The “Messiah” We Don’t Need

Homeless encampments on Harbor Blvd. Photo by Brenda López

Councilman Buscaino announces run for mayor to create “A Safer” Los Angeles

By Chris Venn, Founder of the San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice / Random Lengths News

On June 7 Councilman Joe Buscaino, candidate for mayor, spoke on the Boardwalk in Venice about houselessness in Los Angeles. Attending the rally were Venice residents who object to the un-housed community’s presence on the Venice Boardwalk as well as local activists and their city-wide allies who are demanding services not sweeps for un-housed residents.

The press conference was held at 7 a.m. on the border of Santa Monica to attract the morning news cycle and highlight the proliferation of tents in Venice and lack of tents on the beach in Santa Monica. “This was all about Joe using our homeless situation as a backdrop. He wanted a scene to prove how out of control the homeless situation is to justify his strong arm tactics,” said Peggy Lee Kennedy of Venice Justice  Committee.

In the press conference, Buscaino stated that Council District 11 Councilmember Mike Bonin’s housing policies were a failure, that the city should end the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (a joint body of the county and the city) and that as mayor he would provide housing for the un-housed and then enact a city-wide camping ban.

Local housing activists from Buscaino’s Council District 15 in attendance sought opportunities with the press and audience members to compare the Harbor District’s policies of using aggressive tactics toward encampments including weekly sweeps by garbage trucks with skip loaders and hydraulic grappling claws with Bonin’s policies in Venice.

General Dogon, Los Angeles Community Action Network (Skid Row), said, “This was a klan rally. It was a hater rally;  a homeless hater rally. Running for mayor, he [Buscaino]  decided to announce his mayoral campaign in another council district and use his [Mike Bonin] homeless situation to promote himself as a candidate for mayor. He threw Councilmember Mike Bonin under the bus.”

During the press conference an un-housed woman had a mental crisis and was tackled by the police and a knife was confiscated. Buscaino was escorted from the rally by two security guards from Black Knight Patrol, a San Pedro- based security company.  This woman, who was detained by the police, was released without any charges … after Buscaino’s extensive rhetoric about being a criminal. It appears Buscaino violated her rights using her as a visual op for the press. 

Michelle Rushstone of Streetwatch Los Angeles stated her version of the meeting. “He isn’t serious about the homeless epidemic, the care and well being of the un-housed. He is only about exploiting the process for his own gain, for real estate moguls who want to profit off expensive beach state property. A man who attended the rally owns five properties that are vacant. These five properties could house the entire population. Greed and capitalism are the property of this mayoral candidate. 

Carla Orendorf of Streetwatch Los Angeles on Buscaino’s Mayoral Campaign Kickoff

Joe Buscaino is responsible for human rights violations in his own district and destroying what little resources people have by coming in to do sweeps. He comes to Venice as Los Angeles Community Action Network puts it, “to serve as the messiah for the segregationists.”

The City of Los Angeles has always used punitive policies to mistreat and abuse unhoused people. Every member of that rally in support of Joey “Buckets of Feces” Buscaino was identified as a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council with deep real estate ties. These people want to clear encampments so their property values go up but block housing from being built in their communities. They do not represent the people of Los Angeles — the working poor, migrants, LGBTQ youth and the unhoused. That is who Los Angeles is and we must fight to support people who are being told they have no right to exist. This is nothing new, and we must recognize our responsibility and our fight to stand up for one another. We must continue to fight for permanent supportive housing and for the right to be treated with dignity.

Buscaino represents the LAPD approach to homelessness which is to sweep the problem under the rug with threats of arrest. It only emboldens NIMBYs across this city to take violent action against people who live outside. His plan to make Los Angeles safer is based on taking people’s tents away and criminalizing those who refuse shelter.

This is what Los Angeles has been doing for the last 40 years and that approach only perpetuates homelessness. You cannot police your way out of homelessness. It does not work.

Police do not make our communities safer. Politicians who pander to real estate interests have no interest in our communities that are struggling to survive. Beware when they say they are coming in to help but still carry guns. We believe people know what kind of help they need. Let’s make those resources and support available so people have the opportunity to live healthy and fulfilling lives. 

Being homeless is not a crime. Hoarding wealth and vacant properties that can house people immediately is the crime. People have the right to home.




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