Recall, if you will, that in July 2016 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court on behalf of Los Angeles photographer Shawn Nee against the City of LA, Charlie Beck, and various LAPD officers, including Hollywood Division stalwart Stuart Jaye, famously dubbed Officer A-Hole by the incomparable Jasmyne Cannick.
A few weeks ago, Rory Carroll published an excellent article in The Guardian on how the City of Los Angeles has used gang injunctions as a tool of gentrification in Venice. Of course, this is not news to anyone who’s been paying attention since the injunction began in 2000. Even at the time it seemed clear that the injunction was a response to the wave of gentrification that began in Venice in the late 1980s and underwent unprecedented acceleration through the 1990s. Of course, everyone who’s smelting gold out of the housing stock of Oakwood in a blast furnace fueled by the burning bodies and lives of the poor people, the dark-skinned people, fed into the hopper by the LAPD, denies this every which way.
And these arguments have been repeated so often I have nightmares about them. “The cops would never ever do such a thing.” “There’s no conspiracy to chase out darkies.”1 And so on and on and on. But Venice’s own muse of slavering psychopathy, the very king of the gentrifiers, the universally acknowledged whitest man in Venice, Mark Ryavec himself, has distilled all of them, every last threadbare tin-foil-hat characterization, into one bitter pithy little ball. As Rory Carroll puts it:
For Mark Ryavec, head of the Venice Stakeholders Association, the notion that police act as gentrification agents is “a bunch of radical bullshit”.
I’ve written before on how the City of Los Angeles arranges for itself to be lobbied by BIDs for various reasons. Now it appears that even this usual arrangement wasn’t enough for Mike Bonin and Debbie Dyner Harris at CD11 with respect to the Venice Beach BID. In particular, during the formation process, in December 2015, Dyner Harris emailed Miranda Paster asking if she could have a voting seat on the BID Board of Directors:
Hi Miranda, how are you? I hope all is well. I am checking on something we had discussed a while ago, but I can’t find in my notes. I wanted to confirm whether or not the City, as 1/3 paying member of the BID,1 is allowed to be a voting member on the BID board.
Miranda Paster replied a few days later, stating:
We opt out of sitting on the Board because it may appear to be a conflict of interest. We can sign the petition for a BID and we cast a ballot for the Prop 218 balloting. However, we do not sit on the boards and vote.
Maybe you remember our semi-recent post about the July 28 meeting of the Joint Security Committee, in which some genius of a Sheriff’s deputy poured forth a never-ending stream of genius-level similes, including a comparison of sidewalk vendors at MacArthur Park with “too many animals in one cage.” Well, with all the furor over Hollywood nightclub totalitarianism, we’ve been too busy to get back to that video until this morning. Take a look here as our friends on the committee and some random cop discuss the Rusty Mullet. As always, a complete transcription may be found at the end of this post, but here is essentially what was discussed in this metaphorically smoke-filled back room.
You can read a transcript of the ongoings after the break, as always, but today we’re focusing just on a little bit of unplanned, unscripted joking around, for in such situations, according to Sigmund Freud (as our friends at Wikipedia put it), we can discern “…forbidden thoughts and feelings that the conscious mind usually suppresse[s] in deference to society.”
The fun began when Kerry Morrison, her inimitably sycophantic affect in full flower, told Cpt. Cory that she had a surprise for him! (This bit starts here).
KM: I have one fun thing to show you. When you were here, I remember you said “Ooooh! I really want one of those star placques!” So I made this up for you for 2013–2014 and then I kept texting, like I want to go down and tour 77th Division.
And Cowboy Cory Palka has a little joke about this: CP: You don’t want to go to 77th…
Now, it’s hard to see what’s funny about that, right? We mean, really, what’s funny? But the HPOA thinks it’s fookin’ hilarious. Just watch.
So really, what’s so funny? There’s no clue in Cpt. Cory’s follow-up remarks, either, although we do get the sense that he almost talked about, just barely refrained from mentioning, the dreaded “those people”:
Totally different environment. My first year in 77th Street I had fifty murders and then last year I had thirty three. And I remember, I was telling my daughter we were doing some great things down there, and she was like “Great things? Man, pretty dangerous down there.” And I had ten when I left this year, so, Pete still has ten, I haven’t had any, I’ve been here, this is my second week, so, it’s just a different community and with a whole different set of challenges. Um, that’s a whole different discussion, so…
While poking around BID Patrol arrest reports recently obtained from the HPOA by our faithful correspondent, we noticed a weird, repetitive quirk in the ones relating to LAMC 41.47.2, which forbids public urination. The arresting security guards uniformly either ask their victim if he or she knew of the existence of public restrooms close by or else they note in their report that there were public restrooms close by. Now, whenever one finds this kind of textual consistency in police reports it’s possible to be sure of two things. First, there’s some element of the crime that they’re trying to make sure is definitely established. Second, that they’re probably lying. In this case, it was hard to see what element might be related to the proximity of public restrooms. The law doesn’t mention them, and is not subtle in the least:
No person shall urinate or defecate in or upon any public street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, beach, park, public building or other publicly maintained facility or place, or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view, except when using a urinal, toilet or commode located in a restroom, or when using a portable or temporary toilet or other facility designed for the sanitary disposal of human waste and which is enclosed from public view.
But a little googling revealed the explanation, among other interesting things. First, public urination wasn’t against the law in the city of Los Angeles until 2003. We’re guessing that there was no pressing need to make it so because vagrancy laws could be used against public urinators as desired until they were definitively destroyed in 1983.1 So maybe outlawing public urination wasn’t as urgent as, e.g., squashing drinking beer in the park (which was outlawed in LA only in 1983) and also, the LA Times suggested that previously public urinators were charged with littering, but that the City Attorney decided that that was bogus. In any case, the Council file on the matter shows, surprisingly, that it took more than four years to get the prohibition passed into law. There doesn’t seem to have been any public discussion of the matter before it passed, either, although it may be just that the online materials from that long ago are fragmentary.
Second, the LA Times article quoted the objections of members of the Los Angeles Community Action Network and other homeless advocates to a law which criminalized essential bodily functions of the homeless, and in response, after the law was passed, according to the Times, “Council members pledged that people would be prosecuted only in cases when there is a public toilet nearby that they failed to use.” So this is why, no doubt, the BID Patrol feels that it has to note the locations of nearby “public” restrooms in its arrest reports. Their weirdo interpretation of the meaning of “public” also shows why it’s necessary to put things like the “public restrooms available” pledge in the law itself. Actually, once the law is passed, it doesn’t matter what Councilmembers say they meant it to mean, it only matters what it says. This is how the rule of law works in a free society. Also, isn’t it very suspicious but unfortunately not surprising that they put the fuzzy-wuzzy warmsy-hugsy interpretation of the law in the paper but not in the statute books?
And that’s not the worst thing about this nonsense. Even if the City Council intended the law to be enforced this way, even if the freaking Mayor ordered the LAPD only to enforce the law this way, none of that would reign in the BID Patrol. They are essentially beyond the control of public policy and beholden only to the written letter of the law.2 As we’ve discussed before, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, if a citizen’s arrest is made, the LAPD must accept custody of the arrestee even if the arrest was made contrary to public policy.