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It has to go down as one of the greatest stunts in political history.
The sheriff of Los Angeles County arrived with his deputies to take back the Venice boardwalk from our homeless “neighbors” who have literally occupied it.
The thing is, the Venice boardwalk is in the city of Los Angeles, the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department.
And the LAPD, not to men-
tion the local councilman, has a zero-interference poli- cy with our “neighbors.”
Our beaches and parks are overflowing with tents. The streets are clogged with recreational vehicles that never move. People openly steal bikes, do meth, sexually harass girls and women, and start fires that, in one recent case, burned down the home of a doctor who had the audacity to complain.
She wasn’t home. Her dog was.
I’m a rather fanatical dog lover. That was it for me.
I used to be on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union. If I were on the Facebook supreme court, I would let former President Donald Trump talk. Political speech should be free, unless it poses a clear and present danger of imminent harm. Like falsely crying fire in a crowded theater.
But there is no First Amendment right to take over public property, pitch your tents, and occupy our beaches and parks, immune from law enforcement.
There is no First Amendment right to do drugs on public property, block sidewalks and make it impossible to clean streets.
I am not anti-homeless. The most common victims of crimes by homeless people are other homeless people. They prey on each other. Leaving them on the streets does them no favors.
There are people on the streets who have been abandoned by their families because of all kinds of issues, and then they get preyed upon again on the beach. There are almost certainly people who used to rent or own in the area and now find themselves on the streets. But this is also a “homeless destination”; people come here to be home- less on the beach. “South Park” did it as an episode: The boys solved the city’s homeless problem by chartering a bus. Destination: Santa Monica.
Which makes the expected appointment of Eric Garcetti, the well-meaning and also much-mocked mayor of LA, to be ambassador to India seem so utterly absurd.
My favorite: He’s perfect forthejob;hegetstositina nice office and watch people dying on the sidewalk while he does nothing about it. Just like LA.
The LAPD has now announced that the Venice boardwalk will be cleared by August. Maybe they could also clear the nearby streets, Main Street and Abbot Kinney, and give a hand to the merchants whose stores and restaurants no one wants to get into by stepping over a person.
My favorite judge, Judge David Carter of the Central District of California, has called in city officials and visited encampments under the freeways and demanded answers. I appeared in a case before Carter for two years, and it was brilliantly brutal.
The sheriff’s claim to jurisdiction of the Venice boardwalk was, to be generous, a stretch.
Carter may be stretching a bit himself in demanding that the people who are sup- posed to be addressing homelessness in the city answer for their failure in his courtroom — in my experience, likely on a Saturday or at 11 p.m.
But things need to be shaken up.
The sheriff’s stunt actually worked. The LAPD couldn’t very well sit and watch them or, worse, stop them.
Carter is the sort to demand answers from the people at the top. Mattel’s CEO came to hearings every Saturday during MGA Entertainment v. Mattel. And sometimes, the only way to get action from a bureaucracy is to demand answers by Saturday at midnight.
The sheriff and the judge. Looking for solutions outside the box.