In September 2017 homeless advocates packed the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting as they prepared to vote on whether to file a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that allows the homeless to sleep on public sidewalks and in city parks. The board was divided and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was the swing vote.
During the contentious meeting, Supervisor Kathryn Barger had this to say.
“We are grappling with a problem of unprecedented scale,” she said of the nearly 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, many of them living outdoors. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we have access to every tool at our disposal to combat homelessness.”
The usual way elected officials have combated homelessness involves spraying down sidewalks and throwing out people’s possessions as trash. Some are lucky enough to gain shelter in the local jail while others are prohibited from sleeping in their cars.
Supervisors Barger and Janice Hahn said the county would be “powerless” and impede law enforcement from clearing them out.
It is unknown how many shelters have been built by LA County Supervisors, but the Supreme Court declined to overturn their ruling and stated emphatically that citizens have a right to sleep in public spaces, until enough shelter is provided.
During that September meeting, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ridley-Thomas was silent during the debate and provided no discussion on his affirmative vote to file the brief along side the city of Boise. Now, that he is up for re-election, he has plenty to say. Even copying the same talking points used by his colleague.
“With unprecedented numbers of people falling into homelessness nationwide, we are experiencing an urgent humanitarian crisis. More than 1,000 individuals will die on Los Angeles County streets this year. Supporting the city of Boise’s position to appeal to the Supreme Court was never an attempt to criminalize the homeless. Rather, it was a pursuit of a legal framework that is clear, in comparison to a status quo that is ambiguous and confusing.”Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
Ridley-Thomas has also said the ruling only hampers the county’s ability to help people living on the streets, and the decision will continue to create unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
Why haven’t the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors helped people living on the streets by building more shelters?
And Mark Ridley-Thomas wants you to make him a councilman, in Los Angeles, who is also dealing with record breaking numbers of people living in public spaces?
#JustSayNO to career politicians who do more talking than actually doing.