This is the first in an occasional series of posts examining various episodes from the rich and disturbing history of the criminalization of sidewalk use in Los Angeles. As we shall see, the sidewalks of our city have been a site of contention for well over a century.
We begin in January 1887 when, according to the Los Angeles Times,
There has been great complaint about the abominable fashion in which the sidewalks—especially at street corners—are blocked up by loafers and by thoughtless citizens; and the police have been ordered to enforce the ordinances and abate this nuisance.1
Watch the first minute of this video and see, in 2010, some BID Patrollies confront and accuse a man of “blocking the sidewalk”:
Officer: OK, so do me that favor and just get up and go somewhere cause you’re blocking the sidewalk.
Man: Not blocking the sidewalk, people got places to walk right past me.
Today’s text, brothers and sisters, as we begin to return to action after celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior, is Hosea 8:1-7:
…[T]hey have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. Hollywood shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Hollywood hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off… For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…
Image of Hosea by Duccio di Buoninsegna is in the public domain and available via Wikimedia here.
Today I uploaded 14 videos obtained from the HPOA under the California Public Records Act. You can see them here or via the drop-down menu structure or here. There are more videos to follow, although probably not immediately.
No one here has had time to watch these thoroughly yet. If you see something we should write about please drop a line. Meanwhile, in this video from December 2009, you can see an LAPD officer calmly and deliberately use his taser on a prone, unresisting man (at 6:40), contrary to both human decency and LAPD policy (see §573 Use of Non-Lethal Control Devices). The victim’s last words before he’s tased? “I ain’t doing nothing.” And he ain’t, either.
Louis Brandeis famously stated that “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. And publicity has already played an important part in the struggle against the Money Trust.”1
On October 23, 2014, an Army veteran wrote to Devin Strecker of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, among others, the following words:
This morning on my way to work, I was standing waiting to cross the street when I look over and see the gentleman on the left in the picture attached, grasping his weapon as if to draw his fire arm all while chatting away with the gentleman on the right. As I continued to wait to cross the street, I noticed the gentleman on the left start to pull out actually draw his weapon about 4-5 inches out of his holster. All the while standing chatting with his partner. I am ex army infantry, when we even had our hand TOUCHING our holstered weapon, there better had been a life threatening reason to even touch our holstered weapon.
These words Thomas Carlyle, in his great history of the French revolution, put into the mouths of a vast mob of sans-culottes, on their way to plant a Tree of Liberty in the Jardin des Tuileries.1 Even those maligned symbols of mob rule and terror realized that the law is the only salvation of a free people. How then do the members of the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Media District BID, a group to whom has been granted every privilege that law can devise, come to dishonour2 it so?
While my literarily profligate colleagues lounge around MK.org secret headquarters drinking cheap wine and writing reams of nonsense about the antic shenanigans of the HPOA I, at least, am working hard to provide actual documentary evidence to you, dear reader. I am pleased to announce the availability of the first fruits of a recent Public Records request to HPOA, faithfully fulfilled by the ever-helpful Kerry Morrison. This set of documents consists of all disclosable emails between HPOA and A/I for the dates October 1, 2014 through November 12, 2014.
As we previously discussed, the Hollywood Media District BID recently expanded the size of its board of directors in order to include Joseph Varet, who told the assembled worthies that he wanted to be on the board “to contribute my own non-profit/for-profit board experience to just contribute towards further…uh…developing the district in a positive and sustainable way.” We don’t know about you, but, to paraphrase Hanns Johst, “Wenn ich überzeugt und nachhaltige höre … entsichere ich meinen Browning!”1
By request I’ve added a new page to the header which explains the various players in the game we’re covering along with some common acronyms for them. It’s hard to sort these things out, God knows, but I hope this will help. Please email or leave a comment if you’d like me to define more terms.