Bass Speaks on Public Safety, Housing and Policing at Virtual Community Forum – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel
Mayoral candidate, Karen Bass speaks with community leaders and activists about her proposal to address homelessness, gentrification and municipal services
Mayoral candidate, Karen Bass met with more than 50 African-American citizens of Los Angeles to lay out her agenda regarding several burning issues affecting the black community.
Reverend Kelvin Sauls hosted the virtual forum which he called a “brave conversation to align community concerns with the campaign platform”. During the 90-minute session, Bass listened, responded and committed to more meetings to find out what’s on people’s minds, as well as to share her intentions if she is elected mayor in June 2022.
“We also wanted to facilitate mutual learning between the candidate and the community to explore common ground and higher ground in police and community violence prevention and response strategies,” Sauls said.
“Our goal was to leverage our collective thinking to advance holistic health, wellness, and the safety of our communities,” he added. A longtime community organizer, Sauls was previously pastor of Holman United Methodist and co-organizer of Clergy for Black Lives.
As moderator, Sauls opened the conversation, asking Bass to expand on his public statements to address homelessness as a public health and safety crisis. Specifically, he asked the candidate to explain how her strategy would treat homeless people humanely, effectively and with dignity.
“I believe this is a crisis that is an emergency and should be treated as if it were an earthquake. I think the mayor and the federal government should declare a state of emergency. When you do that, you can turn on the tap for resources,” Bass replied.
“I believe people should get off the streets immediately and be housed right away. I think there are categories of people who need to be housed, whether it’s because of mental illness, drug addiction, former youth in care, veterans, people who are economically homeless – all of these reasons need to be addressed and have different strategies. We must first ask ourselves why people are not housed,” she insisted.
The candidate also urged tackling the structural causes of homelessness, including “deep income inequality.” As a result, housing in Los Angeles has become unaffordable for large segments of the city’s population.
In his view, Bass said, “We need to address the root causes and we need to provide temporary housing that maintains dignity. The shelters have disappeared. The only real solution is permanent housing, but I don’t want to wait [for it] because people are dying on the streets every day.
Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter – LA, inquired about Bass’s recently released public safety plan. Expressing the importance of housing funds being budgeted, Abdullah expressed disappointment that the document did not allocate money for “things that we know make communities safe”, such as mental health assistance and after-school programs.
“The public safety plan you released was the exact opposite of what we expected from someone like you who has been in the community for many years,” Abdullah said.
“It’s like you’re capitulating to the LAPPL (Los Angeles Police Protective League) and other police interests. [Your plan] it’s not the progressive Karen Bass. We need you to be moral and ethical [in] saying we’re going to fund the things that make communities safe.
Making similar comments, Pastor Cue Jn Marie of Skid Row Church Without Walls said: “We don’t want our money going to law enforcement anymore. In my 15 years in the dump, things don’t seem to have improved. The policies you propose seem to me to be a re-reading of the 1990s.
Bass responded that she anticipated many people would dislike her public safety plan, but strongly believed she had to deal with the increase in crime that has occurred over the past year.
“I fear rising crime will be used to undo the reforms we have spent decades fighting for. I believe there is a lot of money in this country and in this city and the only way to fix it is to focus on prevention and intervention,” she stressed and added that the plan actually has three parts. She said the second section will focus on prevention and intervention strategies and the last part will focus on policing.
Making the link between police, housing and public safety, Sheila Bates insisted: “Housing is public safety. We discuss it as if it were a separate issue.
“The police are not public safety. Poor homeless neighbors are often victims of police violence. The police take 50% of the city budget,” Bates said. “It takes valuable resources from the very problem of homelessness.”
In line with Bates’ view that housing is public safety, Bass said she worked to ensure that the funding for Proposition H was directed to housing young people in foster care. . Also, regarding housing, the candidate mentioned that traditionally black neighborhoods are facing gentrification, corporate takeovers, and what Bass described as “predators basically coming to steal housing from our neighbors.” Regarding this situation, she said her goal was to help people keep their homes.
“People lose them for many reasons, including predators, especially older people. They prey on them, ask them to do corrections, or offer them loans, and then they end up stealing their homes. Order number one is to help people stay in their homes and fix their homes without taking out bad loans,” Bass said.
She also noted that the next document she plans to publish will highlight services, including crime prevention strategies, projects to help children avoid gangs and funding to hire ex-gang members. to lead youth intervention programs.
“I am also committing to form a development department within the mayor’s office, where I will hire staff to look for money because there is tons of money in this city and this country, but there is no ‘there is no mechanism at the town hall to collect the money,’ said the candidate.
“I want to invest in community programs. The county is often considered to provide services, but nothing prevents the city from providing services. I will commit to fundraising to ensure community programs that provide services have the resources they need,” Bass added. In addition, she pledged to review the People’s Budget developed by BLM-LA.
Closing commentators reiterated previous remarks about reducing the focus on policing in black and brown neighborhoods, increasing housing options for the homeless, putting more effort into cleaning up neighborhoods, poverty alleviation, participatory budgeting and an emphasis on more youth programs.
At the end of the event, Bass thanked everyone for their participation and said she looked forward to more conversations in the future.
Saul said, “The vitality and viability of our democracy depends on these constructive engagements. When we listen and see each other, we can boldly expand our circle of concern and compassion to achieve a more just and equitable Los Angeles based on the safety, dignity and prosperity of all Angelenos! »