The Hancock Park house of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was vandalized during a protest against his signing of the sweeping homeless encampment ban signing Thursday night.
Garcetti signing the ordinance on Thursday was the final act of the encampment ban ordinance pursued for months by the majority of City Council members, and had the support of the majority of Los Angeles citizens. The ordinance bans lying, sitting, sleeping, and storing personal property on public land that blocks sidewalks, streets, and bike lanes, driveways, freeway overpasses, and on-ramps. In addition, homeless encampments will also not be allowed within 500 feet of a “sensitive facility” such daycare centers, driveways, fire hydrants, homeless shelters, libraries, schools, libraries, and parks under the ordinance.
The ordinance had been passed by an initial 13-2 vote in favor of the ordinance in the city council, but had to wait until Wednesday for a final vote. It passed there again, sending the ordinance to Garcetti’s desk. Many ordinance opponents had expected Mayor Garcetti to give the ordinance time while they could mount a last ditch movement to stop it from being signed. However, these hopes were abruptly dashed on Thursday when Mayor Garcetti announced that he had signed the ordinance.
While supporters of the ordinance celebrated the signing as a way to finally clean up the city property, help house homeless people, and to help bring public spaces back to the people, opponents decried the signing as “criminalizing homelessness,” and announced a subsequent protest outside Mayor Garcetti’s home that night.
Around 50 people showed up Thursday night according to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), with protesters demanding that Garcetti withdraw his signature from the ordinance. Signs seen during the protest clearly pointed to their reasons for being there, with some saying “5 Unhoused People A Day Die In Garcetti’s LA” and “Your Sweeps Are Violent! We Will Not Be Silent!”
However, the protesters quickly grew out of hand, becoming loud, and some began to graffiti and vandalize the property. LAPD officers in riot gear eventually showed up around midnight, officially ending the protest and leaving the Mayor’s property toilet papered, graffitied, and strewn with trash.
“No one was in danger. Our role last night was to facilitate a peaceful protest and make sure that everyone’s First Amendment rights were protected,” said LAPD Lt. Rex Ingram in a statement on Friday. “Unfortunately around midnight, they were a little bit loud and boisterous, and were getting a little out of hand, and that’s why we decided to give them a dispersal order.”
Expected backlash from encampment ban passage, signing
Supporters on the encampment ban told the Globe on Friday that they had expected backlash against the ordinances signing and that sweeping change like the ordinance was sure to bring protesters out.
“So many pro-homeless laws had been passed in the city before this, so when this happened, it kind of made them nuts,” explained LA parks activist Lawton Colfax, who has helped lead signature campaigns to remove the homeless from city parks in the past. “If you’ve been to LA recently, not only parks but entire sidewalks, overpasses and other areas are just lined with tents, trash, and other waste produced by the homeless being there. It makes the city look awful and stops members of the public from utilizing those areas. Walking on the sidewalk in some places is difficult, and some parks you can’t even go on a quick jog around without hitting a tent.
“The ordinance will help make those areas for everyone again, as well as give the homeless free shelter. This isn’t criminalizing the homeless at all, but homeless advocated have stuck to that, and as you saw last night, were anything but peaceful protesters. Garcetti finally does something big that helps the people, and a few people lose their minds”
As of Friday, no arrests have been made of those who vandalized Mayor Garcetti’s house. After Mayor Garcetti’s signing on Thursday, the ordinance is due to go into effect in 30 days time, meaning the ordinance officially comes into law on August 29th.
“LA is bringing back tourists and working towards the Olympics in 2028. The ordinance was needed sooner rather than later,” added Colfax.