I have been spending a lot of time looking into how the City of Los Angeles organizes sweeps of homeless encampments on the most micro-level possible. The picture painted by the evidence is of an essentially complaint-driven process, with sweeps being called in mainly by Council offices, for the most part in response to constituent complaints or even to facilitate the illegal installation of hostile architecture. It’s possible, even likely, that there are other mechanisms, but I don’t yet have a clear idea of what they are.
Ideas aren’t guiding City policy, but personalities are, raw animal desire, hatred, anger, so it’s not likely that ideas, morality talk, and so on, could change the policy. It’s extremely important therefore to understand the processes at this personal level not least to learn what is motivating City policy, what kinds of pressures City officials feel that guide their choices, and so on. Whose anger counts.
And it’s surprising whose anger does count. Like see the crazed emails from Hollywood landlord and Kanye West operative Anthony Kilhoffer and the City’s reaction to them or these genocidal freaks who want to starve homeless human beings away from their properties. And yet City officials, police included, are deferential throughout their interactions. Without understanding how this happens, why it happens, it will be harder than it already is to change the way the City deals with the homeless, and it’s already impossibly hard.
The best tool I know for understanding City politics is, of course, the California Public Records Act.1 So I spend a lot of time collecting and reading rage-filled hateful screeds, written by self-righteous privileged housedwellers. And to collect these, well, the CPRA requires that a request “reasonably [describe] an identifiable record or records”.2 Which makes it a little tricky in that probably “all rage-filled hate screeds emailed by psychopathic housedwellers” is not a reasonable description of an identifiable record. It’s too subjective, not least because one person’s psychopathic housedweller is another person’s most honored campaign donor.
So to obtain emails, then, it’s best to provide search terms. These can be domain names, email addresses, words, phrases, anything. The presence or absence of a term in an email is objective, and therefore provides a reasonable description of an identifiable record. There’s still the problem, and it’s not trivial, of coming up with appropriate search terms for this particular genre of public records.
But recently I have come pretty close to what seems to be an ideal solution. At least the phrase I’ve been using turns up a lot of interesting stuff. My current best search term is “quality of life.” Indeed, this was probably3 made up by a bunch of broken windows theorists as a way to explain why their theories lead them to think it’s actually OK, actually desirable, to lock people up for an entire freaking year for pissing in an alley when sane people actually don’t know why pissing in alleys is even illegal.4
And this abhorrent circumlocution evidently serves its conscience-soothing function well, based on its popularity among that segment of psychopathic homeless-hating housedwellers who so desperately need their consciences soothed, or would if they had any. It’s freaking everywhere in precisely the emails I’m looking for. And just the other day I got a big stack of these quality of life emails from Mitch O’Farrell’s staff at CD13.5 And you can read all of them here on Archive.Org.6
And there is some good stuff in here, both interesting and important.7 I will be writing about it from time to time, and today I’m looking at this March 30, 2018 email from LAPD officer Shannon Geaney to a panoply of what passes for community leaders in Hollywood asking for their help in coordinating a distribution “one-thousand, high density, clear, zip-closure bags that will be printed “ESSENTIAL PERSONAL PROPERTY” with a box to write the owner’s name.” There’s a transcription of this entire essential email below.
The point, as you may well have guessed immediately, is that Geany has “heard the frequent complaint that important paperwork, documents, identification cards, birth certificates, citations, or medications are frequently lost during clean-ups or incident to arrest.” Note, by the way, the absolutely stunning level of deflection here as Geaney refuses to acknowledge that the property isn’t “lost” but is rather illegally confiscated by police or other City officials and illegally destroyed or thrown away.
And it gets worse. Why is Geaney concerned about police and sanitation workers confiscating and destroying people’s medicine and paperwork? Well, she says she “understand[s] how this can cause significant delay in a client’s case management and enrollment in appropriate programs.”8 Maybe it’s too much even in these latter days to expect a police to be concerned about violations of people’s constitutional rights because they’re violations of constitutional rights rather than for such absolutely demeaning reasons.9
And why is Geaney writing to these Hollywood thought leaders, providers of services, and, for some reason, the Hollywood Entertainment District BID? Well, because “It is [her] hope that each of you will want to distribute these bags to your clients and educate them on the importance of their role in safe guarding their property.” In short, because it helps her make the point that even though the LAPD and City Sanitation workers are the ones throwing away the property in question, and even though they’re doing it illegally, nevertheless the fact that it gets thrown away is the fault of the property owners. Because they don’t live in houses. Got it?
Good, because now finally we’re going to discuss the reason why this email is really important.10 It reveals an anti-homeless unit of the LAPD that I don’t know anything about yet. It’s called the Coordinated Outreach Resource Enforcement Unit, which because the City’s cute-names-for-tools-of-oppression policy seems to require it, is known as CORE. Tangentially, please read the whole email, transcribed below. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, very revealing of cop attitudes towards human beings forced to live on sidewalks, and I do not have time11 to discuss it all.
And despite the fact that its name suggests these folks are engaged in outreach to the homeless, it turns out that, according to Geaney, what they’re really doing is “identifying wanted suspects of active investigations living within the homeless population of Hollywood.” And obviously the sweeps during which people’s property is disposed of are serving as a cover for these investigations.
And Geaney is quite explicit about who the LAPD is working for in this regard. “We also are accountable to the residents and businesses of the community to be responsive to their concerns regarding ‘quality of life’ issues. We coordinate closely with the LAPD HOPE Teams, Bureau of Sanitation Rapid Response Teams and the Clean Teams working at the direction of the City Councilman’s’ Offices.”
And the fact that sweeps serve as a pretext for investigations that would certainly otherwise be understood by the LAPD to be unlawful, where “otherwise” means “if not targeting homeless people,” plays a significant role in feeding the thoroughly justified distrust that homeless people feel towards these City officials, these police, that claim to be there to help but so often are there to target, to harass, to arrest. Not according to Geaney, though, whose explanation I’ll close with and who has (and needs) an inexhaustible supply of conscience-soothing lies: “Please trust me when I say, we, that the police, are not the solution this humanitarian crisis: but we are a part of the team and wholly committed to improving the overall health of Hollywood as a community.”
Transcription of Geaney’s entire email on CORE:
From: Shannon E Geaney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 12:01 PM
To: Daniel Halden <email@example.com>, Shannon Prior <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Kris Nameth (email@example.com)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Lauren Gonzalez <email@example.com>, Jose Mendez <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Amy Perkins <email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org”<email@example.com>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “Svondeffner@dhs.lacounty.gov” <Svondeffner@dhs.lacounty.gov>, Emily Kantrim <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: “steve.houchin (email@example.com)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Brian Folb <email@example.com>, Cory S Palka <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For any whom I have not met, I am the supervisor of LAPD Hollywood Division’s Coordinated Outreach Resource Enforcement Unit (CORE). I have eight officers dedicated to identifying wanted suspects of active investigations living within the homeless population of Hollywood. Hand in hand with that mission, is our aim to identify the vulnerable members of the homeless community and connect them with available services. We also are accountable to the residents and businesses of the community to be responsive to their concerns regarding “quality of life” issues. We coordinate closely with the LAPD HOPE Teams, Bureau of Sanitation Rapid Response Teams and the Clean Teams working at the direction of the City Councilman’s’ Offices. It is to this end that I have a specific request of each of you.
I have heard the frequent complaint that important paperwork, documents, identification cards, birth certificates, citations, or medications are frequently lost during clean-ups or incident to arrest. I understand how this can cause significant delay in a client’s case management and enrollment in appropriate programs. In an attempt to preempt this from happening, I have secured a generous donation from the Hollywood Police Support Association to purchase one-thousand, high density, clear, zip-closure bags that will be printed “ESSENTIAL PERSONAL PROPERTY” with a box to write the owner’s name. It is my hope that each of you will want to distribute these bags to your clients and educate them on the importance of their role in safe guarding their property.
I believe amongst this group are some talented individuals who can best construct a concise brochure or pamphlet to include in the EPP Bags. I would like each of you to consider what printed information you would like to include in these bags regarding your available programs and services. I would like to host a meeting with a representative from each of your organizations to quickly tackle this simple but important task. I have visited most of your facilities and given you a copy of the information we currently have to distribute. I have scanned and attached a copy for your review.
Please forward this email to any stakeholder you feel would be a valuable contributor to this process. I would propose that most of us are present or could be present at the bi-weekly Hollywood Outreach Collaborative Meeting. With the BID’s permission we could extend the next meeting and address this.
Please trust me when I say, we, that the police, are not the solution this humanitarian crisis: but we are a part of the team and wholly committed to improving the overall health of Hollywood as a community. I will always listen to your concerns and attempt to work with you to define how our respective roles can compliment each other in this effort.
Sergeant Shannon Geaney
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this electronic mail message, including any attached documentation, is intended for the addressee only and is strictly confidential. Any unauthorized dissemination, distribution, copying or use of the information contained herein is prohibited and may result in criminal and civil penalties. If you have received this transmission in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete the entire electronic mail message.
Image of Shannon “not the solution to the problem” Geaney is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is kinda sorta hella looky here!
- I have a hammer, friends, and it surely makes everything look like a damn nail. Or at least like something that can be improved on by hitting it with a damn hammer. Repeatedly.
- At §6253(b).
- You want to read stuff by an author who has time to track down all this background crapola probably you need to find someone who’s getting paid. And yet, here we both are! In one another’s most excellent company!
- It’s illegal precisely because if it weren’t then broken windows theorists wouldn’t be able to lock people up for doing it. And so, pace Kurt Vonnegut, it goes.
- Which is ground zero of a particular species of rageball housedweller, although I certainly don’t have time to analyze the damn taxonomy. Not in this post.
- They seem to be trickling in, would be surprised if more didn’t show up later. Check me on Twitter for updates if and when they occur.
- There is also some trivial but crazy stuff that’s important for understanding the delusional world these NIMBYs inhabit, like this unconscious primitive imagist antihomeless fever dream of an email, like William Carlos Williams on white privilege or something. I just find it endlessly fascinating. But ultimately not important, I don’t think.Here’s a transcription, line breaks and capitalization as in the original, I freaking kid you not:
From: Faye Pagidas
Date: March 19, 2018 at 7:20:15 AM PDT
To: Mary Cuizon Office Hollywood El Centro Manager <email@example.com>
Subject: Homeless Encampment Accross Leland Way 6206
The homeless situation has gotten
Out of hand Again !!!!!!
On behalf of the residents who
Live on the above mentioned
Address we we demand the
Immediate removal of homeless
From this location , they are a
Threat on our safety and well-being.
As you know the sidewalk Accross our entrance is very narrow , cars
Parked there gave difficulty opening
Their doors touching almost the
Tents there .
Every single day for the past 3 weeks
Except of trashing and make Very
Difficult walking on the sidewalk
There s constant disruption of
Peaceful living !!!!!!
From early evening to early morning
There s constant yelling Screaming
Cursing , Fighting among them
Residents live every day and night
They cannot open their windows
For some fresh air!!!! They hear
Them under their windows going
To the bathroom right there !!!!!
It s a tragic situation !!!!!
It s seems that the City , the Police
Aren’t aware of that!!!!!!!!
Otherwise the above situation
We ve noticed AT T has done a great
Job with this problem , there isn t
A single homeless three as before
Or on Hollywood El Centro Accross
Rite Aid s sidewalk , or outside or near
The New Construction on Leland
Two big trees were cut there on that
Sidewalk and the sidewalk there
Was closed with a very long Fence !!!
This high risk situation Should
Be addressed Yesterday !!!!!! By
Taking the necessary measures
To really enhance the quality
Of life and Safety of Hollywood
El Centro Residents!!!!!
Sent from my iPhone
- Was going to say I don’t get why is it hard for housedwellers to empathize with these homeless victims of state aggression in the form of the illegal confiscation of their property. Why can’t the housedwellers imagine some cops coming into their house and throwing away all their stuff and then acting like the only problem with it is that it makes it harder for the housedweller to get an appointment with a therapist who can help them come to terms with their problems, many of which were caused by the fact that all their stuff was just confiscated and destroyed. But sadly I do get it. Aggressors, law breakers, people who accept money to harm their fellow human beings, often have qualms, doubts, suppressed regrets. Not getting what’s happening is a way to deal with this pain. Not being evil might be more effective, but it’s not so easy to get started on a whole new path. Hence they don’t get it.
- The reasons aren’t demeaning because they’re wrong or trivial. They’re not. The problem is that, as I was saying in the previous footnote, these are not reasons that anyone would be concerned about if these were housedwellers having their property destroyed by police. Until the City of Los Angeles attains equality of reasons for how they treat people there is no chance of them attaining equality of treatment of people. Same reasons equals same treatment. Different reasons is already abhorrent inequality.
- Pure hyperbole. Obviously it’s also really important because of the baggies and associated issues with them.
- Not to mention stomach.