority of that money has gone to the Los Angeles Police Department to cite, arrest and otherwise police people who need resources, not fines and jail time. Just last year, according to Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, $87 million of the $100 million that went toward addressing homelessness out of the City’s general fund was spent on LAPD arrests of homeless people. This is not only an inhumane strategy, it is a wasteful and ineffective one as well. Many of you now seem to agree, which we welcome. Mayor Garcetti has called criminalization efforts “pennywise pound foolish.” We were encouraged that Councilmember Huizar also joined us in saying that “this approach to homelessness has failed” and that “we can’t ignore the problem, and we can’t arrest our way out of it.”

Only $13 million in one-time funds have been identified with no real plan of how you all will get the additional $87 million or ensure long-term investments to really impact the homeless crisis. This must happen immediately if your constituents are to believe this announcement is a real commitment to change. Additionally, increases in financial resources towards this crisis will only work if the City abandons what has been its primary approach toward homelessness over the past decade: criminalizing the lives of homeless residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now requiring that localities have a proactive plan to prevent the criminalization of homelessness or federal funds will be at risk. The time is now. The City can and must redirect millions of dollars towards housing and services and create an environment to ensure homeless residents are not criminalized or penalized for life-sustaining activities.

As Councilmember Bonin recently stated, the City needs to “get out of this cycle we’ve been in of trying to enforce against people who have no alternative.” To this end, in order to adequately address the homeless “state of emergency” with a plan for long-term, dedicated resources, we call on you to do the following:

1. Identify long-term, sustained sources of local funding totaling at least $100 million per year and dedicate the large majority of those resources toward new permanent supportive housing units.

2. End all “quality-of-life” and “Safer Cities” enforcement against homeless residents, including, but not limited to:

a. Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and I, and 41.18D.
b. Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.

3. Provide emergency public health resources to people living on the streets without major investment in infrastructure, including mobile restrooms and showers, mobile health and mental health services, and voluntary storage facilities.

At the announcement, City Council President Wesson declared, “Today, we step away from the insanity of doing the same thing and hoping for different results, and instead chart our way to ending homelessness.” Announcing a goal of $100 million is a start. Words that acknowledge the failed policy of criminalization are promising. But if the City is to truly achieve different results, we need your leadership to ensure $100 million per year is identified and spent on housing and public health solutions and finally step away from policing as a strategy to address homelessness. We have the solutions and the City has the financial resources, we now need sustained political action.

Signed,

Alliance of White Anti-Racist Everywhere – Los Angeles
AME Church Ministerial Alliance of Southern California
Anti-Racist Action LA
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Black/Jewish Alliance
Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
California Partnership
Center for Media Justice
Church Without Walls
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Congregation Kol Ami
Courage Campaign
Dignity and Power Now
Drug Policy Alliance
DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving
East LA Community Corporation
Esperanza Community Housing
First To Serve, Inc.
Global Women’s Strike
Housing Works
Hunger Action LA
Inquilinos Unidos
Inner City Law Center
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Justice Not Jails
Labor/Community Strategy Center
Legal Advocacy Project
Living Word Community Church
Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign
Los Angeles Catholic Worker/Hippie Kitchen
Los Angeles Black Worker Center
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
Los Angeles Poverty Department
Los Angeles Tenants Union / Sindicato de Inquilinos de Los
Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
A New Way of Life
Occupy Venice
People Organizing for Westside Renewal (POWER)
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA)
Progressive Christians Uniting
Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission
Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Los Angeles
Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Skid Row Housing Trust
South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles
Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
St. Mary’s Center
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
Thai Community Development Center
Topanga Peace Alliance
Trust South LA
Union de Vecinos
United Homeless Healthcare Partners
Venice Community Housing Corporation
Venice Justice Committee
Voice of My People Foundation
Wesley Health Centers & JWCH Institute
Western Center on Law and Poverty
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (W.O.R.K.S.)
Youth Justice Coalition

Individuals (Organizational Affiliation for Identification Purposes Only)

Aminah Abdul-Jabbaar, Filmmaker and Professor, CSULA
Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor, CSULA & Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles
Professor Jody Armour, Roy Crocker Professor of Law, USC
Akilah Bakeer, Social Worker
Larry Aubry, Journalist, ABSA, BCCLA
Gary Blasi, Attorney at Law,Professor of Law Emeritus, UCLA
Margo Bouchet, Attorney at Law
Jordan T. Camp, Postdoctoral Fellow Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America (CSREA)
Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Journalist
Chuck D, Public Enemy
Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate and co-founder Hip Hop National Political Convention
Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder Black Lives Matter
Michael Datcher, Author and Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Ralph D. Fertig , ACSW Federal Admin. Judge (Ret.) Professor, USC School of Social Work
Regina Freer, Professor, Occidental College
Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
Jonathan Gomez, Artist
Nana Gyamfi, Attorney at Law
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Film and Television Director
Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock, Professor, US
Phyllis Jackson, PhD, Associate Professor, Pomona College
Dr. Angela James, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Gaye Theresa Johnson, Associate Professor, UCLA
Erin Aubry Kaplan, Journalist
Rev. Peter Laarman, Coordinator, Justice Not Jails
Dr. Libby Lewis, Adjunct Professor, UCLA
Professor George Lipsitz, Professor, UCSB
Lynn Martinez, Attorney at Law
Diane Middleton, Diane Middleton Foundation
Dena Montague, Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSB
Marilyn Montenegro, PhD., Coordinator NASW Women’s Council Prison Project
Maegan Ortiz, IDEPSCA
Jose M. Paez, Professor, CSUN
Yasser Arafat Payne, Ph.D.Associate Professor, University of Delaware
Kevin Powell, Author and Journalist
Margaret Prescod, Global Women’s Strike
Vivian Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor, CSUDH
John Raphling, Attorney at Law
Dr. Anthony Ratcliff, Professor, CSULA
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
Dr. Boris Ricks, Professor, CSUN
Cynthia Ruffin, Downtown Women’s Action Coalition/Liberation Artist/Revolutionary Angel
Rev. Dr. Roslyn Satchel, Minister, Attorney and Community Activist
Aqeela Sherrills, Organizer and Peace Activist, Watts, CA
Mark Simon, Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Carol Sobel, Civil Rights Attorney
Dan Stormer, Attorney at Law
Alan Sutton, The Louise Sutton Kindness for All Foundation
Dave Wagner, Professor, University of Southern Maine
John Walton Senterfitt, PhD, RN Epidemiologist and Ethicist, L. A. County Dept. of Public Health
Goetz Wolff , Immediate Past President, UC-AFT 1990

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The Answer to the Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles is Simple: House Keys, Not Handcuffs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2015 by Cangress

State of Emergency Meme

City Leaders’ Proposal Lacks Resources for More Housing and Lacks Specifics about Changing the Policies of Criminalization

This morning members of the LA City Council and Mayor Garcetti announced a “State of Emergency” on homelessness and promised an investment of $100 million toward services and housing.  While this announcement is a step in the right direction, it is unacceptable that only $13 million in one-time funds were actually identified with no real plan for the additional $87 million or other long-term investments.  Additionally, increases in financial resources towards this crisis will only work if the City abandons what has been its primary approach toward homelessness over the past decade: criminalizing the lives of homeless residents.

Let’s be clear – the City has invested millions upon millions of dollars toward homelessness in recent years. But far too much of that money has gone to LAPD to enforce unjust and often illegal laws that simply punish people for being poor and that make it even more difficult to get out of homelessness. Just last year LAPD spent $87 million of the $100 million that went toward homelessness out of the City’s general fund to arrest homeless residents.  Citations, harassment, displacement, arrest, jailing – this is what that money is spent on, when there is only $10 million in general fund money in the City’s affordable housing trust fund. Is it any wonder then why homelessness is up 12% since 2013?

Lack of investment in housing production, poverty wages, an ever shrinking social safety net, and the most expensive rents in the country drive many of the 13,000 people A MONTH who are pushed into homelessness in LA County. But, make no mistake about it, it is the failed policy of criminalization through LAPD enforcement that prevents people from rising out of homelessness when the limited opportunities arise.

If the City Council and the Mayor are serious about ending homelessness, their announcements would include new and substantial sources of long-term funding combined with a call to end to laws, policies, and approaches that emphasize LAPD enforcement over services and housing.  Homeless outreach workers cannot be successful without actual housing units to connect people to, and they can’t connect with someone who is in jail for ticket given to them for sitting on the sidewalk.  What good is a meeting with a housing specialist if homeless person’s possessions are taken and potentially discarded during that appointment?  What good are more outreach workers without more housing?  We have a lot more questions than answers right now.

In short: You can’t use house keys when you are wearing handcuffs. We finally hear the City Council and Mayor talking about the crisis – now will they actually ensure house keys and call for an end to the handcuffs?

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.

Free Trishawn Carey: Open Letter to District Attorney Lacey

Posted in #blacklivesmatter, #cantkillafrica with tags , , , , , , on April 9, 2015 by Cangress

Jackie Lacey Letter_T Carey

On April 13th Trishawn Carey will be headed to court to face two felonies 1) PC 245(C) assault against a police officer; and, 2) PC 69  resisting a police officer because she picked up a baton and screamed for the police to stop beating Charly Leundeu Keunang better known as “Africa” in the Skid Row community. Africa was ultimately shot and killed and now Trishawn faces a potential life sentence if found guilty and convicted.

Anyone that views, or has viewed  the video, knows that the charges faced by Trishawn are excessive and unwarranted. What is clear, however, is that Trishawn is in need of treatment, not incarceration. To this end we will fight to get Trishawn the treatment she deserves and support her through her court process – we hope that you will join us.

Please read the open letter sent to District Attorney Jackie Lacey urging her to pursue mental health diversion options in this unfortunate case.

 

Jackie Lacey

Los Angeles County
District Attorney’s Office
210 West Temple Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012
Suite 18000

 

RE: Trishawn Carey

BKG #4257163

 

Dear DA Lacey –

Organizationally we applaud your efforts to divert people living with mental illness out of the county jail system. Our ultimate preference would be that individuals were afforded treatment and housing (instead of any jail time) but this is a step in the right direction. We also agree with your assessment that the majority of people living with mental illness are not violent or dangerous. This is an important “truth” that needs to be spread by political leadership in an attempt to disrupt the violent and deadly encounters between law enforcement and those living with mental illness. Lastly, your push to retrain law enforcement is noteworthy and hopefully one step of many aimed at disrupting a culture of fear and violence.

While we soundly appreciate the direction your office is heading more can be done on the front end.

While presenting at the April 3rd Q & A, at Amity House and hosted by ACLU, you acknowledged that high profile shootings (of people with mental illness) needed to end. We agree, steadfastly, but recognize that shootings are but one manifestation of the problem. You are undoubtedly aware of the killing of Charly Leundeu Keunang by LAPD Central Division officers – the video, captured by a bystander, has been viewed over 50 million times and caused outrage across the globe. Also captured on the video but receiving far less fanfare is the takedown of a very small African American woman who picked up a police baton and shrieked as officers beat Mr. Keunang. Her name is Trishawn Cardessa Carey.

We were present at the arraignment of Ms. Carey and were extremely alarmed by her clearly fragile mental health status. After watching the video a number of times we were also alarmed at her felony charges and the fact that she is being held in lieu of more than a million dollar bail.  Post arraignment we connected with many community residents familiar with her and it became clear that her mental health status is widely known – this of course concerned us greatly.

To this end we sent a delegation to visit Ms. Carey in custody – a registered nurse was part of this team – to ascertain her current medical condition. Within minutes of speaking with Ms. Carey a number of things surfaced, 1) that her mental health condition is very apparent and needs to be evaluated and treated; 2) that her physical health was not great and she complained about not getting the right medication for her diabetes; and, 3) that she is aware of her health history and health diary and has been battling these conditions for years. While it would not be proper to share all the details regarding her health we assert the need for a full psychological and psychiatric evaluation prior to proceeding to the scheduled preliminary hearing.

We are certain that you know the stakes in this case and have undoubtedly reviewed the video of Ms. Carey’s arrest – we understand those stakes as well. As we’ve done in the past we will monitor all court proceedings, locate witnesses, and assist the court in any way to ensure that treatment, not jail nor prison, is the only outcome in this case. We also believe that this is an opportunity to move your diversion aims from planning to practice. That Ms. Carey’s case represents the failure of an entire system which persistently criminalizes those better served by treatment not incarceration. That Black Lives Matter and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and humanity. We understand your fiduciary responsibility to your client (we will not impede on or jeopardize that relationship) but we will do everything to ensure Ms. Carey is treated in a fair and just manner by the courts.

 

Pete White

 

Co-Executive Director,

Los Angeles Community Action Network

*C/o LA CAN Human Rights Committee

 

Video: LAPD and Mayor Use Media to Exonerate Officers who Killed Brother Africa

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

Since the LAPD murder of Brother Africa, the community has been told over and over again that we shouldn’t rush to judgement, we should wait until the investigation is completed.

But, as this piece demonstrates, from day 1 LAPD, the Police Commission, and Mayor Garcetti have been justifying the officers’ deadly actions. They aren’t waiting for the investigation to be completed – they are using the media to basically exonerate the officers.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T WAIT! We can’t let them silence our outrage with a process that we already know is broken.We must and we will continue to organize and demand justice for Brother Africa!

Join LA CAN for the Skid Row Memorial Honoring Brother Africa THIS Thursday 3/19: http://on.fb.me/1O32aIc.

For more information or to get involved, contact LA CAN at 213.228.0024 or come to 838 E. 6th 90021.

‪#‎CANTKILLAFRICA‬ ‪#‎BLACKLIVESMATTER‬

THIS IS WHAT FED UP LOOKS LIKE! #CANTKILLAFRICA #BLACKLIVESMATTER

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 6, 2015 by Cangress

FED UP

From the LAist: “Video: Skid Row Residents Force ABC 7 Van Out”

This is what fed up looks like! This is what enough is enough looks like!

This is what happens when Skid Row residents express their frustration with mainstream media coming into their community trying to pimp out their vulnerabilities, hardships, and pain for a quick sensationalist news clip.

It’s not that folks don’t want their stories shared – the people of Skid Row our proud, strong, and resilient. But we won’t continue to just sit idly by as these vultures with cameras roll through our neighborhoods and try to portray and dismiss all of us as criminals living in chaos.

You want to do a story on our community? Write about the decades of failed policy that continue to perpetuate the conditions of Skid Row. Go to Mayor Garcetti’s house or Chief Beck’s house, stick a camera in their faces in their most vulnerable states, and ask them why they continue to support LAPD getting endless millions of dollars to criminalize and punish people for being poor and houseless while the need for housing and services (actual solutions to homelessness) continues to grow.

We are a community. We are human beings. We are not just footage opportunities for the 11 o’clock news. ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ ‪#‎cantkillafrica‬‪ #‎skidrow‬

LA CAN and Skid Row Community Outraged at Latest LAPD Murder in Skid Row #BlackLivesMatter

Posted in #blacklivesmatter, civil rights, LAPD, Media Advisory, Skid Row with tags , , , on March 2, 2015 by Cangress

Contacts: Pete White (petew@cangress.org) and Eric Ares (erica@cangress.org) 213.228.0024

LA CAN and Skid Row Community Outraged at Latest LAPD Murder in Skid Row 

Residents Plan to Take Action Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3rd!

8:00 am – Rally/Protest at corner of 6th and San Pedro Streets, Downtown LA

8:30 am – March from 6th and San Pedro to LAPD Headquarters

9:30 am – Testimony and Calls for Criminal Prosecution at Police Commission Meeting

Again, along with so many other communities, the Skid Row community faces the aftermath of a completely unjustified shooting of an unarmed Black man known in the community as Africa.  Skid Row, occupied by the supposed “Safer Cities Initiative (SCI)” task force since late 2006, has seen some of the highest rates of use of force in the City. This is at least the third police murder since the launch of SCI, following Dale Garrett in 2011, whose killing was found out of policy (but no prosecution ensued), and Mr. Ocaño just last May, who was shot down from a billboard while posing zero risk to officers.

Skid Row has been LAPD’s testing ground for body cameras, before the Mayor’s recent initiative to put body cameras on every officer, and reportedly at least one officer had a body camera during the killing of Africa.  This tragedy shows that body cameras will not stop police violence and murder.  We call on the Mayor and the Police Commission to criminally prosecute officers; remove officers from the force instead of sending them home for paid leave; and other significant reforms to the current business as usual attitude that deems the lives of Ezell Ford, Africa and too many others as just part of the job.  #BlackLivesMatter

As usual, LAPD has changed their statement about the events surrounding their latest murder, as the videos released so far did not support their initial statements.  There was no weapon, and since LAPD officers had the man on the ground and were punching him, they couldn’t use their usual statement of the appearance of reaching for a weapon.  So they’ve said Africa was reaching for an officer’s gun, while being held on the ground by four officers.  This sounds unlikely at best.

Outraged community residents and LA CAN members, who have been fighting against the brutality and oppression of Safer Cities policing since its inception, will be holding a rally and protest tomorrow morning at the scene of the shooting, marching to LAPD Headquarters, and raising our voices and demands to the Police Commission.  The time is now for the Police Commission to assert some real oversight and protect all of the people of Los Angeles.  It’s time for them to stop LA’s role in the genocide of Black people we are seeing throughout the nation at the hands of law enforcement.