The Los Angeles City Council’s vote to extend a ban on homeless encampments nearby schools and daycare centers on Tuesday was interrupted by protesters who barge past security checkpoints, leading to arrests, injuries, and the vote being delayed for an hour.
In the past few years, Los Angeles, through the LA City Council, has passed several bans on homeless encampments and where they can be. Despite many homeless advocates protesting against and saying that it is leading to a worse situation, advocates say that it is for the safety of the public as well as for homeless people themselves. Bans for homeless set up near overpasses and other areas with constant traffic, as well as other smaller bans in parks and other locations, have led to advocates resorting to increasingly desperate measures.
Last week, during the initial City Council vote on an ordinance banning homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers, advocates delayed the City Council meeting in an attempt to both get media attention and to try and get Councilors to think twice. That failed, with the ordinance passing. However, with a final vote coming Tuesday, protestors decided to try it again, this time taking more extreme measures.
The ordinance was discussed in length on Tuesday, with the majority of City Council members supportive as a matter of public safety, in particular, the safety of children.
“Those who have argued that this doesn’t solve homelessness, doesn’t move us forward in this area, are absolutely right — but not on point,” explained Councilman Gil Cedillo. “The point of this measure is not to solve homelessness at all. The point of this measure is to protect safe passage to schools.”
Advocates for the homeless argued that the greater displacement would lead to making it harder for homeless outreach workers to get to them.
“Enforcement of anti-camping ordinances, then, only displaces people and makes it harder for trained outreach staff to establish trust again,” the homeless advocacy group People Assisting The Homeless said before the vote. “Residents of cleared encampments, unless connected to stable permanent housing through a trauma-informed case management process, often return to unsheltered homelessness.”
However, the arguments were to no avail as Councilmembers prepared to vote. That’s when protesters, shouting “Abolish 41.18” and threats against Councilmembers, managed to get through a security checkpoint outside the chamber and rushed in. The Council immediately called a recess while police were brought in to break up the small mob. Two were arrested by police, including one protestor who directly tried to attack the Council. Others were escorted out. Three working security received minor injuries during the breach.
Council approves ordinance in 11-3 vote
After an hour, the Council finally approved the ordinance in an 11-3 vote before ending the meeting for the day. After the vote, many Council members spoke out against the unruly mob interrupting the Council twice in the span of a week.
“In yet another attack on constitutional democracy, for the second time in a week, a small mob of extremists today again shut down a public meeting of the City Council,” said City Councilman Paul Krekorian in a statement on Wednesday. “In the process, they breached a security barrier, physically threatened the Council, and attacked police officers. One of them was arrested two feet from my desk.”
“There can never be any excuse or rationalization for this kind of anarchic lawlessness. The people of our nation cannot tolerate raging extremists entering public buildings and threatening public officials with the intent to shut down the government, no matter what their viewpoints may be.”
“Every Angeleno should be outraged by what happened today in their City Hall. Anyone who seeks to be a leader in this city must actively denounce this kind of nonsense in clear and unambiguous terms.”
Statement on today's disturbance at Los Angeles City Hall. pic.twitter.com/B1tlQb7MIK
— Paul Krekorian (@PaulKrekorian) August 10, 2022
Many security experts noted similarities between the mob on Tuesday and the infamous January 6th Capitol attack last year.
“It was a smaller scale January 6th in many ways,” Sergio Gonzalez, a security planner for many events in the LA and Inland Empire areas, told the Globe on Wednesday. “Both had impassioned crowds not wanting a vote to take place breaking in and disrupting a vote. Luckily the LA City Hall had enough security.”
“It’s hard to compare the two because of the scales and because they both wanted very different things, but if you pare down the scales of the two, there are a startling number of similarities. Basically though, you can’t let things like this happen. The legislative process needs to be preserved, and you can’t let people trying to get their way prevail over the system like that. And Democracy won out on Tuesday over people like that.”
Following Tuesday’s vote, the ordinance will need to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to become law.
“After what we saw Tuesday, Garcetti’s people will need to up security,” added Gonzalez. “The people against the ordinance have shown just how far they are willing to go on this.”