"Police State" on Skid Row or Are Things Getting Better?
The ACLU of Southern California has charged the LAPD with creating a “police state” in downtown’s Skid Row and seek to extend a 3-year-old injunction that declared arbitrary searches on Skid Row illegal. The ACLU argues that the 4th amendment protection from arbitrary searches has been violated by LAPD officers who have been searching through the pockets, possessions and encampments of the homeless since Skid Row sweeps began last September.
The LA Times reports:
“Police are also detaining homeless people for minor infractions such as jaywalking or sitting on the sidewalk, then using those pretexts as a basis to search them. Shawn Robertson was packing up his belongings one morning last November when police stood him against a wall and handcuffed him. They searched his stuff, ran his name, then let him go.”
Yet, few can argue that since the hotly-contested sweeps began, the streets of Skid Row are eerily quiet. The problem, it seems, has lessened. But have these people truly vanished, or have they simply gone elsewhere and will return once again after the police sweeps stop? The Downtown Los Angeles Homeless Map shows a continual movement of homeless throughout downtown and, more to the point, a significant drop in the number of homeless counted by the LAPD. The count reached 1,391 in November and is now down to 700 as of March 15th.