In May 2017 Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, represented by Carol Sobel, filed suit in federal district court against the City of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, and some cop named Officer Kenny. The basis of the complaint is that Kenny ordered Pete White’s 2016 arrest while he was lawfully filming LAPD interactions with homeless people on Skid Row. Pete White claims, and it seems right to me, that he was arrested in retaliation for his activism on behalf of homeless residents of Skid Row.
For some reason, this suit does not seem to have been reported on in the real news media, and I’m interested, so I’ll be at least collecting the pleadings here. You can find them:
I just recently received a few hundred pages of emails from Estela Lopez, voodoo queen of the Central City East Association, and they are available on Archive.Org and also directly from static storage. Most of it is the unmitigatedly tedious bullshit with which these BIDdies fill their lives and their inboxes, but, as usual, there are a few interesting items. I already wrote the other day about Estela Lopez’s aggressive foray into CPRAlandia, and here are a few other items that are worth looking at individually:
The incomparable Emily Alpert Reyes has the story in this morning’s Times and we have the primary sources, hot off of PACER! As long as I was getting these pleadings, I figured I’d go ahead and get the ones from the case he filed last July as well,2 and all of them are available here:
The text for this morning’s sermon, brothers and sisters, is from the Gospel of Thomas:5
Listen! A sower went out to sow. He filled his hand and cast the seed. Some fell on the road; the birds came and ate the seed. Others fell on the rock, sprouted, and dried up. And others fell on the thorns, which choked them and insects ate them. And others fell on the fertile ground of freaking Tony Hoover, founder of freaking Red Line Tours, and multiplied a freaking zillionfold into a veritable magic freaking beanstalk of crazy.
Well, the disciples of Jesus also didn’t get what he was talking about, so I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about having to fill in some backstory.
See, last week, according to the Beverly Press, Councilmoppet Mitch O’Farrell announced that he and now-retired-from-his-position-as-clean-government-poster-boy-but-still-active-as-Councilmember-more’s-the-freaking-pity David Ryu of CD4 had introduced a motion in Council to put an end to what they claim to see as the desperate, wanton, willful, and ongoing destruction of what passes for the quality of life of people who actually live in Hollywood by tour bus operators on the Boulevard, mostly between Orange and Vine. It’s something about how they try to hand you flyers and ask you where you’re from even though you are obviously from Los Angeles.6
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to this blog at all, you will immediately suspect that (a) neither Mitch O’Farrell nor David Ryu give the first flying fuck about tour buses on Hollywood Boulevard and (b) they are channeling the concerns of that master covert lobbyist and famously blue-nosed Mrs. Grundy whose nom de Hollywood is Ms. Kerry Morrison.7 Kerry Morrison is, as is her wont, concerned about what she calls “civility on the public right of way” and the rest of us call “killing off or at least arresting everyone who scares her or doesn’t have a lot of money.”
I have not yet had time to track down records pertaining to the current incarnation of Kerry Morrison’s obsession with tour buses.8 But the story in the paper reminded me that I had a bunch of unprocessed material from the City Attorney from 2012 on this very subject. So I put that all together and put it up on the Archive (as well as locally if you prefer), where you can read it at will. It concerns a so-called “Tour Bus Working Group,” put together by Kerry Morrison and including the usual representatives of the City and the Hollywood zillionaire elite.
Last month Judge Dean Pregerson heard oral arguments on the City’s motion to dismiss this suit, filed by the Venice Justice Committee against the City of Los Angeles in opposition to its ham-fisted attempts to regulate speech on the Venice Boardwalk. Today he filed his order denying the motion to dismiss in part and granting it in part as well. Pregerson’s a lively writer, and the order makes interesting reading. There are three main issues addressed in the order.
First up, the City regulates vending on the Boardwalk in various ways, but contains an exception for soliciting donations and other activities protected by the First Amendment. Plaintiff Peggy Lee Kennedy was evidently told on a couple of occasions by LAPD officers that asking for donations was vending and that she had to stop or face arrest. Everyone agrees that these cops were in the wrong, but the question before the Court seems to have been whether the law “as applied” was unconstitutional. Pregerson found that it was not, and accordingly dismissed the parts of the complaint that had to do with that claim.
Second,11 the Plaintiffs made claims under the Bane Act, which allows people to sue if their constitutional rights were violated maliciously. Pregerson found that even assuming that the Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were violated, they weren’t violated maliciously. I’m skipping some details, but that’s essentially why he also dismissed this cause of action.
Late last night the plaintiffs filed a searing opposition to last month’s defendants motion to dismiss. Part of the plaintiffs’ argument relies on the fact that the Boardwalk is actually a public sidewalk, and in support of that argument they also filed a request for judicial notice that included a certified copy of the deed by means of which Abbott Kinney gave the boardwalk to the City (of Ocean Park; Los Angeles didn’t get it until 1926). To understand the issues it may be useful to look at the text of LAMC §42.15.
The issue is whether or not the Boardwalk is a public forum. If it is, the First Amendment places a very, very high barrier before the City’s attempt to regulate speech there at all. Sidewalks, as opposed to City-sponsored Disneylandesque bullshit tourist-trap money magnets, are quintessential public forums,13 and this is the heart of the argument:14
The Venice Boardwalk is a traditional public forum long recognized by the City as perhaps the most prominent free speech area in the City. Although called a “boardwalk,” this pedestrian passageway is a public sidewalk, deeded to the City as a sidewalk in perpetuity in 1906. See Plaintiffs’ Request for Judicial Notice and Exhibit 1.
Public sidewalks “occupy a ‘special position in terms of First Amendment protection’ because of their historic role as sites for discussion and debate[.]” They are the locations where people encounter speech they “might otherwise tune out.” “From time immemorial,” public sidewalks have been locations where “normal conversation and leafleting” have occurred as part of the First Amendment’s guarantee of “sharing ideas.” Indeed, public sidewalks are, perhaps, the most important traditional public forum because of their availability at any time at no cost.
We have written many a post about Kerry Morrison’s weirdly obsessive hatred of the street characters at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and how she uses the power of her BID to attack them at every turn. Her surreality-based antipathy has at various times inspired her co-conspirators at the LAPD to crack down heavily on these performers, even to the point where Carol Sobel had to sue the cops in Federal Court to stop the neurotic vendetta.
She’s spent at least a decade railing against these characters and working with the City Attorney, the City Council, private attorneys, everyone in sight, without notable success, to ban their activities, to stop them wearing masks, to require them to wear identity badges, to conflate them with terrorists, and so on. Well, we’ve been looking into the matter a little more deeply, and today we’re here to tell you a story about street characters, the KKK, domestic terrorism, anti-mask laws, and property values in Hancock Park.1 First let’s take a little trip through 7 years worth of the minutes of the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, concentrating on the street characters of Hollywood and Kerry Morrison’s efforts to thwart them by any means necessary:
June 2006—Morrison and Deputy City Attorney Bill Kysella have drafted a resolution for consideration by Council President Eric Garcetti that the City Attorney’s office work with the Hollywood Entertainment District and the Hollywood Division of the LAPD to evaluate potential solutions to document the identity of the street characters and performers, regulate their activities, and ban the use of masks in the interests of protecting public safety on the public right-of-way within the Hollywood Enterainment District.
Pleadings filed by the City of Los Angeles yesterday in Mitchell v. Los Angeles reveal that the Bureau of Sanitation confiscates and destroys pornography in the possession of homeless people, putting it on a par with hazardous and/or toxic material and other contraband. This practice is consistent with the moralizing attitude taken by LAPD RESET2 on their Twitter feed towards similarly legal activities when carried out by the homeless, e.g., alcohol consumption.