The Sweeps pt 2: Politicians Being All A-Flutter

Just because Echo Park can’t have all the news, here’s some more.

The council member from the northwest part of the San Fernando Valley (John Lee) has decided that:

  1. The COVID pandemic was unforseeable. Except, of course, it was totally foreseen, California and Los Angeles reacted earlier and more stringently than most places, and immediately planning started to try and protect our most vulnerable members.
  2. All of the things done for the homeless during the pandemic failed. Except for the programs forbidding sweeps, opening more shelter space, and converting unused motel rooms (and a roller rink in one case) into more housing. Oh… and approving building on permanent housing for the unhoused as well.
  3. Therefore (c) we’ve got to start sweeping them off the streets again using force. Because, you know, having tents and trash on “his streets” makes Lee look bad. He’d prefer them in prison or out of sight completely.

And this is where Lee’s supporters of inhumane behavior come in with excuses. For example: “We have this astronomical homeless problem. Most of them are not from California.” Prove it. Let’s see the state budget items that say “One way ticket to Los Angeles”.

There’s the typical follow-up to that. “They” are all on drugs. Or lazy. Or prone to repetitive criminal behavior. Useless. I have to point out, repeatedly that these are neighbors and that everyone in L.A. is one economic recession, fire, or earthquake away from being just as homeless. No one is “safe”.

These are not exaggerations.

I have been threatened with violence for defending the homeless. I have dealt with people who take glee in the fact that someone was setting homeless tents in Chatsworth on fire. They might even have been responsible for it. Their friends were saying we should “ship all the homeless to the desert” (implying, leaving them there to die).

Just as a historical footnote, there is one time the government (federal) actually sent people to California cities. The Indian Relocation Act in 1956. A major attempt at cultural genocide, the amount of racism and despair that it stirred up still has repercussions today, which I got to witness firsthand, multiple times. Most of the time, governments try to ship people out (the bounty on Indian scalps, Mazinar, supporting ICE)

The myth of the hordes coming to get us is an old one that obscures the problem. In the end, it doesn’t matter why people came here.

We help our neighbors. Because, we are all in this together.

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