Clearing the streets

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first_imgBut among the six homeless Angelenos who successfully challenged the city policy, none committed any crime other than being homeless. Why, then, would city officials waste their time busting transients? Because downtown is in the midst of a heavily subsidized boom, the realization of a vision that city leaders have long held dear. The last thing developers want is to have unseemly vagrants mucking up the scenery. Politicians offer pious talk about spending millions to care for the homeless – by shipping them to other communities – while at the same time sending out the cops to harass them out of downtown. The policies share the same objective, which isn’t caring for the needy, but putting a pretty face on the new downtown, where lofts sell for $1 million or more. Too bad that pretty face conceals an ugly heart. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! IT’S ironic, even a little sick, how Los Angeles leaders prattle on about the need to take care of the homeless – while at the same time having the denizens of Skid Row cited and arrested in order to chase them out of downtown. A federal court has found a city law that prohibits sitting or sleeping on sidewalks to be unconstitutional unless there’s shelter available. In other words, it’s not a crime to be homeless – a decision in line with 40 years of cases striking down vagrancy laws. But the ruling has sparked howls of protests from city leaders. City Councilwoman Jan Perry wants to waste more public money fighting the case to the Supreme Court. And City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo intends to do just that, while insisting Chief William Bratton continue his campaign of homeless cleansing. To hear them tell it, the city policy isn’t about chasing homeless folks to suburban enclaves; it’s about protecting them from criminal predators who take advantage of drunks, addicts and mental cases. “We want to be humane,” says Delgadillo, “but we will not allow a return of the gangs and drug peddlers who prey on the homeless.” last_img

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