A group of homeless individuals and supporters marched with signs through parts of Venice Saturday, Dec. 11 to protest what they allege is a police crackdown targeting people living in vehicles.
Calling themselves the “Spirit of Venice Coalition,” the homeless advocates began the demonstration at the Windward Circle, continuing the march along Ocean Front Walk and into neighborhoods. They said they were hoping to draw attention to solutions that do not drive the homeless out of the community.
The action came after a federal lawsuit was filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and three other law firms on behalf of several vehicular homeless persons who alleged they have been targeted by police for selective enforcement because they are homeless.
In the wake of the lawsuit and the recent death of James Hunter, whose body was found in his vehicle, some of the protesters met with City Councilman Bill Rosendahl at his Westchester office Dec. 9 to urge a “Venice homeless holiday arrest moratorium.”
“We’re trying to bring light to a problem and believe that if we work as a community there’s nothing we can’t solve,” Lisa Green, one of the organizers and former candidate for the state Assembly, told reporters outside Rosendahl’s office. “We want to bring a face to homelessness.”
Some of the group members said they were pleased with the discussion with Rosendahl and hope to continue working with him on alternative solutions.
Rosendahl noted there is a city law that prohibits people from sleeping in their vehicles but he is working on amending that law to allow those who are forced to live in their vehicles and want to take part in a program to be able to park safely in designated areas overnight.