“Now Shakespeare, an African American unhoused man, is dead.
Who really has blood on their hands?”
Councilman Mike Bonin went to the Police commission with #Neighborhood Watch to ask for more police in Venice. They came with an organized statement: they were afraid of homeless youth. Our Justice Committee and others appeared there to oppose this.
In January Venice did get more police. The LAPD Pacific Division and the Metro horse patrol regularly focus on a ticketing effort of homeless people and arresting them for infraction warrants.The City closed the WLA court house (Purdue) and since people need to appear for infractions at the Beverly Hills court house, it is very hard to get there from Venice if you are homeless. It is common for these tickets, most of which are bogus, to go to warrant.
Council Mike Bonin instructed the city attorney to write a new Living in Vehicle ordinance LAMC 85.02 (to replace the one overturned as unconstitutional by Desertrain v City of LA), a new property ordinance LAMC 56.11 (to replace the one overturned as unconstitutional by Lavan v City of LA), and a brand new park property ordinance in 63.44B.
Councilman Mike Bonin also increased the sanitation sweeps in Venice from periodically, to monthly, then to twice monthly, and now every Friday. These sanitation sweeps are over the top multi-agency, hazmat suit wearing, and LAPD monitored events.
Clearly, homeless people are portrayed by the City as a health hazard and a nuisance that should be criminalized. Treating people like they are some kind of a plague, using an ever increasing amount of law enforcement as the response to homelessness, creating laws that specifically target people based on their homeless status – has a direct link to the increased violence against homeless people in Venice. The police are not trained to be nonviolent agents of the state, and treating people as the”other” does not inspire compassion – to be sure.
The consequences are deadly, with two recent LAPD killings:
- Brendon Glenn, an unarmed African American youth living unhoused in Venice, was shot and killed by the LAPD on Windward Ave on May 5, 2015.
- Jason Davis, a man with mental health issues living unhoused in Venice, who was shot three times (neck, chest, gut) by the LAPD on Rose Ave. He died a few days later. They said he had a knife but it ended up being a box cutter.
- The killing of Shakespeare, Sunday Aug 30, and the arrest of the owner of the Cadillac Hotel brings in a vigilante component that should alarm even the seemingly more moderate Venice citizen, including those who are in favor of some antihomeless laws – like the Oversized Vehicle street signs.
Possibly ex-gang members were being hired by the Cadillac Hotel to run off the homeless people from sleeping on the sidewalks there – actual legal places for them to sleep. Witnesses say the owner of the Cadillac Hotel instructed the person to kill Shakespeare. It is not uncommon for local businesses to hire “security” or create BIDs as a form of sub-police agent to deal with homeless people. This is but a continuation, another arm, of the worst part of how Los Angeles deals with poverty.
Now Shakespeare, an African American unhoused man, is dead. Who really has blood on their hands? Who?
by Peggy Lee Kennedy & Calvin Moss
Venice Justice Committee
The Venice Justice Committee organizes a monthly volunteer citation clinic, monitors sanitation sweeps, and takes incident reports on civil rights violations at: [email protected]