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Gentrification: The Rules of the Row (Skid Row, LA)

by MotherJones Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2001 at 7:36 PM

A case study of the gentrification going on in downtown LA, or, how to provide more parking for brainless Land Rover drivers.

error
The Rules of the Row

In the shadows of skyscrapers, a battle is being fought
over the future of
Los Angeles' Skid Row -- and everyone from do-gooders to
developers to City
Hall wants a piece of the action.

by Russ Rymer
March/April 2001

In its neighborhood, which is to say in Los
Angeles, California,
near the corner of Seventh and Maple streets, the early
morning arrival of
Alice Callaghan is counted a weekday sacrament. There
are myriad others:
the dispersal of trucks from the loading docks of the
Flower District
immediately to the south, the deluge of workers
debarking from city buses
to staff the sewing machines in the high-rise sweatshops
of the Garment
District immediately to the west, the emergence of
homeless men from
cardboard boxes who fold their belongings into shopping
carts and do or
don't use the portable toilet on the sidewalk in front
of Las Familias del
Pueblo before shambling north into Skid Row. A few
minutes before 7 a.m.,
Alice Callaghan parks her Volvo, bursting with children,
in a lot behind
the hamburger stand and, fumbling for keys and carrying
her coffee high to
protect it from the bumping mob as she marches down the
sidewalk, draws
aside a security grill and unpadlocks a door t!
o let the children in. Las Familias del Pueblo is open
for another day's
business.

For 20 years, Callaghan has run Las Familias, a
community center
for the garment workers and their families. The children
accumulate in
waves throughout the day until the single room, smaller
than a Brentwood
carport, and the compact, tree-shaded asphalt playground
out back ring with
a cacophonous patois of Spanish and street English,
futbol and Barbie. The
center also serves Callaghan as a battle station for
larger concerns:
defending her adopted neighborhood from government
neglect, commercial
assault, misguided gentrification, and even from itself.

On a morning a couple of days before Christmas,
once the place was
open and the kids settled in and the playground checked
for rats, she left
the adjudication of toy disputes and bathroom privileges
to other staffers
and went out to tour the field. She walked a couple of
blocks east on
Seventh Street and turned north onto San Julian.

Callaghan is an ex-nun (Catholic) and ordained
priest (Episcopal)
with a master's degree in divinity, and she looks the
part of radical
seminarian: as outwardly cheerful and constitutionally
implacable as a
Christmas wreath on the grill of a Peterbilt diesel. She
wears her hair in
a pageboy and dresses unvaryingly in running shoes,
collarless oxford
shirts, and A-line khaki skirts that she hikes up with a
quick hand and a
hitch of her hip whenever she stands, like Bat Masterson
adjusting his
bandolier. She's only a head taller than some of the
children she cares
for. You can see over her, but you can't get around her.
No one has ever
accused Alice Callaghan, and she is accused of a lot of
things, of ducking
a good fight or being faint of heart. Still, when she
entered San Julian
Street that morning, her eyes sharpened.

The scene before her resembled the aftermath of
a catastrophe, an
earthquake or terrorist bombing. Men milled about in the
center of the
street in aimless, edgy, noisy throngs; on the sidewalks
they huddled
morosely beside shopping carts or lay with their backs
against warehouse
walls amid their piled belongings, like so much flotsam
washed up after a
distant storm. The pavement smelled of urine and
excrement. One tall man
with a melted ingot of a face -- much of it had been
shot off in a long-ago
altercation -- passed, heading the other way. "Hey,
Alice," he called out
with a clear voice and a disfigured smile. "Oh, hey,
Jerry," she said back.
"How's it going?" Others eyed her with suspicion: the
crisp shirt, the
A-line skirt. "Are you a fed?" one man asked, low, as
she reached midblock.
"You look like you might be a fed," he said. "C'mon,"
laughed Callaghan.
"They would never hire someone like me."

At the end of the block, another man caught up
with her. He was
younger than most and in more hopeful condition. On his
back was a leather
backpack. "Hey," he yelled as he ran up. "Hey, legal
lady, aren't you the
legal lady?"

The man's name was George Harrison and he
presented her with a tale
of indignity. He had been crossing the street late one
night and had been
given a ticket for jaywalking. "You can handle it
unless you ignore it,"
Callaghan instructed him. "Don't let it go to warrant."
Harrison's grimace
said that the summons date had come and gone. "Okay,"
Callaghan said.
"Come by Las Familias and we'll take down the details."

Harrison's misdemeanor was part of a more
substantial problem for
Callaghan. She received his complaint as a portent, the
way a sailor notes
a shift in the wind. Callaghan has been walking San
Julian and the other
streets of Skid Row for going on three decades, and she
can spot a change
of season. Before she reached the end of the block,
she'd heard the same
story from three more men.

Even among L.A.'s homeless, Skid Row is a bad
address. The
prevailing wisdom holds that the panhandlers head for
the tourist-larded
beaches of Santa Monica, and the runaway kids gravitate
to the seedy,
sequin-and-tattoo glitz of Hollywood. Only the most
desperate drop off the
face of the earth onto the mean sidewalks downtown --
but then, there are
plenty of desperate. Los Angeles has the largest skid
row in the nation,
stretching across 50 square blocks.

Of its 11,000 residents, 85 percent are black
and 80 percent are
men. The fortunate among them stay in missions or
emergency shelters or
subsidized hotels. The rest -- an estimated 4,000 --
live on the street.
All night, fires burn at the curb, surrounded by ghostly
gatherings of men
who wander about or sleep on sidewalks that, according
to a recent city
study, have up to 30 times the bacterial contamination
of raw sewage. When
morning comes and the street sweepers clean the gutters,
they are sometimes
followed by vacuum trucks, lest the runoff contaminate
the storm drains.

Social service providers estimate that at least
70 percent of those
who live on Skid Row have a history of drug or alcohol
abuse and one-third
are mentally ill. Up to 10 percent test positive for
HIV. Most have a
criminal record. Disease and incarceration are
encouraged by exposure and
by the street's only recreations, which on many blocks
are also its only
businesses to speak of: prostitution and narcotics.
Outsiders driving
through perceive the area as threatening, dangerous, a
lawless expanse. And
they are right, in a way, which is why clerks in the few
dingy convenience
stores along the long, empty blocks tuck pistols under
their aprons.

But if the criminal law is often flouted here,
other laws prevail
without mercy or reprieve. They say on the Row that no
one is there by
accident, and nothing happens without a reason. From
above, Skid Row may
appear like a formless, moiling pit abandoned to the
dispossessed. In the
more intimate and accurate view, looking up from below,
it is a grid of
hotly competing jurisdictions, of government agencies,
nonprofit
organizations, and big money wrangling over a
neighborhood's fate. Skid Row
may be the most depressed part of Los Angeles, but it is
also posting an
economic growth rate among the city's highest. As
elsewhere in an economy
of dot-com bubbles and welfare reforms, the disparities
can be more
perilous than promising.

Skid row is nothing if not an intentional place;
it was designated
and nurtured by the city fathers. In 1976, the Los
Angeles City Council
adopted a redevelopment plan that included a "policy of
containment." Those
to be contained were the homeless, and the area they
were to be contained
in was the neighborhood known officially as Central City
East. The policy
did not suggest a walled ghetto, however, or a
dismissive sealing away of
the problems of the poorest. It was, instead, a response
to those problems
that ranked as enlightened compared with the policies of
most other
American cities at the time. After World War II, and
increasingly in the
1960s and 1970s, America set about tearing down its skid
rows, razing the
run-down buildings, dispersing the destitute, and,
often, offering up the
newly cleared real estate to industrial developers. Los
Angeles did its own
fair share of razing. Notoriously, it bulldozed the
entirety of Bunker
Hill, the formerly haute heights o!
f downtown whose gingerbread Victorian homes had
declined into ramshackle
firetrap tenements. The poor residential neighborhood
was reborn, beginning
in the 1970s, as a glistening spine of skyscrapers,
flagship
headquarters for megacorporations like Arco and Bank of
America. Bunker
Hill became the emblem of L.A.'s vaunted downtown
renaissance. There was
talk of doing the same with Central City East.

Then (and partly to deflect criticism that
"redevelopment" was a
euphemism for land clearing and class cleansing) came
the 1976
redevelopment plan, and Central City East was instead
"stabilized" for its
poor residents. The housing was to be preserved and
expanded, and the
"containment" was to be achieved through a dipole
magnet: the concentration
in the area of services such as shelters and detox
programs, and the
establishment of light industry that might offer some
entry employment for
those on the street.

For a quarter of a century, the plan has worked.
Dramatically, in
the accounting of many of those involved. The poor
congregated in an area
where they posed the least nuisance and had the most
available services.
Businesses moved in on Skid Row's fringes, and the
derelict housing was
spectacularly rescued. What looks to outsiders like a
plague zone is
actually a crowning achievement of L.A.'s urban
construct. "Fifth and San
Julian Street is intense," says Jim Bonar, head of the
Skid Row Housing
Trust, "but it's not what it was 20 years ago."

Bonar's organization, known simply as "The
Trust," can take much of
the credit for the jewel in that civic crown: a
proliferation of renovated
Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels as clean and modern
and architecturally
stylish as anything in Beverly Hills. The hotels are
relics of a venerable
heritage of male transiency: Built to house the seasonal
agricultural
workers, ambitious adventurers, and layover railroad
personnel who filled
downtown Los Angeles in the early years of the 20th
century, they weren't
considered disreputable at the time. But their standard
layout -- small
rooms with a bed and a dresser, communal bathrooms down
the hall -- made
them convenient dormitories for despondency when Central
City East became a
dead end instead of a way station.

By the early 1980s, half of the hotels in
Central City East had
been torn down (many for parking lots) or had burned. Of
the remaining 63
SROs, 18 have since been bought and rehabbed by the
Trust, and another 19
by a sister nonprofit, the SRO Housing Corporation.
Between them, the two
organizations own more than a third of all the
residential rooms in the Row.

SRO Housing is the elder of the two; it was set
up in the late
1970s by the city's redevelopment agency. The Trust was
the creation of
Alice Callaghan. She incorporated it in 1988 and still
sits on its board.

"We set up the Trust as a complement to SRO
Housing," Callaghan
says. "We're not competitive." Her professional courtesy
is echoed by Bud
Hayes, executive director of SRO Housing. "On many
issues, Alice and I see
things the same way," he says. "We agree the housing has
to be saved." The
two recognize that the bugbear of redevelopment anywhere
in the country is
how to spruce up a neighborhood without displacing the
poor. "The reality
is, if you do economic development before you get the
housing, then you
will bring in the people most antagonistic to the people
on the street,"
Callaghan explains. "In the end, if you own the housing,
you win. But only
if."

The rehabbed SROs are in this way strategic
redoubts against a
dilemma intrinsic to the policy of containment. Just as
envisioned by the
plan's authors, a new class of entrepreneurs has set up
shop in the Row,
and the neighborhood's economic growth rate has
skyrocketed as a result.
But instead of offering jobs, the businesses have
increasingly militated
against the jobless. They have used zoning regulations
to chip away more
than half of Skid Row, carving out industrial districts
in which no new
SROs can be built without special permission. And they
have demanded
tougher police action to disperse the very people the
city sought to
concentrate in the area. The more Darwinian business
climate has combined
with an erosion of public sympathy for the homeless to
rattle the city's
commitment to Skid Row.

"We believe in the city's redevelopment plan,"
Callaghan told me
one day in Las Familias del Pueblo. "That's all we're
trying to do, is be
faithful to that plan." Her declaration was odd only in
the context of the
question it was trying to address: What had put her so
fiercely at
loggerheads with City Hall and the police, with
businesses on Skid Row, and
ultimately even with fellow service pro-viders like SRO
Housing and Bud Hayes?

The general answer was that Callaghan believes
that the 1976 plan is
being callously abandoned. The abandonment is to some
extent overt, and in
other ways the result of the shifting dynamics that are
altering the rules
of the Row. Whether or not they spell the end of L.A.'s
old plan, those
shifts are making Central City East a battleground, and
San Julian Street a
legal line of scrimmage, in a contest over how America
should treat the
most troubled and intractably destitute among its poor.

On a morning early last October, I met Bud
Hayes and SRO Housing's
associate executive director, Geoffrey Gilbert, in front
of a hotel on
Fifth Street near the corner of San Julian. SRO Housing
had recently
purchased the dilapidated building, which was named the
Southern. "This was
the hellhole of down-town L.A.," Hayes told me proudly.
He is a large man
with an easy, rolling demeanor, wearing a baseball cap,
his expansiveness
contrasting with Gilbert's compactness and quiet but
spring-loaded
intensity. "It was a den of iniquity," he continued,
"the kind of place
where you could pay for drugs by the front desk and
they'd drop them to you
out the back window. They had several shoot-outs in here
over the years."

The Southern's brick facade still bore the grime
of long neglect,
but today that was obscured by scaffolding. Construction
crews bustled
about and the front door through which Hayes and Gilbert
led me revealed an
old entry hall being refashioned into a suave, modern
lobby. Beyond, long
hallways were being reframed into tiers of open-air
balconies, through
which 55 small rooms would face a central, palm-shaded
atrium.
"The poor appreciate the investment in putting
beauty back into
the neighborhood," Gilbert said, and Hayes picked up the
thought: "The
environment sends a strong message. If we just painted
the place and left
it like it was, the message would be, 'You're not worth
very much.' But
this," he motioned around the rising phoenix of the
Southern, "this implies
something different."

From there the pair's pride in mortar and brick
bled quickly into
less tangible concerns. "We designed the common space to
facilitate
community," Gilbert said. "The men who end up on Skid
Row are social
isolates." Hayes continued: "There are a lot of burned
bridges here.
Healing comes from community. Now, mental health
advocates can give it a
lot of fancy different names, but when people feel
respected, and feel part
of a community, to the extent that translates into
feeling loved, the
community heals."

The salutary effect of ambitious architecture is
a gospel common to
both SRO Housing and the Trust. Rents are rock-bottom --
typically around
$190 a month for a room -- and tied to Section 8 or
other subsidies that
keep them within reach of unemployed or marginally
employed tenants; yet
the buildings are handsome, with nicely upholstered
lounges and communal
kitchens sporting professional-grade stainless steel
ranges. The equation
seems to work: Many of the hotels are self-governed and
self-policed. SRO
Housing also employs a hefty security staff to monitor
lobbies and
sidewalks -- men like Bowie, an enormous, uniformed
monolith who escorted
Hayes and Gilbert and me every step of the way through
the neighborhood and
stood sentry at the entrance of any building we visited.

There are no security guards at buildings managed
by Callaghan's
Skid Row Housing Trust, and the difference highlights
the contrast between
two philosophies at large -- and at odds -- on the Row.
The distinction
takes subtle forms: While people seeking residence at a
Trust hotel simply
fill out an application at a storefront office, the
typical route into SRO
Housing's units entails layers of referral and reform.
Many of Hayes'
tenants ascend from emergency shelters through
transitional housing with
intensive counseling for substance abuse or mental
health problems before
graduating to the regular SROs, some of which are
"sober" facilities. "They
operate a program," Jim Bonar says, summarizing the
difference between the
two groups. "We operate housing."

The distinctions don't stop there; they are
strikingly evident on
any map of the district. The Trust's buildings are
scattered around Skid
Row like pickets posted against border incursion, as
indeed they are, for
the Trust would like to buttress as much of Skid Row as
possible against
the zoning assaults and political constrictions working
to diminish it. SRO
Housing's hotels, by contrast, are huddled in the heart
of the Row, around
San Julian and Fifth streets, for the express purpose of
liberating a
single Skid Row intersection from the social predations
of poverty,
including the bad behavior of many of the homeless
themselves. It's as
though, in attempting to defend the poor, the Trust had
envisioned the
danger without and SRO Housing, the danger within.

Alice Callaghan's morning stroll up San Julian
Street afforded an
intimate view of the recent changes many would herald as
improvements. Two
blocks north of Las Familias, at the vortex of milling,
lounging men, was a
new drop-in center where homeless people can congregate
in a concrete
courtyard or sleep in rotating shifts in a small
dormitory. Farther along
was the massive new Union Rescue Mission, five stories
tall, the largest of
the Row's five emergency shelters. At the end of the
street was a
postage-stamp lot of fenced-in green, where men played
chess and dominoes
under pavilion roofs, or lounged on the grass. San
Julian Park was once a
place where some city workers would come only if
accompanied by armed
guards. Now it was a relatively orderly Eden, still
owned by the city, but
overseen by SRO Housing.

All well and good, perhaps, but Callaghan wasn't
celebrating. Behind
such landmarks of progress, she spied an ominous shift
in attitudes toward
the homeless. The compassion people mustered for the
down-and-out even in
the dark days of the 1980s was now all but exhausted.
The new mandate was
to reform the homeless, to cast them not as people with
problems, but as
people who were the problem, and who chose to be a
problem. That perception
had become the coin of the realm among some of the Row's
service
organizations, which had retooled themselves to fit
changed expectations.

"When I came down here in the '70s, the missions
were these
hole-in-the-wall places," Callaghan says. "Now some of
them are big
corporations with headquarters off by the beach and
movie stars on their
boards, and they're invested in institutional survival."
The forms that
investment takes can look ludicrous close-up: Callaghan
and Hayes both
point to the perennial fundraising gimmick -- mediagenic
holiday meals or
toy giveaways for families that, since there are so few
women and children
on the Row, have to be bused in. The ruse highlights a
problem for Skid Row
service providers: drawing money for their clients'
condition without
admitting exactly who their clients are and what their
true condition is.
"Today you can't get dollars for homelessness, per se,"
Bonar laments. "But
there's great sympathy for the mentally ill, or for
people with HIV, as
there should be, and for other groups. The legislature
will give them money."

Pursuing that money has meant, as Callaghan puts
it, talking "the
lingo of rehab," and the lingo created its own logic.
"It stigmatized the
poor," she notes. Especially poor drunk deranged dirty
men, and when the
organizations were eventually called upon to explain why
there were still
so many such men on the Row evidently unrehabilitated,
they came up with
the portrait of the "service resistant" individual who
couldn't bear the
rules and restrictions of shelters and programs.

Callaghan places the drop-in center in that
context. Built by SRO
Housing with help from the city, it offers an officially
sanctioned "high
tolerance zone" where almost any behavior is allowed.
Callaghan picketed
the 1999 opening of the center and likened it to an
internment camp -- a
hyperbole that offended Bud Hayes, who was inside the
center that day,
dedicating it. "It creates the image that anyone still
on the street is on
the street by choice and not because of a lack of
options," Callaghan says.
"It helps set the stage for a harsh response."

Maybe it was coincidence, but the response
followed. The Los Angeles
Police Department has cracked down on Skid Row in recent
months, issuing
hundreds of citations to homeless people for the most
minor infractions --
Callaghan notes instances when officers demanded
identification from
someone, then cited him for littering when he threw away
his cigarette to
get his wallet. If, characteristically, the homeless
person did not make
the trek to court, the misdemeanor led to a warrant,
turning a luckless man
into a wanted man. Citing elevated crime figures -- 4
homeless people
murdered in the Row in the last year, and 32 others
sexually assaulted --
officers from the LAPD's Central Division last fall also
began breaking up
cardboard encampments and rousting people out of the
neighborhood,
solidifying critics' suspicions that the language of
rehab and programs and
community is the velvet glove on a puritanical and
punitive fist.

On the morning I arrived to tour the Southern, I
stumbled on an
arrest in progress beside San Julian Park. The square of
green was banked
with cruisers, and police had a couple of men
spread-eagled against the
fence. "Drugs," Gilbert surmised, and Hayes credited a
general crackdown on
crime with making San Julian Street, on this morning,
uncommonly calm.
"This area was hit hard two days ago," he said. "There
was an encampment on
Sixth Street, and today you wouldn't know it had ever
existed." He
explained that area businesses had complained that the
homeless presented a
nuisance. SRO Housing, it turns out, had been among
those calling for
tougher enforcement.

The business complaints were evidence that more
has been shifting
on the Row than attitude: In recent years, the money has
switched
allegiance. In the early days of redevelopment, Skid Row
benefited from
being a fiscal reflection of prosperous Bunker Hill. The
city demanded that
funds spent to revitalize the downtown of skyscrapers
and trendy
restaurants -- the only downtown most Angelenos and
tourists ever see -- be
matched with a certain amount for the unseen downtown,
which meant Skid
Row. At the same time, the corporations whose
skyscrapers dominated Bunker
Hill prided themselves on being civic stewards and spent
large sums on Row
programs; the president of Arco was on Alice Callaghan's
board.

But then a lawsuit curtailed the redistribution
of funds within
downtown and, in the recession of the early '90s, L.A.'s
biggest
nonentertainment corporations, firms like Arco and First
Interstate, went
belly-up or merged and moved. The business establishment
that replaced them
consisted of myriad small entrepreneurs and shopkeepers
-- toy
manufacturers, garment makers, flower and fish
wholesalers -- many of whom
were too busy eking out their own survival to spend much
time fretting over
intractable social problems, especially problems camping
in their doorways.
Like other inner-city merchants nationwide, they
organized into Business
Improvement Districts, consortiums that hired "shirts"
-- guards mounted on
bicycles and dressed in T-shirts marked "Security" who
spent much of their
time monitoring and confronting the homeless.

As is her wont, Callaghan struck back. She is
feared as a political
pugilist, the more because her politics are
unpredictable. She works
closely with Los Angeles Catholic Worker, a group that
runs the popular
"Hippie Kitchen" in the Row. She also incurred liberal
wrath in 1998 when
she helped write California's proposition against
bilingual education,
after the families of her Hispanic daycare children
complained that they
were being shunted away from English classes.

Last summer, she postered the neighborhood with
eye-catching signs
saying "Shirts Are Not Cops" and handed out flyers
notifying the homeless
of their right not to be pestered by the guards. When
the guards tore down
her posters, she put them back up with epoxy. To spare
the homeless the
legal jeopardy, and the indignity, of relieving
themselves on the street,
she petitioned the city for portable toilets; when the
politicians balked,
she held a sit-in that blocked the men's rooms of City
Hall. Later, when
the city moved all the toilets to one central location,
she rented a truck
and redistributed them around the neighborhood,
announcing that if anyone
touched the portables she'd be back to position them
outside any fancy
hotel where the mayor might happen to speak. The toilets
have stayed put,
and not to everyone's delight. Bud Hayes and others
complain that they are
assignation spots for drug sales and prostitution. Some
refer to the
toilets as "Alices."

The philosophical differences dividing Hayes,
Callaghan, and their
respective organizations came to a nasty head in 1999,
when the city's
nuisance ordinances were directed against the Trust's
Simone Hotel. It was
accused of being the site of occasional violent episodes
and regular
breaches of the peace, the latter for the most part
happening outside the
building and not involving Simone residents. The
allegations transfixed the
Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals, and then a City
Council committee,
through the first half of last year. The zoning
administrator wanted the
Trust to hire a 24-hour security force, to mount cameras
over the
sidewalks, to fingerprint and photograph all visitors to
the hotel, and to
make all films and photos available to police on demand
-- the sorts of
expensive requirements that had been used to drive
liquor stores and bars
out of the Row. The zoning board (despite testimony in
the hotel's defense
from lawyers, administrators, and 41 of the S!
imone's tenants) upheld the conditions, with the caveat
of a fingerprinting
dispensation for visiting clergy. But the Council
committee recommended
that the requirements be dropped in favor of a set of
voluntary guidelines.

The battle over the Simone left wounds and raised
fears, in part
because it was the most direct contest yet between the
advocates and
detractors of Alice Callaghan. For Jim Bonar, what was
especially galling
was the involvement of the Trust's sister organization:
SRO Housing had
provided testimony against the Simone. "That was the
most destructive thing
Bud Hayes could have done," Bonar says sadly. Hayes
eventually softened his
stance in a letter to the zoning board, expressing his
"optimism" that all
problems at the Simone were being addressed and that no
further action by
the zoning administrator was required.

Where that left the Row, or its residents, or
the fate of the 1976
redevelopment plan, is anybody's guess. SRO Housing and
the Trust find
themselves warily at odds and necessarily in league,
each facing the same
vexing conundrums of funding and politics -- and each
wishing for a new
vision that would supplant the old policy of containment
and see the Row
safely through modern realities.

The realities are growing fiercer. Recently, a
new developer has
begun renovating buildings between Skid Row and Bunker
Hill as trendy
middle-class residences. Bonar is watching the sticker
price rise on the
old SROs he'd like to buy and wonders how long it will
take before the
yuppies and the homeless find themselves opening a new
front of hostilities.

For her part, Alice Callaghan continues facing
down the reformers
and the shirts. On December 5 she won a victory: A
lawsuit she had filed
with the American Civil Liberties Union yielded a
restraining order against
the police, forbidding officers from "stopping the
homeless without
reasonable suspicion while they are simply standing or
walking on public
streets and sidewalks." She posted a copy in the window
of Las Familias del
Pueblo. When the police responded three days later with
a harsh sweep up
San Julian Street and a public statement that the
restraining order would
not affect their approach, demonstrators organized a
"Jaywalk-In," in which
homeless people paraded down Fifth Street between banks
of police armed
with rubber bullets.

The escalation of hostilities reflects the
complicated contest still
simmering over who will rule the Row. In a conversation
shortly before
Christmas, Jim Bonar offered a metaphor. Social service
providers and
businesses resembled armies vying for strategic
advantage, he suggested:
"There's land to be occupied here and a fear of
incursions, and each side
is founding parallel settlements, hoping to claim the
territory. I guess
that's one way to think of Skid Row; it's kind of like
our Jerusalem."

Read the article online:


http://www.motherjones.com/magazine/MA01/skidrow.html

Check out the latest from Mother Jones at:

http://motherjones.com





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