We’ve written before about the cataclysmic flood of white privilege rage rants unleashed by Fabio Conti’s cri de coeur for the BID Patrol to stop coddling the homeless and start, we don’t know, killing them or whatever it takes to get them out of Hollywood, and the present post concerns yet another boulder in that avalanche of angst. We’re going to comment on the unnamed white privilege rage ranter’s rant (you can see the fellow’s picture somewhere in the vicinity of this sentence) one line at a time. You can read his whole speech after the break and watch it here if you’re so inclined.
…our effort to clean up the neighborhood is kinda like salmon swimming upstream.
No. First of all, salmon swimming upstream are beautiful, delicious, and nutritious. You people in the BID are none of these things. Second, you’re not trying to “clean up the neighborhood,” you’re trying to ethnically cleanse the neighborhood. One is at least plausibly laudable. The other is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Also, your metaphor is deeply flawed. Salmon like swimming upstream. It’s what they’re born to do. It’s the crowning glory of their lives. They surely, if they could speak, wouldn’t be whining about it.
You know, we have the state and the city working against us by allowing people to sleep on the sidewalk, you know, all night long, because it’s the humane thing to do.
No. The state and the city are not allowing anyone to sleep on the sidewalk because it’s humane. The state doesn’t have the first thing to do with municipal laws and the city has been FORCED by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its landmark decision Jones v. City of Los Angeles, where it found that the city’s law against sitting on the sidewalk, LAMC 41.18(d), violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That is, it’s the Constitution of the United States that allows people to sleep on the sidewalk, Mr. Unnamed white privilege rage ranter. The city of Los Angeles fought this case every step of the way, and Charlie Beck and presumably other city officials can’t wait to start enforcing it again as soon as the terms of the settlement are met. By the way, your use of the word humane here is infelicitous; as Albert Einstein once said,1 sarcasm is the language of the Devil. Note that we’re skipping some of the technicalities of the Jones case here, but the simplified outline is true enough.
…the laws that are in place aren’t being enforced, and they’re creating new laws that make things even worse, and at the same time, you know, we’re, we’re paying our taxes, uh, and they’re using our money for that…
The laws that are in place that aren’t being enforced aren’t being enforced because FEDERAL COURTS said they can’t be enforced. Maybe you remember from civics class that the judicial branch gets to boss around the executive branch if they deem it necessary. This is especially true if it’s the federal judicial branch and a municipal executive branch. And you’re right that they’re creating new laws that make things worse, but it’s the homeless that they make things worse for. They just passed a law that reduces the time before people can steal homeless people’s property without due process. The mayor instructed the LAPD not to enforce this law, it’s true, but according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, quoted in the LA Times here, if BID Officers make a citizen’s arrest of someone for violating it then the LAPD will have to enforce the law irrespective of the mayor’s diktat. So Garcetti’s reasonably brave stand in his letter to the Council announcing his position has a terrible loophole in it which only benefits your thuggish minions on the BID Patrol. So really, that’s what they’re using your diabolical money for, friend.
You got, you got police officers who’re getting second guessed every time they stop and talk to somebody, they’re being questioned, you know, they’re questioned as to what their motives are, uh, when the point is they’re just trying to do their job.
OK, but first of all, we have to ask what is their job? According to the LAPD it’s “To protect and serve.” And sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. Where our UWPRR goes wrong is who he evidently assumes is supposed to be protected and served by the LAPD. Of course it is all residents of Los Angeles. Not just rich people. Not just white people. Not just people with houses or apartments or cars. Everybody.
And as far as we can see, the LAPD does a pretty reasonable job of it. But, you know, anyone who grew up in this city, anyone who pays attention to the history of the LAPD, knows that, and no offense, LAPD guys, you really are the sanest people in the room at those Security Committee meetings, the fact is, there are a lot of reasons why the LAPD needs to be questioned, needs to be second guessed. They have not always behaved well, and, in 2000, after about 150 years of fairly unchecked bad behavior, the federal government had to step in and investigate the hell out of everyone. It worked out for the best, and relations between the LAPD and the citizens of this city are better than they’ve ever been, but really, why would anyone stop questioning, observing, challenging, the LAPD now? It was questioning them and occasionally rising up in arms against them that made them into the modern, professional police force that they are today and which they’re justifiedly proud of being. An alert citizenry keeps the police honest, and the police are better for it. The professionals, and that’s most of the LAPD, know this. Why don’t you know it, Mr. UWPRR?
The BID is, they’re in the same boat.
The BID needs to be in the same boat, friend. Their security patrol officers carry guns. They arrest people and place them in handcuffs for bullshit crimes that the LAPD won’t even enforce. They act like real cops. They claim to have the blessing of the LAPD. They are funded by taxes and are controlled by the BID, a public agency, and yet there is absolutely no city oversight of their activities as there is for actual sworn officers. In fact, BID Patrol officers are anonymous. They don’t wear name tags and no one will reveal their identities. They need far more oversight than they’re getting. If they’re not up to something sinister what are they hiding?
…after thirty-some years of police work I saw how we used to be able to do things and now, how we have to do things. Uh, and it’s, and it’s sad because our governments are working against us rather than working for us…
No. The LAPD used to be able to do things 30 years ago that weren’t good for anyone. They weren’t good for the people beaten, killed, or convicted on the basis of perjured testimony. They weren’t good for the people of Los Angeles, who were policed by police who were in many cases worse criminals than the people they arrested. They weren’t good for the police officers themselves, many of whom tried to do good professional work in the face of widespread corruption and cover-ups not just by the LAPD command but by the District Attorney (we’re thinking of you, Gil Garcetti) and possibly higher. The guilty people set free because the LAPD had forfeited so much credibility that juries wouldn’t convict and appellate courts overturned verdicts weren’t good for society.
Things may have been better for you in the LAPD thirty years ago, Mr. UWPRR, but they weren’t better for the people of Los Angeles and they weren’t better for the many, many good, professional officers. No one sane wants to go back to those bad old days.
We have an encampment on our bus stop out in front of our school and I expect pretty soon they’re gonna put up a flag there and you know, uh, uh, uh, hang their name out front. It’s growing, it’s getting bigger and bigger, and uh, you know, BID guys talked to em yesterday, they did enforce as much as they could but gee, they have the right to be there.
They do have the right to be there, and you can be sure that it’s a clear, well-established, obvious right to be there, or “BID guys” would have hauled them off in chains. The benefit of the doubt never goes to the homeless on the streets of Hollywood. The very fact that they weren’t arrested shows that they really, really, really do have the right to be there.
And furthermore, the fact that they have the right to be there, even though Los Angeles is more punitive towards its homeless population than almost any city in the entire country, shows that people more powerful than you and certainly smarter than you can’t find a way to get rid of those people in front of your school without at the same time destroying rights and privileges that you yourself rely on. The government of this city in a practical sense exists to serve you and your zillionaire masters, and if you want those people gone from that bus stop but the city can’t get them gone, the only plausible reason is that, even though you’re evidently too dense to understand it, you’d suffer more from a situation where they could be disappeared than you do from their presence. Here’s some unsolicited advice: you’ll almost certainly be happier in your privileged position if you try to understand how you personally and economically benefit from the presence of those reviled people on the bus stop you think of as yours (although it’s not yours). You can be sure that you do benefit from it. You benefit from most of what the city does, even if you don’t or won’t understand that.
As bad as this outburst was intrinsically, as much of the molten, caustic id of the white power structure as it laid bare, even worse is the fact that, as a result of it, the Joint Security Committee and, by extension, the two BIDs themselves, stand revealed as safe spaces for this hateful nonsense. No one there told this guy that he’s completely crazy; they don’t think he is. No one there told him that it’s delusional to think the government is his enemy when the room was filled with government agents there to lick the boots of the BIDs, when Kerry Morrison can call councilmembers, assemblymembers, congressional representatives, state senators, mayors, prosecutors, whomever she wants, and have all the time she needs to explain the BID’s wants, needs, and desires. When the BID talks, the government listens. And yet this guy, and as indicated by their silent acceptance of his speech, the rest of the BID, think they’re persecuted, that they’re powerless, that the constitution of the United States enchains them instead of freeing them and all their fellow citizens. And that kind of paranoia, from the mythological stab-in-the-back in 1918 to Donald Trump’s raving about Mexican rapists in 2015, feeds the most dangerous tendencies of the rich white right. When these people, the persecutors of all the helpless of the world, start feeling persecuted themselves, no one’s safe from their fear.
Unnamed White Privilege Rage Ranter: You know, [unintelligible] big problem is, it’s…our effort to clean up the neighborhood is kinda like salmon swimming upstream. You know, we have the state and the city working against us by allowing people to sleep on the sidewalk, you know, all night long, because it’s the humane thing to do. Uhhh, the laws that are in place aren’t being enforced, and they’re creating new laws that make things even worse, and at the same time, you know, we’re, we’re paying our taxes, uh, and they’re using our money for that, uh, the police department’s hands are tied because they can’t do any…
Fabio Conti [interrupting]: Well, the mayor asked the police to not enforce the new, uh, regulation [unintelligible]…Monday…
UWPRR: Uh, yeah, well, but it isn’t just money [sic]. You got, you got police officers who’re getting second guessed every time they stop and talk to somebody, they’re being questioned, you know, they’re questioned as to what their motives are, uh, when the point is they’re just trying to do their job. The BID is, they’re in the same boat. And, uh, you know, I, after thirty-some years of police work I saw how we used to be able to do things and now, how we have to do things. Uh, and it’s, and it’s sad because our governments are working against us rather than working for us…
John Tronson [interrupting]: What law, [unintelligible], did Garcetti…
Fabio Conti: The, uh…the councilmember, the city council.. reduced the time…
Kerry Morrison [interrupting]: 72 hours to 24…
Fabio Conti: …to remove the belongings, you know, and he says he don’t wanna sign it and he don’t wanna veto [unintelligible] and he asked the police to not enforce that. That was when, Monday? Or Friday?
UWPRR: We have an encampment on our bus stop out in front of our school and I expect pretty soon they’re gonna put up a flag there and you know, uh, uh, uh, hang their name out front. It’s growing, it’s getting bigger and bigger, and uh, you know, BID guys talked to em yesterday, they did enforce as much as they could but gee, they have the right to be there.
- OK, actually it was Thomas Carlyle in Sartor Resartus, Book 2, Chapter 4.
Image of unnamed white privilege rage rant guy is ©2015 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of fish is by Jarle Vines, who has released it under the Gnu Free Documentation License, and we got it via Wikimedia. Image of Karl Brandt at Nuremberg is in the public domain due to its having been made by an agent of the federal government blah blah blah etc. and we got it via Wikimedia. Image of BID Patrollies in In-N-Out is ©2015 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of Watts riots arrest is public domain cause of the federal government thing and is available here from Wikimedia. Image of Rodney King beating is definitely copyrighted by someone, but it appears here under a “property of all humanity” fair use exemption. Image of Ray Perez is a public record, so we’re using it and that’s that, eh?