Community advocates for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles held a press conference Tuesday at City Hall to address last week’s confrontation with LAPD that prompted cops to arrest more than 180 protesters over removing a large homeless encampment in Echo Park Lake.
At least five press members were also arrested covering the demonstrations in an area that has become the epicenter of LA’s gentrification and the new battleground in the fight over the homelessness crisis.
In what began late Wednesday night, Isaac Scher , a 24-year-old researcher and writer and hundreds of other protesters, angered by the sight of city crews fencing up the park, had squared off against a line ofLAPD officers when he heard a police commander declare an unlawful assembly and then give the order to advance.
“Why is Los Angeles willing to fund a state-sanctioned terror campaign at upwards of a million dollars when we can’t provide housing to all Angelinos?” Scher asked.
Scher suffered a broken arm and after being struck with a baton by an LAPD officer during what he described as a “three-night insurgent campaign under the cover of darkness” for the sole purpose of “defending gentrification and terror.”
He said police violence shouldn’t happen to anybody, but it happens far too often – particularly unarmed Black men across the country.
Capt. Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesman, said the department had not been aware of Scher’s injury and had launched an investigation to “get to the bottom of the facts.”
The demonstration was largely peaceful for much of the night as a line of officers stood face-to-face with protesters chanting in support of the homeless people’s rights. But later on, LAPD police formed a skirmish line across Glendale Avenue and began to advance slowly. An officer could be heard on a loudspeaker declaring the protest unlawful, prohibiting people from leaving.
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell claimed the city’s newly enforced effort to clean up Echo Park Lake had been a success in the ensuing days.
“This week showed us that we are capable of changing the status quo when it comes to our approach to homelessness in Los Angeles, which has been a failure in the past, both for our most vulnerable residents who seek shelter and services and Angelenos who demand safe and secure access to their public spaces,” said O’Farrell, who represents the district and is spearheading the cleanup effort.
David Busch-Lilly, who lived at the park and has been homeless for 20 years, told LA Focus, “We need a currency that values the [disenfranchised] as much as the value they give public officials in power because that’s how they’re able to corrupt us on an individual level.”
Busch-Lilly voiced his displeasure with the city’s plan to tackle homelessness.
“This is corruption when a person for political reasons can take a precious resource like hotel rooms that are supposed to go to the most needed and subvert them to destroy a homeless-built community gathering place in a park and then do nothing to help maintain the peace and serenity for everybody there,” he said.
A Housing Is A Human Right rep criticized the city’s lackadaisical effort to provide rooms in hotels for the unhoused population living by the lake.
“The fact that when people have been waiting for a very long time for hotel rooms for housing to me is unconscionable,” said Susie Shannon, Policy Director for Housing Is A Human Right.
She believes Los Angeles has become a dumping ground for many other cities to get rid of people with nowhere else to go.
“Where are people supposed to go in a city that has less than half of the housing and shelter space for the number of unhoused people? We need to provide real solutions. We know what those are: it is housing, not spending more money on enforcement,” Shannon said.
City Councilman O’Farrell’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story