By the Los Angeles
Community Action Network
Marchers from San Julian Park in the heart of skid row were greeted
with thunderous cheers as they joined residents and friends from
organizations throughout Los Angeles gathered in an empty lot across
from the LA Community Action Network storefront. The rally and protest
against the LAPD’s occupation of our community had begun.
The large crowd assembled on September 25 mirrored a multi-ethnic,
multi-cultural, and multi-generational Los Angeles. This kaleidoscope
put to rest all of the age-old stereotypes used to keep us divided.
LA CAN member, Pam Walls opened with an unforgettable rendition of “We
Shall Overcome,” while everyone locked hands held high in unity.
LA CAN member Al Sabo spoke eloquently about his experience as a
resident of downtown LA and the injustices he has suffered and
LA CAN member Pete White’s speech ignited the crowd. He said: “I look
out at you and see a historic beauty. As our country is reeling from
economic instability and uncertainty, you unselfishly are here. As the
government ponders using our resources to bail out those that have
sucked our communities dry, further bankrupting our communities into
the foreseeable future, you are here.
“We have always been here staring adversity straight in the eye,
rising to the moment, and ultimately passing the test. From the Warsaw
Ghettos to the streets of Skid Row we are still here; from the migrant
farm worker movement to the South Central Farmers, we are still here!
From the ravages of slavery and abolition to the continued struggle for
our Human Rights we are still here! From Operacion Mojado to the ICE
raids of today we are still here! From internment camps to Lil Tokyo we
are still here, still fighting, righting the wrongs and demanding a
“We have gathered today to bring an end to the Safer Cities Initiative
that was launched in 2006, against our community resulting in:
• 18,000 arrests in a community of approximately
• 24,000 citations, more than 50 times greater than
anywhere else in the city. Tickets given to blind and disabled
residents while they are in handcuffs, and to people whose cigarette
ashes fall to the ground.
• $6 million, the minimum cost to patrol 50 squares
blocks of Skid Row.
• $5.7 million, the total homeless service budget for
the entire city of Los Angeles—all 469 square miles.
“This Mayor has stolen a page right from the Bush Doctrine when it
comes to his War Against the Poor. Masquerading as a progressive, he is
single-handedly responsible for the destruction of thousands of lives.
He has stood steadfast behind an LAPD surge that parallels the
occupation in Iraq. He has allowed the arrest of human rights
defenders/organizers simply for attempting to document his heinous
occupation—in full contradiction of who he says he is and in violation
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But just as the Iraq
occupation has failed, so too will Villaraigosa’s domestic occupation.
“Remember, what’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not
Mr. Mayor your reign of nothingness is just about over!”
Responding to the call of this rousing speech, we set off for City Hall
marching and chanting with defiance and determination. We took and held
the intersection in front of LA City Hall sending an electric shock
reverberating through our downtown neighborhood.
Those in power want us to stay divided and silent. We proved them wrong
once again. We showed them a small sample of what the people are
prepared to do for human and civil rights, and we let them know that we
will not go silently.