by Venice Justice Committee
Tuesday, Apr. 03, 2012 at 8:23 PM
Occupy Venice, Venice Locals, Lawyers with the National Lawyers Guild, and a group called Venice Community Unity all came together on 3rd Ave in Venice to stop a homeless sweep from happening on March 29. It was a good day.
Councilman Rosendahl and the City Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles decided to actually move the beach as of February 2012. They claim that Ocean Front Walk (the Venice Boardwalk) is now not a street – they say it is now the beach and the Jones Settlement does not apply there. This moved some of the homeless people who slept on the Boardwalk up to 3rd Ave, the only industrial street in Venice without homes.
On March 7, while most of the street people were off getting services or working, the LAPD came to 3rd Ave with three large trash trucks and had Street Services throw away the personal belongings of over 50 homeless people. The LAPD, Los Angeles Street Services, and Councilman Rosendahl’s Office were all partners on this sweep. People lost back packs, suit cases, sleeping bags, personal items, medication, and papers or pictures that cannot be replaced.
That night a legal clinic was arranged by the Venice Justice Committee and Legal Aid of Los Angeles. Venice Community Housing Corporation accessed emergency blankets. Occupy Venice came with food to give away and handed out the blankets. Without the blankets and the food, along with knowing someone cared, this sweep could have been much more devastating than it already was for the people who lost their property. No one should have to suffer such a clear violation of their civil rights and such a dehumanizing experience.
Some housed Venice people who continually lobby Rosendahl’s office and the LAPD to remove homeless people from Venice think that having to see a homeless person is somehow a violation of a crazy made up NIMBY Constitution and they really believe that homeless people should be denied human or civil rights. They are ignorant. Denying sanitation or sleep to homeless people, criminalizing them, seizing their property and throwing it away are violations of their human and civil rights. Furthermore it is not any type of a solution to homelessness; it is quite costly, and it is very mean.
Until the County and the City of Los Angeles do the right thing by coughing up the money to actually solve homelessness by providing decent housing people can afford near or with services, Los Angeles will continue being the homeless capital.
So, of course, the city planned another sweep on 3rd Ave for March 29. This time they put up one notice that they were coming in to clean the street (remove people’s belonging) and this time they were met with some resistance. Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel issued a press release March 28 (the day before) stating she filed a claim for damages on behalf of the people who lost property in the March 7 sweep, which is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against the city. She also asked the Mayor to intercede to stop the March 29 sweep in Venice.
Sobel and Attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild showed up early March 29 on 3rd Ave. Occupy Venice members came out. Venice locals who just knew it was wrong came and Venice Community Unity all came to resist this sweep meant to remove the belonging of homeless people.
There was tension. Despite public resistance, the LAPD and Street Services were going to throw away belongs that were clearly not garbage until Sobel called Rosendahl and convinced him to intercede. So this time no property was seized. Trash was removed from 3rd Ave but the belongings remained. It was a success. The only problem is that the city just keeps doing the same thing.
Maybe it is a fantasy, but wouldn’t it be cool if Rosendahl did something different. He could insist that there be proper notice given before any action where belonging might be seized. The city could provide trash cans with weekly pick up on 3rd Ave. The city could also provide a maintained porta-potty. And if it gets trashy, community people can be notified so they can join with the street people to help take care of it.
Come on Rosendahl; pull something besides an egg out of your bag. Give Venice homeless people some human rights by providing access to sanitation and sleep. Honor their civil rights by not allowing the LAPD or Street Services to seize and throw away their property. You will still get elected and it is the right thing to do.
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