In a continued discussion about who has rights to the city, particularly the street, this week I draw your attention to an event organized by the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN ) to combat an initiative that has further criminalized the homeless population in downtown LA. This email was received from LACAN and the event is scheduled for this Thursday:
The second "anniversary" of the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI) in downtown Los Angeles is coming September 25th. Join downtown residents in calling for the end of SCI and demanding housing and respect for all human rights in our communities!
*Thursday, September 25, 2008*
*10:00 AM - 2:00 PM*
*Skid Row Community 10:00 AM at San Julian Park OR 9:30 AM at LA CAN
As many of you know, SCI was touted as a public safety initiative that would include increased housing and services for homeless residents of downtown. Instead it has consisted entirely of punitive efforts that have damaged our community and residents for the long-term. For example:
v In the first year of SCI, LAPD issued about 12,000 citations, primarily for "walk/don't walk" violations. This is 48 to 69 times the rate of citations given City-wide. Citations given to homeless and other low-income people inevitably lead to warrants and arrest.
v About 750 arrests have been made PER MONTH, in a community that's home to only about 13,000 people. The majority of arrests are drug related and, due to efforts by the District Attorney to escalate charges, most people will be ineligible for Food Stamps and subsidized housing upon their release.
v Law enforcement has not focused on serious crimes. Among the first 1,350 arrests by the SCI task force, only 22 were for serious, violent crimes.
v The cost of the extra police officers alone is $6 million per year, not to mention court and incarceration costs. $6 million per year could provide housing subsidies and services for 350 homeless people. Jail costs $63 per day, housing and services cost $45 per day.
It is unacceptable that the City of Los Angeles has implemented this failed policy for two years already - and it simply cannot continue. Many downtown residents and organizations have opposed this policy since its inception. However, it is time for the entire City of Los Angeles to speak out and demand an end to SCI before it enters its third year.
For additional information please contact Pete White at 213-228-0024
Also, I have many friends who are either displaced or without power - or both - in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The Red Cross is seeking replenishment to its currently over-tapped Disaster Relief Fund. Money in this fund goes to support shelters, counseling, and emergency supplies for disaster victims. You can donate by going to their website; calling 800-REDCROSS; or mailing in a contribution to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.
Finally, this entry is an effort on my part to not talk about the upcoming election. No matter what cause of the week I was considering earlier today, they all seemed somehow affected by who will take over in the white house come January. The environment, the economy, social services, reproductive rights - all will change, for the better or for the much worse, depending on the votes cast in 44 days. So for now I'll just remind you to register, read, and be ready to act. And consider what Anne Lamott said in her piece in Salon this week - let's not let our energy be sucked into the vortex of the evil possibilities that have been put before us, but let's continue to promote the virtues of the positive and the possibilities of positions we believe are equitable, just, and forward-thinking.