A police cruiser is stopped at a light on Sunset boulevard and Vermont avenue.

Know your Neighborhood: Being Policed in Los Feliz vs Silver Lake vs East Hollywood

Over a five year period, from 2012 – 2017, the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) project compiled data for estimated costs of arrests by both the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) across neighborhoods, community college areas, Metro subways and bus lines in L.A., and more.

Data taken from LAPD show areas where people were arrested from 2012 – 2017, how many days those people were detained, and “price tags” for booking and detainment, which is to say the costs for time that people spent under arrest at LAPD stations before arraignment or release.

Data taken from LASD took into account home addresses–when available–of all people booked into jail by the sheriffs from 2012 – 2017, which are not shown in the data set for obvious reasons, as well as the total number of days those people spent incarcerated, and the average daily cost of their time within the L.A. County Jail system, which is the largest jail system in the whole United States. Additionally, the data set for LASD’s arrests shows the level of alleged offenses by detainees, or whether detainees were held for misdemeanor or felony charges.

The following are a set of statistics taken from the MDH project for the Los Feliz, Silver Lake and East Hollywood areas in Central L.A., which show major disparities between which racial groups are policed in any given area, as well as between expenses accrued for people arrested in different areas even while those areas just walking distances from one another.

Beginning with Los Feliz, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $607,237 to cover costs for 1,333 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,642 days. During that same time, the LASD spent at least $272,892 for 133 people arrested in Los Feliz, and whose collective time detained amounted to at least 1,737 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Los Feliz amounted to at least $880,129 for 4,379 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

Also keep in mind that in Los Feliz, as recently as 2008, the median household income was $50,793, about the same as the amount for L.A. County at the time. Not surprisingly, while Blacks made up just 2.2% of the population of Los Feliz, they showed up as 13% of those arrested there, or nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos, who made up for 14.2% of the population, appeared as 25% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. By contrast, whites, who made up 67% of the population in Los Feliz, accounted for about 40% of arrests by LAPD there.

In the Silver Lake area, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $641,943 to cover costs for 1,313 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,793 days. During that same time, the LASD spent at least $331,673 for 149 people arrested in Silver Lake whose time detained totaled over 2,142 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Silver Lake amounted to at least $973,616 for 4,935 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

As recently as 2008, the median household income in Silver Lake was $54,339, also about the same as the amount for L.A. County at the time. Similarly to Los Feliz, while Black people made up just 3.4% of the population, they accounted for over 14% of those arrested by LAPD there, or over four times their demographic share. Latinos, who comprised just over 35% of the population, accounted for 52% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. Whites made up 43% of the population in Silver Lake, but accounted for only 25% of arrests by LAPD there.

Less than a few square miles from Los Feliz or Silver Lake, the most vulnerable geographic area in the vicinity proves to be the most policed. Over a five year period, East Hollywood saw more expenditures for policing and jail time than Los Feliz and Silver Lake combined and multiplied twice over. The LAPD spent at least $3,454,495 to cover costs for 6,852 people arrested in the area, whose time in detention amounted to a jaw-dropping 15,030 days, or three times the rate of time in jail for those arrested in either Los Feliz or Silver Lake. At the same time, the LASD spent at least $1,487,910 for 516 people arrested, whose time detained totaled over 9,981 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in this area amounted to at least $4,942,405 for 25,011 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

By 2008, the median household income for East Hollywood was $29,927, or nearly half of that of L.A. county at the time. Blacks made up just 2.4% of the population, but still accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD, once again nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos made up for just over 55% of the population, but accounted for 65% of those arrested by LAPD. Whites, who made up 24% of the population of East Hollywood, accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD there.

Additionally, in all three neighborhoods, males made up more than 3/4ths of those arrested by LAPD, while females accounted for 1/4th of those arrested. What’s also true is that at least half of the charges filed against people by the LASD were misdemeanors, though it should be noted that even misdemeanors on people of colors’ records can prove fatal for their chances at employment. Furthermore, as noted by the folks at MDH regarding their research methodology for these data:

“While the County Auditor-Controller calculations include variable costs (like staffing costs, travel and supplies), overhead costs, utilities costs, and accounting adjustments, our calculations only include variable costs. As a result, our estimates may be interpreted as conservative (emphasis mine): they do not include costs associated with building facilities and keeping the lights on, administrating the jail system as a sub-unit of county government, providing health care, or interfacing with the law enforcement and court systems.”

Even statisticians will admit that no data set tells the whole story, but the MDH project’s data allow communities to consider just how many taxpayer dollars go yearly towards disproportionately jailing not only people of color, particularly Black and Latino people in Los Angeles, but those within just a handful of areas inside of L.A. County.

In particular, communities within the areas of this comparison can now consider the disproportionate level of jail time and detention costs for arrests in East Hollywood, where more than 52% of the Asian and Latino communities who make up almost 3/4ths of the area are “foreign-born,” compared to the amount of costs and jail time for arrests in neighboring Los Feliz and Silver Lake, which are substantially whiter neighborhoods. Clearly, the state has a concerted interest in continuing to target Blacks, Latinos and working class immigrants wherever they may be clustered in Los Angeles, which also happen to be the groups which have seen the least amount of support for housing, education, and fair employment in Los Angeles over the 172 years since the state of California was forcibly taken by the U.S. from Mexico.

As if to add insult to injury, in a sheriff’s document online listed by the MDH study, the front page informs readers that their department’s motto is “a tradition of service since 1850.” Clearly, such “service” refers to a very different entity than the one so many tend to imagine when they think of this “Golden State.”

J.T.

The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 97)

Andrés Guardado’s and Terron Jammal Boone’s deaths at the hands of L.A. County sheriff officers in Los Angeles this past week cannot go in vain: they serve as crucial reminders that the people of Los Angeles can settle for nothing less than reclaiming their spaces from the police state before police cause more harm.

Even at this time of heightened tensions between communities of color and law enforcement across America, the L.A. County Sheriff’s department has shown no willingness to ban or even begin discussing a ban of its fatal policies against Black & Brown civilians, even after killing two Black & Brown men within just days of each other during the week of June 14th. At a meeting at L.A. City Hall this past Monday, June 22nd, L.A. City Council Member Curren Price said of Andrés Guardado’s death:

“He was shot by a sheriff deputy, but as far as the community’s concerned, he was shot by police, by law enforcement…That tragic death just underscores the conversation that’s happening all over this country.”

In East Hollywood, since March 16th of this year, sheriff deputies have guarded more than 1.5 million square feet of LACC’s campus, making it completely inaccessible for thousands of nearby students, workers, and other community members, the vast majority of whom are people of color and immigrants, but who also count African-American, disabled, elderly folks, and trans people within the community.

Signs posted around the campus state that authorized persons must “check-in” with the L.A. County sheriffs to be allowed on campus, but how can that procedure possibly feel safe for Black & Brown people?

At first, the campus’s closing-off was admittedly in line with the uniform policy across L.A. County, under the notion that it was a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection. More than three months later, however, when much of the city is “reopening” due to data suggesting we may now be getting ahead of the virus–at least, according to our public officials–the LACC campus continues idling by aimlessly, with sheriff SUVs and other vehicles guarding off the entrance. It does not feel safe for Black & Brown people, but is probably the most dangerous to the scores of unhoused residents who set up their tents around the area.

Only a few weeks ago, I recall passing by the campus while an African-American woman sat on the curb on Heliotrope drive, perhaps resting from a jog or workout, only to have two sheriff officers call out to her from behind the fences separating the campus from the sidewalk, presumably to make sure she wasn’t “posing a threat.” It shouldn’t need to be stated that if not for one or two slight gestures, she could have been moments away from being shot, but time after time we forget this is exactly how it happens across America. Moreover, I’m confident that several more of these types of instances have taken place around the campus grounds, but that they’ve gone mostly unreported since Black, Brown, and other working-class communities have simply come to view such harassment as typical of police officers.

Instead of having armed law enforcement encroaching upon unarmed citizens who actually reside in the community, however, LACC’s 1.5 million square footage should now be making space accessible to these groups.

For one, the campus can be used as a testing site for COVID-19, or as a location for limited exercising, as is the case at Dodger stadium and Elysian Park in Angeleno Heights. For another, LACC’s benches should be made accessible once again for pedestrians looking to take refuge from the exhausting rush of car traffic along Vermont avenue, just as its green spaces should be made accessible again for picnicking or meditation. There is also much that can be done with the campus’s air conditioning in order to help the community cool off with the onset of summer. One way or another, it’s time to innovate. But whatever alternative use for campus instead of clustering large groups of people, this I’m certain of:

The L.A. County Sheriff’s department has no grounds to be left as overseers of the college. It belongs most of all to students, student workers, and the various other community members in the vicinity. They form the community in the “community college.”

If any of this sounds extraordinary, remember that even the Los Angeles Public Library community has taken its own LAPL Board of Commissioners to task, calling for the board to divest in police at our public libraries, since police only serve to intimidate and incarcerate our city’s most vulnerable populations there; they also intimidate Black & Brown library workers into “walking a fine line” for fear that they may be confused as a threat by police officers. Only in America.

It’s therefore time for members of the Los Angeles City College community to call for the reopening of our campus, hand-in-hand with the dismissal of armed law enforcement for the benefit of our community and to prevent any more unnecessary bloodshed and loss of life for our families. If the weeks since the unrest in Minneapolis have shown anything, it’s that after marching, there is organizing, making our voices heard, and standing resolutely in our pursuit of a safer world for our being. We deserve it.

J.T.

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