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Further accounts by Brian Feinzimer and Lita Martinez.
California highway patrols detained several people on the eve of Thanksgiving after activists occupied the empty El Sereno houses owned by Caltrans.
The transit agency bought earlier the homes with taxpayers ’money (and in some cases prominent provinces) as part of plans to link the Alhambra 710 motorway with the Pasadena 210 motorway. After six decades of debate and litigation, this project was he was officially killed in 2018.
Activists of the recapture and reconstruction of our community believe that Caltrans should allow people experiencing homelessness to live in empty houses.
In press release issued before the action, the organization said:
“We, a group of homeless activists and families, are taking this situation into our own hands … The system has failed all of us – especially in the color communities, as it has created this housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by COVID and the economic crisis. governments are going to thousands of buildings … that should be used for affordable housing. “
LAist contacted the California Highway to confirm details of yesterday’s action, but has not yet received feedback from the agency.
Photojournalist Brian Feinzimer, who documented the protest, says when he arrived early in the afternoon, he saw a handful of CHP officers in front of some houses. When he returned around 9 p.m., he estimated he saw about 30 activists and 40-50 CHP officers in tactical or anti-riot gear in front of a house near the intersection of Concord Ave. and Midvale Place.
Feinzimer said one of the CHP officers announced an illegal rally, but protesters ignored the announcement and continued to demonstrate.
“CHP officers moved between several homes to free the activists,” Feinzimer says. “It was a cat and mouse game. In fact, the activists used themselves as physical shields to prevent officers from entering the homes.”
Lydia Ramos, a resident of Keats Street in El Sereno, told Feinzimer that she does not support activists, and most of the neighbors feel that way.
“I all support homelessness,” Ramos said. “There are various sources out there, especially now … but if they decide to just come illegally, they obviously think, ‘I can take over,’ I’m not okay with that.”
NOW: In the East Los Angeles community of El Sereno, dozens of CHP officers – some in tactical gear – are driving out and arrest people who have opened empty homes owned by the state of CA (Caltrans). Currently, a scatter command is given to a group of demons. pic.twitter.com/98GX8sXXg1
– Brian Feinzimer (@bfeinzimer) November 26, 2020
Activists he undertook a similar action in March this year he will “recover” an empty house at 3135 Sheffield Avenue in El Sereno.
According to Ramos, the recent occupation has acted as a magnet for drugs and crime.
According to Feinzimer, the CHP retreated briefly and then appeared en masse with several officers. At this point, Feinzimer said about two dozen officers formed a district around the home while a small tactical entry team got in.
“As they enter the home, outside activists shout,‘ Shame on you? What are you doing? Why do you use these weapons? “says Feinzimer.
CHP officers took some people out of the home and detained a few more who were standing outside. When officers attempted to move detainees to patrol cars, protesters tried to block them, and Sheffield Ave. and Poplar Blvd.
“It basically became an alarm and a protest between 10pm and midnight,” Feinzimer says. “The CHP tried to disperse the group, but the group did not disband. At one point, some sort of audible ammunition was fired into the air, almost like a flash.”
Sometime between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, the CHP broke the rail line and left, according to Feinzimer. He says when he returned and drove around at about 2am, he said it was as if the CHP had reassembled its troops.
“I couldn’t get any closer because we blocked several streets,” Feinzimer says.
The CHP did not respond to LAist’s comments. A Caltrans spokesman issued a statement saying:
“The empty houses along State Road 710 that they broke into are unsafe and uninhabitable for residents. As such, Caltrans has asked CHP to remove the offenders so that the properties can be reinsured and boarded.
Caltrans has worked with local governments to rent more available property for use as a temporary emergency shelter. Recently, the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority signed a lease with Caltrans to use the 22 vacant Caltrans-owned properties in Corridor 710 for the city’s temporary housing program.
As Caltrans continues to sell the homes remaining in the hallway, it is committed to working with local organizations and other stakeholders to ensure that the properties are used for affordable housing. “
Caltrans owns 163 houses in Corridor 710.
In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an invoice which allows city organizations and nonprofit tenants living in the Caltrans properties along Corridor 710 to purchase houses at fair value. But many of these houses are still unsold and empty.
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