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.

A military plane, presumably belonging to the National Guard, flies above Los Angeles

In Pictures: A Week that Changed Los Angeles for A Generation

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 80)

A group of police officers, sheriffs, and National Guard service-members at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A group of police officers, sheriffs, and National Guard service-members at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A line of National Guard service-members guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A National Guard truck gets ready to make a turn on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer, sheriff, and National Guard service-member guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer, sheriff, and National Guard service-member guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer and National Guard service-member exchange a word at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer and National Guard service-member exchange a word at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A crowd of protesters gathered on North Spring street
A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles
A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer holds what appears to be a rubber bullet rifle at L.A. City Hall
A police officer holds what appears to be a rubber bullet rifle at L.A. City Hall
A protester holds a sign at a protest in front of L.A. City Hall
A protester holds a sign at a protest in front of L.A. City Hall
A helicopter circles around L.A. City Hall, monitoring protests
A helicopter circles around L.A. City Hall, monitoring protests
A police SUV cruises by on Hill street in downtown Los Angeles
A police SUV cruises by on Hill street in downtown Los Angeles
Police cruisers parked along 1st street and Hope street in Los Angeles
Police cruisers parked along 1st street and Hope street in Los Angeles

“The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation…We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” – James Mattis, Former Secretary of Defense of the United States with more than 50 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Forces

J.T.

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A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles

LAPD officers Now Face a Crucial Choice: To stand with policies as they are, or stand for a change, even within their own ranks

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 78)

As of 2018, according to Police Chief Michel Moore, Black, Asian and Latino police officers make up at least 60% of LAPD’s force in Los Angeles.

However, the Board of Directors for the police union, known as the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which works to “protect, promote, and improve the working conditions, legal rights, compensation and benefits of Los Angeles police officers,” is made up of nine officers, including just one Black woman, two white women, and six white men.

In other words, the board is not an accurate representation of what the majority of police officers in L.A. look like, and by extension, what their values are, as well as where they may see room to work along with members of the community in Los Angeles for the betterment of the public good.

The board of police commissioners, on the other hand, which “sets overall policy while the Chief of Police manages the daily operations of the Department and implements the Board’s policies or policy direction and goals,” is slightly more representative, but might be said to still fall short of “a fair share.” Made up of five mayor-appointed representatives, overseeing a police force where 60% of officers hail from Black, Asian and Latino communities, one could expect these groups to have, say, three out of five seats on the board.

Instead, two white women and one white man take up 60% of the board seats, while one Black man, and one Latina woman account for 40%. In a democratic country, numbers like this suggest we still have a ways to go before achieving an actual functioning democracy.

It’s therefore a good time for every LAPD officer to ask themselves: In the best case scenario, what might the future of policing look like in Los Angeles? For whom should police work, and how?

If there was ever a time for departments, organizations, and individuals everywhere in America to reflect on their own practices and representation, clearly that time has now arrived. And if there’s going to be any meaningful process of change and perhaps even reconciliation, clearly we have to ask these and more questions.

J.T.

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Police cruisers parked along 1st street and Hope street in Los Angeles

To the Board of Police Commissioners in Los Angeles: Your Time Has Come

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 76)

The following is a statement edited for publication on the site and delivered by yours truly to the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) in Los Angeles, in what would turn out to be eight hours’ worth of public comments for the meeting this past Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020.

LAPD COMMISSION:

I want to echo all of the Black & Brown voices who have made themselves heard at this public meeting thus far.

I want to commend the public for their bravery in speaking against this police and military state that we are seeing unfold across our city and across cities all over America.

To the board:

You have a chance to be on the right side of history
by standing against the militarization of the state in response to working class communities marching for an end to genocidal practices against Black and Brown bodies.

Even before the protests, you were already overseeing a caste system in the L.A. County Jail with a daily population of more than 17,000 people, where Black people make up 29% of that jail system while making up less than 9% of the population in Los Angeles.

You, the board members, have a chance not to stand with the fascists. You all heard the president just yesterday declare war against unarmed Black & Brown people, even while only a few days earlier he praised armed white militias for standing for liberty against covid-19 restrictions.

Mayor Garcetti originally said he would not be calling the National Guard. An hour later, he called the National Guard. You’re closer to fascism than you would like to think.

You all need to call for the national guard to LEAVE. They’re armed with M-4 assault rifles and intimidating our community and you are standing by, doing nothing.

You need to call to disarm the LAPD right this second, who, in line with police departments across the country, are battering and injuring unarmed civilians.

You’re closer to fascism than you think.

You have enough blood and injuries on your hands already, but you still have a chance to scale all of this down before it gets worse.

If you think today’s meeting has been long, just wait until the summer when more than 2.5 million people are out of work and looking into their city’s budget, and into the leaders and representatives tasked with overseeing the interests of the people.

Finally, consider that you live in a city where more than half of the population speaks a language other than English at home, yet you offer no captions for non-English speakers.

How much do you really want to hear from your city?

J.T.

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By Escalating the Police State, Mayor Garcetti Is Officially L.A.’s First White Supremacist Mayor of the 21st Century

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 73)

History now records that every injury inflicted on defenseless protestors in L.A. this week comes from a mayor whose billion-dollar police force could only bulldoze and bully unarmed citizens exercising their first-amendment rights to protest the modern-day lynching of Black bodies, and whom, even after an annual budget of more than a billion dollars for weapons and training for those forces, still needs Governor Newsom’s support to smother free speech and the right to assembly in Los Angeles.

Let there be no mistake about it: at this critical moment in our nation’s history, by calling the National Guard to intimidate and arrest defenseless protestors, Mayor Garcetti is now the first white supremacist mayor of L.A. in the 21st century, no better than a “Proud Boy” thug in Atwater Village claiming “defense” of white supremacy as his uniform glorifies blood spewed from Black & Brown bodies.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider that the mayor’s curfew and call for the national guard on Saturday night comes less than 12 hours before the president’s label of the so-called “ANTIFA” (aka known as the ANTIFASCIST) association as a “terrorist group,” despite providing no evidence to support the claim that the group, which is known as a loose coalition of anti-racist activists, engages in anything related to terrorism.

That is, unless the official policy of the state is that any movement against white supremacy is so offensive to whiteness it must be deemed “terrorist.” The open-air prison is now in plain sight. Enter prison warden Garcetti.

But the mayor’s decision to escalate police reinforcements rather than deescalate their numbers doesn’t just place him in the company of Donald Trump. It also comes at a time when mayors across urban cities in the United States have a choice to either stand with their citizens in calling for an end to Jim Crow policies for Black and Brown bodies, or stand against them in support only of the extension of those same policies. Just one of these choices historically costs Black and Brown bodies their lives. Garcetti has chosen the latter.

Consider also that the mayor, like Governor Newsom, certainly calls on the federal government to support the state and L.A.’s economic shortcomings this year due to reduced tax revenue. So why can’t they stand with L.A. calling on the state and federal governments to stop supporting the killing of unarmed Black people?

Additionally, I encourage every reader to ask these questions: exactly what gives Garcetti the right to escalate police forces at this time? And why is L.A. City Council not convening at these hours to veto the mayor’s baseless invitations to the national guard on our city? What expertise for crisis management has Garcetti shown during 7 years spent shoving & arresting our unhoused instead of sheltering them? Or during the last two months in which he’s failed to house even two-tenths of our 15,000 most vulnerable unhoused residents? Or are these failures precisely what qualify him to play top cop?

L.A. City Council’s failure to convene at this time also exposes that the body is weak outside the realm of green lights for real estate tycoons, with its council-members sitting separately at this time and apparently with no prior knowledge of any of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s orders. That’s a clear example of what democracy DOES NOT look like.

J.T.

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How arrests in our community stoke memories of collective trauma

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 53)

On the drive back home the other night I found myself behind the steering wheel looking for a parking spot. It must have been just slightly past 7:30 pm. When I made the turn onto my street-which rarely has an open space but which I gave a shot anyway-I was struck by an unnerving sight: a police car parked in the middle of the street, its doors wide open, situated behind another car a few feet away that sat idly and without any passengers inside. I slowed down to survey what was going on. It was an arrest.

I slowly lifted my foot off the break to ease the car forward, when through the windshield I saw one of two police officers taking to a young man who looked to be somewhere in his early twenties, in a baseball cap and face-mask, and with his arms behind his back, presumably just moments away from being placed into the patrol car.

Less than ten feet away, I saw the second police officer pinning another young man likely in his early twenties in a baseball cap against the wall of the apartment complex a few feet removed from the curb. The police officer was searching him. From my open window on the passenger’s side, I could hear the young man pleading with the officer to ‘take it easy,’ that it was all an overreaction.

Ages ago when I was fifteen years old, a similar experience befell me and a group of other young folks in the neighborhood. But even if our experience at the hands of the Rampart police department was an anomaly, or something extraordinary, today I wouldn’t be able to count how many times over almost thirty years in the community I’ve seen police cars in the neighborhood just like the other night, escorting young people into custody more often than not.

I’m not alone in that sight. After maneuvering my car fully past the scene, I continued toward opposite side of the street from where I entered to try my chances for a curb elsewhere. A couple of minutes later, a few blocks away from home, I found a spot and quickly pulled my car alongside. I thought that would be the end of it, and that the police would just be gone by the time I walked back over. But some ten minutes after I first caught sight of the arrest, on turning the corner onto my street, things had barely moved an inch. The young man against the wall was still there, while the other was no longer in view, presumably inside the police cruiser. There were a few neighbors out, some walking their dogs, but none of us were exactly in the mood then for our usual polite greetings then.

As I paced forward, closing in on the gate outside my building meant literally getting physically closer to the arrest. I sped up my pace then, but found myself wrought by feelings of embarrassment for the young men, and feelings of inadequacy with myself for simply walking away, for not speaking up to ask what was going on and why they had to place these young men into handcuffs like that.

I asked myself if I should photograph the scene, if only to create a citizen’s record of the arrest, but decided against it. I understand it’s already humiliating enough to be subjected to the will of a police officer. A photograph of the event, which can be shared widely and haunt one for years, is all that less necessary.

Making my way past the gate and into the building, as sunset edged along the sky to leave the street with evening, I realized mom would be home soon. I thought of calling her to warn her about the miserable spectacle outside, but decided against that too, figuring the arrest would conclude just before she turned the corner with her cart along the sidewalk.

Turning the knob and stepping into my living room brought little reprieve. I took a set and sought anything to distance myself from wracked feelings, a simple distraction to shake it off my mind. But a few minutes later, I heard the familiar sound of mom’s cart rolling through the hallway. On arriving outside the door, she let the cart go roughly against it, which made a loud thumping sound, and which was unusual for her. On opening the door, I could see that mom was shaken. The arrest had lingered on and she saw everything; it brought back a trove of memories for her too.

J.T.

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Public Restroom at Vermont avenue & Santa Monica boulevard

LAPD will receive nearly 1.9 billion dollars next year while housing & community investment will lose millions

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 50)

In East Hollywood, walking through the neighborhood these last few days has led me to realize it’s going to get significantly more polluted over the next year, especially since the mayor has announced a budget for 2020-2021 with a reduced amount set aside for certain basics like clean-up & graffiti removal due to COVID-19. This column reviews just a handful of numbers taken from the mayor’s proposed budget for 2021: Exhibit A: Summary of Appropriations.

In fiscal year 2020-2021, the Bureau of Street Services, for one, which oversees street walkability and safety, including management of street trees and the urban islands where many of L.A.’s encampments can be spotted, nearly 32 million in pay-cuts from the previous year will leave the bureau with a total of $167.6 million for services in 2021.

Similarly, for the Housing and Community Investment department, a resource for L.A.’s renters and property owners alike, including for complaints or forms to report abuse, its budget will be slashed by almost 9 million for a total of $81.1 million through 2021.

Transportation, meanwhile, which runs and maintains services such as the DASH buses that particularly serve L.A.’s elderly population, will lose $6 million, operating on a budget of $180 million during the next fiscal year. Other investments on the local level, such as Neighborhood Empowerment, or funding for the Neighborhood Councils around which local citizens organize for their communities, will also have their budget reduced by over half a million, to operate on just $2.8 million for 2021.

But while these services, which for years have been under-resourced and over-worked, will have to make due with less the following year, the Los Angeles Police department will actually receive a pay-raise of 122.6 million, amounting to nearly $1.9 billion in payments from the city’s budget through 2021.

To place that into perspective, even L.A.’s Fire department will see only a third of LAPD’s pay-raise, with an increase of 44.6 million to operate on a budget of $732.2 million dollars through 2021.

Years ago, I remember getting together at least a couple of times with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, when it still organized neighborhood clean-ups once a month. Groups used to cover at least 3 – 4 blocks picking up trash and beautifying the neighborhood; gloves, brooms, rakes, large plastic bags, massive dumpsters, and a truck or two available for hauling were all provided by teamwork between various groups such as the neighborhood council, Mitch O’Farrell’s office, and more. It was literally some of the closest I’d ever felt to some of the city’s local leadership, and after a morning’s worth of the activity, I can still remember thinking how I could only want more of my peers alongside me for such work in the neighborhood, if only there was more support for it.

In the years since those days, there have been less clean-ups, and–as any local can tell you–definitely more encampments throughout East Hollywood. With budgets like the one proposed by the mayor’s office above, I fear the trend will continue down this way; the Los Angeles City Council will review the proposal during the next few weeks before it’s approved, and The L.A. Storyteller will continue close behind to report back.

J.T.

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