CommunityPam's House Blend

Dumping of L.A. homeless suspected

This sounds like our country’s plan for dealing with the ills of society — dump it in a corner and hide it away, you know, corral it all on skid rows and in ghettos and let “losers” fend for themselves along with the criminal element. That’s how it’s being done in L.A. (and likely, many other cities). (LA Times):

For decades, it’s been an enduring urban tale about downtown Los Angeles, often talked about but never proved: Police departments wanting to get rid of society’s lost and neglected — the homeless, mentally ill and criminals — simply drove through downtown and dumped them in skid row. But on Tuesday, evidence landed in the lap of the person who most needed it: Capt. Andrew Smith, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division.

Smith said he was out on patrol with his partner about 10 a.m. Tuesday when he noticed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s car driving down 6th Street. The cruiser, he said, turned south on San Pedro, then west on 7th Street to San Julian Street. There, Smith watched in disbelief as two deputies “pulled over, took a guy in handcuffs out of the car. They took off the cuffs and handed him a bag,” Smith said.

The captain and his partner immediately got out of their car and questioned the man and the deputies. Smith said the deputies told him that the man had been released from the Men’s Central Jail and was standing outside on the street when a supervisor ordered them to take the man to a downtown mission.

But there was no mission nearby,” Smith said. “Only a line of guys sitting on milk crates.”

…To the captain, the incident reaffirmed what he believes has been going on downtown for years. Other police agencies, Smith said, and even some hospitals, “are dumping homeless, drunks, narcotic addicts and the criminal population into the downtown area…. We’re fed up with it,” he said.

And yes, it seems like police departments from more tony locales are doing it…it’s easy just to dump the small-time dealers, junkies and other criminal elements into the urban areas, where they can terrorize citizens there. And lo and behold, then it’s also easy to later point fingers at these neighborhoods and demonize the whole population of black and brown people as criminals as the more gated-away well-to-do blame the victims for their own ills of living in a ghetto.

Sheriff’s officials deny that the deputies were trying to keep Harris downtown or prevent him from going back to Long Beach.

But LAPD officials and downtown community leaders aren’t so sure. They have long been concerned about the possibility of dumping by other agencies — so much so that for several months, officers patrolling downtown have been under orders to stop and question any out-of-town police car they see cruising the area.

Smith said they enacted the policy after his officers reported seeing police cars from far-flung communities in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley and South Bay letting people off in downtown.

No one is saying that these problems aren’t complicated (and expensive) to solve, but this is clearly not the answer. It was thrust upon us during the aftermath of Katrina in NOLA, when it was clear what happens when you concentrate the criminal element with those that cannot afford to wall themselves — or drive themselves — away from it.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding