Homeless organizer General Dogon comments while leading an action by Services not Sweeps, a Los Angeles city-wide coalition.
You can’t solve a homeless crisis when the city gives 52% to 54% of the general fund to the police. You can’t solve a housing crisis when the L.A. Police Department gets 87% of the homeless budget. You damn sure can’t solve a homeless problem when you got racist initiatives like the Safer Cities Initiative where they spent over a million dollars annually over the past 10 years just on the police, just on Skid Row.
It started out, 150 tents on Skid Row, now it’s 5,000; they are all over the place and it’s because the city has been criminalizing homelessness. It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with clean-ups. All this shit started as a result of the city trying to wiggle its way out of a lawsuit, Tony Lavan v. the City of Los Angeles, (a temporary restraining order barring L.A. from “confiscating personal property of the homeless when not abandoned and destroying it without notice”).
The city threw its hands up, they couldn’t take people’s property, so the city, even the police, said well . . . if we don’t have the right to take homeless people’s property, we’re not going to pick up trash, we’re not going to dump trash, we’re not going to clean up because we can’t tell the difference between what is homeless people’s property and what is trash. So they allowed it to pile up, they never did dump shit and then they went around and took pictures and took them to court and said, “Look, this is what happens when you don’t allow us to take homeless people’s property, it piles up like this.” Then in 2012, the county did their public assessment of Skid Row.
The city in the last 15 years got hit with five serious lawsuits, and instead of adhering to the lawsuit, they try to wiggle out of it. In the name of public health and safety they lock down, they move shit, they take shit, do all kind of stuff, right? Trying to get out of the Tony Lavan lawsuit in 2012, the city appealed all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit told the City to build more housing. ‘We’re not going to rule in your favor that restricts property rights to a certain group of people!’