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Skid Row Activist on Trial --Anti-Brutality Rally Update

by Unhoused Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007 at 9:28 PM

Downtown L.A. Hotel Attempts to Ban Homeless People from It's Public Areas --Saturday demonstrations against police brutality on Skid Row in front of LAPD Central Division headquarters continue weekly:

Skid Row Activist on...
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Jury deliberations are expected to begin Tuesday February 20, at 10 a.m. in the Los Angeles trial of Skid Row homeless community activist, David Busch, on criminal charges for attempting to use the pay phone in the public lobby of downtown Los Angeles’ Standard Hotel.

Busch has been homeless for over 14 years, and has started several ongoing L.A. foodlines for hundreds of homeless people --with nothing but shopping carts, and while sleeping on doorsteps –and is currently leading weekly Saturday demonstrations against police brutality on Skid Row:!/SkidRow.htm

Says Busch, “This case on Tuesday, is now just the sort of extremity that downtown business and the LAPD are newly going to in L.A. right now to deny homeless people here even more of our human and civil rights. This case should have never come trial –the Downtown Standard Hotel, where all this took place, has a lobby that is open to everybody --but now they want to say “everybody but the homeless.”

States Busch, "It's really ludicrous; I was charged with 'Trespass -interfering with business' for going into the hotel for about the 6th time, without incident, to use the pay phone, which is in a public area."

"How I can be charged with 'interfering with business' --when it was the hotel's security which interfered with my attempt to do business at that phone, is really just one of the Orwellian-type excuses that they are now using against us homeless people here: to drive us all out of downtown L.A."

Continues Busch, "At the trial, on Friday, the security guard of the Standard also stated that the lobby was off limits to everybody but 'patrons' --but then stated that anybody even entering the lobby for business was a 'patron,' and yet, then attempted to claim that I wasn't one, for some reason. And this is even though I had, also prior to this, made one collect call from that phone that over .00 dollars was billed for."

"There never was ever anybody else waiting to use the phone, either. It's really just any excuse that they can make up to arbitrarily discriminate against homeless people --and even if we aren't causing any disturbances," Busch avers.

Busch has been taken into police custody or arrested scores of times, and been represented both by the ACLU, and lawyers with the National Lawyers Guild; who’ve defended him against several trumped up anti-homeless charges; but the activist has never been convicted of breaking any law, except on the first night he was homeless, in 1992, when he says he was forced to break a bank window at 9 at night in Orange County, in order to get shelter in the only County facility available that night to homeless people, the jail --where he would not have been coerced to attend a religious service.

Even though the incident was over 14 years old, and the activist has been convicted of breaking no law since, when Busch simply stated on the witness stand that "he took care to protect his reputation under the law," the prosecuting attorney for the city in the case immediately demanded making that 14 year old incident an issue at trial.

Summing up, Busch states this about his newest trial; “Right now, downtown, Mayor Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Jan Perry are demanding criminalization tactics for almost all the homeless people here. While claiming to be ‘liberals,’ they are leading in this massive push to criminalize all of us here --on any charge they can get: jay-walking; sleeping past 6 a.m.; petty parole violations; littering; and they are even attempting to throw all homeless people they can entrap downtown, those entitled to drug treatment, into the State Prisons. It is the largest mass criminalization of homeless people in the history of L.A... According to the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, as many as 4,000 people have been cuffed up, searched, had property seized, and then told that they weren't being arrested --but then have been issued misdemeanor tickets that they can't afford to pay --and which go to warrant, and then get them arrested. All this, and more, is really in order to just send a message loud and clear: if you are homeless, and in downtown Los Angeles, you are going to be hounded; you are going to be harassed --and in other cases you also are going to be beaten, or framed, or brutalized, by LAPD.”

“And you will be denied entrance even into the public areas of downtown businesses, if you dare even come down here anymore,” asserts Busch about the current situation.

Adds Busch, “I therefore refused to back down from my right to be treated equally at the hotel -- and we Skid Row activists in the group I helped found here are simply not going to stop our weekly protests either --until these rights-violating police sweeps stop.”

Information about the weekly Saturday Vigils can be found here:!/SkidRow.htm

At trial, Busch is being represented by Public Defender Terri Yen.

Adds Busch about the city policies also involved, “This whole trial is really just the sort of harassment of a homeless person that never should happen. But forcing me to go to trial on this trumped up arrest is the sort of extremes that public officials in Los Angeles will now go to --and this is under the so-called “progressive” politics of a Democrat --Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa."

Explains Busch, "In Santa Monica, in 1998, when I faced similar charges there, the city, under then City Manager Susan McCarthy, and Police Chief James Butts, retrained all police officers there to advise proprietors of public accommodations that attempting to exclude people simply because they were homeless was not supported by law. In 2000, similarly, LAPD West Division accepted my citizen’s arrest of the head of the Getty Museum’s Security Department, Michael Moore, for attempting to exclude me because I was homeless. My attorney at that time was Robert Myers, the former City Attorney of Santa Monica --who was fired from his job prior to representing me –for going so far as to refuse to write any anti-homeless laws in Santa Monica whatsoever. After my arrest of Moore at the Getty was supported by LAPD, the museum formally agreed to retrain their entire Security Staff in homeless sensitivity training.”

States Busch, “But that citizen’s arrest by me also took place when James Hahn was City Attorney of Los Angeles: his office refused to prosecute me; and helped convince the Getty Museum of my rights. Hahn, also, afterwards when he became Mayor, and other city officials even before him, had a long policy being significantly more respectful of the rights of homeless people --because they recognized that we are living in crisis situations here; where our basic right to housing is being denied; and we are primary targets for community frustrations and hate. Meanwhile, under Villaraigosa, according to the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, now, despite Villaraigosa claims to be leading in anti-homelessness, for instance, we have almost a complete standstill in any city progress towards the City’s official 'Bring LA Home' 10-year commitment to eradicate the need of people to sleep on the street."

"Moreover, Villaraigosa, in league with Perry, is actually leading in this homeless hate campaign here under the guise of "The Safer Cities Initiative" --to drive us from downtown into surrounding communities without adequate support first-–even while he poses for incredible visual stunts: like washing the feet of the homeless on Thanksgiving; and making sure that the TV cameras get notice of it."

Concludes Busch, “This Mayor is really just deceiving many on homelessness. I am not looking for publicity -–but what I am looking for is for the law and the media to step in however, and pull the mask of hypocrisy off this Mayor, and Police Chief William Bratton, and Councilwoman Jan Perry, and also City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s distracting “dumping” lawsuits; and declare that this city cannot waste more and more police and court time on these sorts of false and trivial arrests and misdirected lawsuits simply to roll over for rich downtown developer interests at the expense of our basic rights and also the area's outlying communities --not yet capable of handling all of the downtown’s homeless now being driven there."

"Finally, too, I just strongly believe that in a democracy we have a duty to constantly advocate for our most basic human rights --like that of us all to be kindly accommodated in these public accommodations: and for our right simply as people, at all times, for housing."


WHEN: This Saturday, Feb. 24th

Starting at 1 p.m.

WHERE: Gathering will be in front of LAPD's Skid Row (Central City East) LAPD Division Headquarters

Address: 252 E. 6th St. (6th Street two blocks east of Los Angeles St.)

Latest Rally update:!


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