The East Hollywood chapter of the L.A. Tenants Union, along with members of the United Neighborhood Defense Movement, held a rally and demonstration this afternoon in East Hollywood near Los Angeles City College. Marchers met and took turns calling to passersby over a megaphone at the intersection of Vermont avenue and Santa Monica boulevard, subsequently marching east on Santa Monica boulevard, and consolidating at the College Hotel building, next to the site of the recently-bulldozed East Hollywood Union Swap Meet. The College Hotel is also located just across the street from local chef and community gardener Heleo Leyva’s celebrated Community Cookouts that were recently covered by the L.A. Times.
Both the march and rally were organized after an attempted eviction at the College Hotel led to a tense standoff between police and protestors, followed by injuries and arrests of the protestors, according to one arrestee interviewed for this story.
Irving, who asked to be identified only by his first name, described how on the night of Sunday, December 6th, after an argument with the tenant, an elderly immigrant woman who was unable to pay rent recently due to the unexpected death of her husband a few months earlier this year, the manager called the LAPD to forcibly remove her. The woman was distraught by the call, which led to approximately five officers showing up to speak with the manager, but still managed to contact members of the @unitedhoodmvmt, as well as the @latueasthollywood. A total of about fifteen members of the groups arrived to the College Hotel, rallying in her support.
Before long, the group of five officers called for backup, to which approximately 50 LAPD personnel arrived, supported by police cruisers, 12 swat cars, and a police helicopter overhead.
According to Irving, the officers soon claimed that the protestors were trespassing on the property. Shortly thereafter, about three heavy-set officers tackled the elderly woman, outraging protestors. The standoff continued to escalate, ultimately leading to the injuring and arresting of at least eight of the protestors. Members of both the United Neighborhood Defense Movement as well as the Tenants Union quickly got to work to spread the word on social media, followed by organizing for this afternoon’s demonstration and march.
An L.A. County Ordinance is supposed to protect renters in rent stabilized order (RSO) units in effect until January 31, 2021, including units at the College Hotel, which was originally built in 1952 according to public records, but the ordinance has not stopped managers and landlords from filing for evictions, or trying to get tenants to ‘self-evict,’ especially in areas such as South Central Los Angeles.
The College Hotel in East Hollywood, a vicinity that while increasingly gentrifying is still predominantly comprised of immigrants and renters, is a part of L.A. City Council Member @mitchofarrell‘s district. To date, the Council Member’s office has not issued a statement on the arrests of protestors or the possibly illegal eviction attempt.