EPISODE 51 – ECHO PARK SUN RISING

For the 51st episode of our podcast, notes on the recent spate of attacks against Asian American & Pacific Islander communities, the assault on Echo Park by L.A. City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s office, and the importance of events at Echo Park this month for City Council District 13 going into the district’s biggest election ever in 2022.

J.T.

An Open Letter to Mitch O’Farrell’s Office in CD-13; 439 Days to June 7, 2022

On behalf of a critical segment of residents in East Hollywood, this office can now keep for its records that the level of abandonment towards unhoused residents in the 13th district in the years leading up to COVID-19, and then during the year of stay-at-home orders, has gone from derelict to criminal and back again.

As if to add further injury to insult of the principles that CD-13’s office should stand for, actions taken at Mitch O’Farrell’s and homeowners’ direction to forcibly remove unhoused residents and housing-insecure residents as well as their supporters in Echo Park this week are fascistic at their core, and obvious as such to all but this office and the homeowners whose wealth and property values they seek to protect by so doing; O’Farrell’s decision to undermine the unhoused at Echo Park also mirrors what real estate appraisers sought to do in the 1940s when they redlined property values against Negroes and “foreign families.”

In the 1940s, explicit prohibitions against homeownership by non-whites were legal, but not right nor humane. In 1948, when racial covenants were banned by the Supreme Court, it was largely due to pressure by African-American civil rights organizing in our cities, as well as because of a need for the U.S. judicial system to distinguish the U.S. from “[Soviet] communism,” that is, at least on paper. But today, while deploying police officers paid for by tax dollars extracted from a city that’s 3/4ths non-white against unsheltered bodies, 3/4ths of whom are non-white, may still be technically legal, it is as wrong and inhumane as previous removal policies in Los Angeles and California, which special rapporteur for the United Nations, Philip Alston, as much as noted in 2017.

These issues are not just temporarily emotional or online issues for us either, but issues we live with each day as we walk through our avenues, open up our shops, and make our way to and from work inside of the 13th district; many of us preceded Mitch O’Farrell’s term here–and also Garcetti’s from 2001 – 2012–and will outlast O’Farrell’s tenure, but make no mistake about it: the damage wrought on our community by O’Farrell’s and Garcetti’s dedication to Business Improvement Districts, hotel and condominium developers, and entitled home “owners” will take our community generations to recover from.

We also know the office is fond of sending newsletters to constituents noting their “clean-ups,” but until June 7, 2022, the only clean-up we’d like to see is of Mitch O’Farrell’s office on Sunset boulevard. The “flight” of white supremacy and its proponents in the 13th district, who regard our unhoused residents only as “blight” on our streets–truly the pots calling kettles black, given that these streets belong most of all to the renters and workers who share them–will also be a welcome reprieve.

J.T.

J.T. The L.A. Storyteller Supports Calls to Block Garcetti this Winter

As Los Angeles enters the 2021 winter season, a new initiative known as Garcettiville is calling for Mayor Garcetti to be blocked from a potential appointment to the incoming Biden administration’s cabinet following reports that his name may be on a short-list for secretary of transportation, or possibly even for secretary of housing. Yes, you read that correctly.

In addition to daily protests led by Black Lives Matter and GroundGame-LA calling for the mayor to ‘be kept in’ L.A., the Garcettiville website is accepting submissions from L.A. residents as to why the mayor should not be allowed anywhere near a public office.

After nearly 20 years as an elected official, starting in 2001 as a council member for District 13 in Los Angeles, and then since 2013 as mayor, under Garcetti’s leadership the city of L.A. is on track to landing more than 50,000 bodies on its streets and sidewalks within the next year alone, even while there are tens of thousands of luxury housing units in L.A. that can be commandeered in lieu of expanded powers for mayors due to the emergency presented by the pandemic; powers which have just sat there aimlessly, accumulating nothing but dust.

This is because while Garcetti has done everything in his power to open up the city for business, that is, for big banks and transnational corporations, he’s done it by no less than trading in the rights of workers, immigrants, and Black Los Angeles to live in a more equitable city. Despite myriads of protest, civil rights advocates, and other leaders calling for him to do better, the mayor has proven unwilling to serve as an actual representative for every resident who actually resides and pays the taxes funding his salary each year.

As a result, whether Garcetti leaves office in 2021 or 2022, by almost every measure, since the start of his tenure in 2013, L.A. has become a poorer, more unhealthy, and more hostile grounds towards its working-class communities, which will take decades to undo.

This is also not just a viewpoint from the “radical” left. In 2017, professor Philip Alston, assigned by the United Nations as a Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said of his visit to Los Angeles:

“In June 2017, it was reported that the approximately 1,800 homeless individuals on Skid Row in Los Angeles had access to only nine public toilets. Los Angeles failed to meet even the minimum standards the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sets for refugee camps in the Syrian Arab Republic and other emergency situations.”

The writing is on the wall, and people all over the world can see: Garcetti is not fit to serve in any public office in Los Angeles, let alone a national one in Washington D.C. Visit the new Garcettiville website and tell your side of the story.

J.T.