Entering its ninth year, Echo Park Rising continues its reign as a free event that engulfs Los Angeles with music and the arts throughout the weekend from Sunset Blvd, Alvarado Avenue, and beyond, starting today. And in the midst of the festivities to make room for such a communal event, the question of displacement revisits the community. At what cost will we sanitize and clear the streets to make way for the festival, better yet, at whose expense?
Taken from a thread in the Echo Park Rising post on Facebook, members of Street Watch LA came to voice concern and put pressure on organizers to “stop forced displacement” where last year members of Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles witnessed the forced “sweep” of Los Angeles’ homeless.
“Last year before Echo Park Rising members of Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles watched as LAPD and sanitation displaced unhoused residents of our community to mask the damage of gentrification and skyrocketing rents and sanitize the streets for the music fans who’d be here instead. In 90 degree heat, we watched as a 70 year old man was denied his jug of water because ‘his time was up’ collecting his belongings. Residents were given just 10 min to put their lives in a 60 gallon garbage bag,” comments Housing and Homelessness Committee Chair of DSA-LA, Arielle Salli.
It has been a rising concern in the city of Los Angeles where as of June 2019, officials disclosed an increase of 12 percent in the county and 16 percent in the city, which results as “L.A. County’s homeless population at 58,936 and the city’s at 36,300” according to the New York Times. Living wages and skyrocketing housing costs factor directly to homelessness, as a Los Angeles resident would “need to earn $47.52 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent,” according to L.A.H.S.A. figures.
Activists also reached out to Echo Park Rising on Facebook to continue to voice concern where activists and those in the community responded as “dodging responsibility” and making “excuses.”
Similar stories by DSA-LA read: “Earlier, our friend Thomas was told by City officials that the sweep was cancelled, but it commenced in the afternoon anyway. Thomas moved all his belongings across the street where there were no notices for a cleanup. Sanitation waited for him to leave before going across the street and destroying all of his belongings in the garbage truck. Others lost brand new tents and bags of their clothes that they also moved to the unnoticed side of the street, after police surrounded them like a gang and told them to leave the area. When a Street Watch / DSA-LA member approached the LA Sanitation point person that day to ask why this was happening, he ignored him. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell‘s staff member Juan Fregoso watched on.”
To continue to spread the message of a more “humane” approach to street-cleaning, the DSA-LA encourages those concerned about sweeps to sign a petition: https://www.dsa-la.org/epr
As a community creating an event for all, those same empathetic values should be used in all decisions, including the unhoused individuals of Los Angeles.
In addition, the DSA-LA will also be taking shifts throughout the weekend to raise awareness around the subject revolving around the unhoused and the community may join. To join Friday’s awareness day, please fill out the form here and to join Saturday’s awareness day, please visit here.
To demand services not sweeps please visit: DSA-LA EPR
Edit: 8/15 2:35 p.m. to correctly address comment by Arielle Salli.