Demonstrators seek to block cabinet post for mayor

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — An eighth consecutive day of demonstrations outside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence was planned for Dec. 1 in an attempt to persuade President-elect Joe Biden not to appoint Garcetti to his cabinet.

There were 112 people at the Nov. 30 demonstration, according to Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.

The Rev. James Thomas began the demonstration with a prayer that Garcetti let love and empathy into his heart.

Demonstrators marched from Getty House to nearby Wilshire Boulevard, blocking the street at Crenshaw Boulevard, chanting “Four a day ain’t OK,” a reference to the number of homeless people they claim die in Los Angeles each day.

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and Ground Game LA have vowed to conduct a demonstration every day until Biden commits to not appointing Garcetti to the cabinet. They are critical of Garcetti’s handling of
homelessness, public transportation and other issues.

On Nov. 29, police stood by in riot gear as demonstrators chanted and spoke into bullhorns. No arrests were reported.

We are here for a sacred purpose,” Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles organizer Sheila Bates said while standing on the sidewalk in front of Getty House and wearing a mask to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. We are here with a mission and with a duty to bring forth Black liberation because we know that when Black people get free everybody gets free.

We are to stand and turn this ground into sacred ground. We are here to call forth our ancestors to move us in a way that honors them and honors the continuation of this beautiful struggle for liberation and for freedom.”

Tabatha Jones Jolivet, a Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles organizer, estimated that about 400 people participated in the protest.

Ground Game LA bills itself as conducting campaigns to elect progressives, protect the unhoused and defend the environment.

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles calls Garcetti “the worst mayor in the nation,” claiming he “has racked up a dismal record of handling Los Angeles’ housing catastrophe, providing for the city’s growing unhoused population and following through on transportation projects.”

Jones Jolivet said Garcetti “has failed the people of Los Angeles in an unending number of ways — from criminalizing folks for being houseless, to refusing to stand up for people who are killed by his police force.”

We refuse to be quiet as President-elect Biden considers him for a cabinet post where his reach will extend to setting national policy,” she said.

Garcetti said last month he has expanded the homelessness budget to more than 16 times what it was five years ago. He started the A Bridge Home shelter program intended to get unhoused Angelenos off the streets immediately while Measure HHH-funded projects are built.

In 2016, the city government created a local funding source to finance supportive housing in an attempt to reduce homelessness.

Garcetti said in June the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority helped house more than 23,000 Angelenos in 2019, more than twice as many as the county was doing in 2014, but said people are falling into homelessness at a rate too high for all to be accommodated by government programs.

The homeless count conducted in January found Los Angeles had 41,290 homeless people, a 14.2% increase from the 36,165 homeless people in 2019.

Even as we confront the immediate challenge of COVID-19, we continue to do the long-term work of creating high-quality housing for our most vulnerable residents,” Garcetti said at the Nov. 20 opening of Residences on Main, a 50-unit supportive housing development serving homeless families and transitional age youth in South Los Angeles.

The development is the sixth Measure HHH-financed project to open its doors since the bond measure was approved by voters in 2016 and the eighth supportive housing project to finish construction this year, Garcetti said.

Alex Comisar, Garcetti’s deputy communications director, said the mayor is deeply concerned for Angelenos struggling to make rent during the coronavirus crisis and is focused on doing everything possible to help lift them up.

The city has put hundreds of millions of dollars toward homelessness and rental assistance programs since the onset of the pandemic, and the mayor will always keep looking for more,” Comisar said. “The mayor has been clear that we absolutely need more funding from Washington to address the scale of this economic crisis and he is advocating for that assistance aggressively.”

Various news outlets have speculated that Garcetti is under consideration to be secretary of transportation or Housing and Urban Development. However, Garcetti, who was a co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign, has repeatedly said he is not seeking a cabinet position at this time, and his political team has told City News Service since Election Day that he has not considered a position.

Garcetti most recently said he was not seeking a cabinet position Nov. 23 when reporters asked him about it during a COVID-19 update.

I have been focused 110% on these numbers and on COVID and on saving lives,” Garcetti said. “It’s one of the last things on my mind right now. You know, we have deaths that are going to be increasing, we have record numbers of cases and so I don’t have anything to add on that, not because I have anything to hide, I just have nothing to add.

“Right now my job No. 1 is to make sure I protect the lives of Angelenos.”

Garcetti has also drawn protests from the right. Demonstrations against coronavirus-related restrictions organized by the conservative group SaveCalifornia.com were held Nov. 20 and 22 outside Getty House.

Another demonstration against coronavirus-related restrictions was held Nov. 27.