Los Angeles, CA–There are many homeless rights advocate groups in Los Angeles, who should be noted for the time and resources provided to the houseless in L.A. Those who understand the hardships facing the houseless community, as well as the gap in services provided by the City of Los Angeles, despite hundreds of millions in allocated funds to address the issue.
Instead, you have a homeless crisis in L.A County that is bubbling out of control, with “tent cities” lining city blocks, freeway off-ramps and empty lots.
When homeless rights groups and protestors heard the city of Los Angeles planned to clear a homeless encampment in Echo Park, they made a call to action to defend the rights of the homeless.
When their protest went past night fall and many found themselves in a police kettle (that are definitely not fair) were surprised when police attempted to arrest them. These protestors, who decided to protest and yell at police over their treatment of the homeless, act surprised that police helicopters were deployed to get an aerial view of the situation. When in reality, these protesters are the reason the helicopters are out there.
As a student of history and someone who has a deep respect for the freedom fighters that came before me–those who were literally killed and jailed for decades, I question a lot of these new protests groups we have seen post George Floyd.
It is also rather triggering, to see such a fuss over Echo Park and these same people will never point to the fact that Black people over-represent the homeless in Los Angeles, despite being only 9% of the population.
A report on Black homeless rates by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that institutional racism was plaguing Black Los Angeles. Despite these reports and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas declaring racism a “public health crisis,” Black people in Los Angeles continue to be literally eaten alive by the city of L.A due to a lack of concern over the issues that plague us.
We don’t see a plan, or a protest in sight, regarding the Black Los Angeles homeless community from those screaming the loudest over homeless rights in L.A.
The city cleared the homeless encampment in Echo Park so that improvements to the park could begin. According to a long-time homeless rights advocate who is Black, Urban Alchemy was on the scene at Echo Park not yelling at the police–but working with city officials to make sure the homeless received hotels and transportation. Homeless rights activist online interviewed some homeless people who did not receive shelter and provided these resources, according to their social media.
Homelessness is a complex issue but the streets is not best place for the homeless, especially women. Making sure the homeless are not “displaced” is important but we must keep in mind that the homeless have been displaced, the moment they lacked shelter and means to provide for themselves. Mental health as well as substance abuse services have to go hand in hand with helping the homeless receive permanent shelter. We have to envision ways to make sure the homeless who were once on the fringes of society, are able to make that transition back into productive members of society.
This is not to make the homeless “fall in line” this is so they can gain back their sense of autonomy, independence and clear focus in their lives.
Food and hygiene kits are important but it is not permanent housing and resources that can help the homeless get back on their feet. If we really want to help the homeless crisis in L.A and just like any other issues you have to focus on them at their core. Actions that lead to arrest are counterproductive. Money and time spent gathering bail money is taking away money that could be used for the community. It is now allocated to local city and state law enforcement agencies.
That’s just my view on the Echo Park Rise Up situation as a Black angeleno and native of L.A, where the issues facing the city are only compounded in the Black community.
Support the work of women like Shirley Raines of Beauty 2 The Streets. She has been providing resources to the homeless community of skid row as well as making them feel good with hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services (pre covid).