The City of Los Angeles famously uses civil nuisance abatement lawsuits against property owners and residents in areas of the City being prepped for gentrification. These suits are yet another of the million superficially more acceptable forms into which old-fashioned urban renewal was reincarnated after it became clear to the world that James Baldwin was spot-on in his characterization of it as Negro removal.
For the most part news coverage of the hundreds of such suits filed by Mike Feuer’s office when there’s coverage at all has been uncritically accepting of the City’s unsupported-by-evidence story that these actions fight crime and increase safety.1 But the revelation after the murder of Nipsey Hussle that the City Attorney had been working towards filing such an action against Hussle’s property at Crenshaw and Slauson seems to have opened the door for much more critical coverage.2
Complaints that actually get filed, it turns out, are just a small part of the nuisance abatement program. The City Attorney sends out hundreds of demand letters to targeted property owners, most of which lead to settlements, evictions, and other such results sought by the City without ever having to file anything in court. I’ve been investigating this process via the California Public Records Act. The City Attorney denied my request for copies of the demand letters3 but they are in the process of producing copies of all the actually filed complaints.4
And just recently they turned over a couple of other interesting items. The first is a 2009 how-to why-to article by Los Angeles nuisance abatement pioneers Jonathan Cristall5 and Liora Forman-Echols called Property Abatements — The Other Gang Injunction. The other is a PDF version of an undated PowerPoint presentation about the nuisance abatement program. the PowerPoint thing doesn’t have much intentional content6 but the endless parade of photographs put the barely tacit racism of the whole project on vivid pictorial display. Some choice slides appear at the end of this post.
Continue reading A Couple Of Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Details Of How And Why The LA City Attorney Uses Nuisance Abatement Suits As Part Of The Same Gentrification Process As Gang Injunctions — Low Evidentiary Bar In Civil Cases — No Juries — No Public Defenders — Comparably Low Burden Of Proof — And The City’s Revealing — And Appalling — Choice Of Illustrations — And Of Targets — And Of Rhetorical Strategies — Reveal The Delusional And Ultraracist Conceptual Underpinnings Of The Project — Basically Superpredators 2.0