Los Angeles Skid Row Activist Defies Mayor: A Revolutionary Moment

A skid row activist rips up an award given to him by the mayor, stating that homeless people in Los Angeles need health equity, toilets, and an end to criminalization.


LOS ANGELES, CA — Successive mayors in Los Angeles have refused to provide basic human rights for the residents of Skid Row. From Tom Bradley to Antonio Villaraigosa to the current mayor Eric Garcetti, mayors have hidden behind masks of being liberal Democrats. The city government has criminalized and dehumanized the residents of Skid Row and the exploding, citywide homeless population.

In a ceremony on December 4, the mayor presented General Dogon, a Skid Row community leader and a member of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), with an award for helping to create a hygiene unit with seven bathroom stalls and six showers … this in a city of 58,000 houseless people! Dogon received the award and then ripped it up in front of the mayor.

A revolution is described as a moment when the ruling class can no longer rule in the same way and the oppressed class can no longer live in the old way. This was a revolutionary moment. Here are General Dogon’s own words to Mayor Garcetti as he tore in half his commendation:

“This award is just like the mayor and his cronies: it’s worthless. This right here, these toilets you’re bringing is 10 years late and 300 short. For the last 16 years, you’ve been in leadership of City Council. You have directly criminalized Skid Row and I cannot accept this. This ain’t nothing compared to what we’ve been going through and what we need. We totally laid out in the “Dirty Divide” [a 2013 report calling for public health equity on Skid Row] what the community needs, and until the recommendations in the Dirty Divide, that are said inside, then what we’re doing today don’t mean nothing. It’s a start but like I said we need 300 more toilets.”

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