#EchoParkRiseUp Protestors Organize Against Shutdown of Echo Park Lake Homeless Encampments, Met with LAPD in Riot Gear

Image via Twitter

By Cailin Garcia

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of protestors gathered last night outside of the office of LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell to speak out against the removal of homeless encampments at Echo Park Lake. 

The protests were a continuation of organized action that began earlier in the week, but especially escalated on Wednesday night after the LAPD declared unlawful assembly and attempted to clear demonstrators from the area.

Protesters continued to gather at Echo Park Lake to show their solidarity with the unhoused community. Organizers held signs with phrases such as: “People Are Not Pests,” “Homeless Doesn’t Mean Worthless,” and “Services not Sweeps.” 

Organizers seem to have siginifcant support from the Los Angeles community and beyond. A GoFundMe campaign, organized by Ashley Bennett, titled “Echo Park Rise Up: A Vision of Love and Community” has raised more than $47,000 in support of community outreach efforts in Echo Park. The campaign hopes to “clean up the city and change the way homelessness is viewed forever” by creating a job program, community kitchen, medical tent, community showers, and community gardens for Echo Park’s unhoused community.

A fence was installed around Echo Park Lake after a confrontation between homeless advocates and Los Angeles police. Photograph by Damian Dovarganes/AP

But tensions rose on Thursday morning when LA officials gave encampment residents a 24-hour notice to leave the park. LA officials also installed a large fence around the park and closed off surrounding streets. 

Several videos posted to the #EchoParkRiseUp tag on Twitter, which was largely responsible for organizing the protests, show protestors surrounded by LAPD in full riot gear. 

Last night, the LAPD declared unlawful assembly around 8 p.m., after claiming that the crowd of protestors attempted to use high-intensity lights to blind officers. A designated protest zone was set up on Glendale Boulevard and the LAPD warned that anyone who remained at Echo Park Lake could be arrested and anyone outside of the zone could face misdemeanor charges. 

The exact number of arrests is currently unknown, but CBSLA estimates at least a dozen people were arrested and loaded onto police buses. Among the detainees were several members of the media, including Los Angeles Times Reporter James Queally. 

Queally alleges he was wearing an LAPD-issued press badge lanyard around his neck when LAPD officers grabbed him and zip tied his wrists. A video of the arrest was uploaded to Twitter by fellow reporter Lexis-Oliver Ray, who wrote: “We all got boxed in. James and I were trying to stick together.”

Kate Cagle, a reporter with Spectrum News, faced an almost identical situation. She tweeted a video of herself being escorted away by police after being zip tied. In earlier tweets that same night, Cagle posted photos that showed protestors being “kettled” and “sandwiched between police lines.” 

In response to the protests, Councilman O’Farrell issued a statement on his Twitter: “I urge calm and cooperation tonight at Echo Park as we continue our work to move the final few people experiencing homelessness from the park into transitional housing before the parkspace closes temporarily for repairs.”

Many prominent LA activist groups were critical of O’Farrell’s response. 

“No sleep for politicians who brutalize, displace, and harm their constituents. Shame on you Mitch O’Farrell,” tweeted Street Watch LA.

“LAPD shot 6 people in 7 days. They are now going to violently arrest 100s of people and displace 100s of residents of Echo Park Lake,” tweeted People’s City Council of Los Angeles. “This is not a safe situation for us. Make this national news. All blame on Mitch O’Farrell.”

This morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti also commented on the situation, stating: “You know, people want to provoke. I think a lot of people who were protesting didn’t know that there were only two people last night even left in the park, and those people have kind of refused to go, but hopefully, we’re optimistic and we’ve given more time to those folks.”

“I love activism, I love the attention on homelessness that happens. But I think to make sure that folks wouldn’t surge in and prevent the housing operation that was happening and the ultimate closing to clean up the lake, that’s why the police were there,” said Garcetti.

The situation at Echo Park Lake continues to develop, with many demonstrators on Twitter continuing to report heavy police presence in the area.

Cailin Garcia is the co-editor in chief and founder of the People’s Vanguard of Los Angeles. Orginally from Santa Clarita, CA, she is currently a senior at UCLA, studying Sociology with a minor in Professional Writing.

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  1. Keith Olsen

    claiming that the crowd of protestors attempted to use high-intensity lights to blind officers

    Anyone caught doing this should be brought up on weapon charges and assault on a policeman.

        1. Alan Miller

          Yeah, who cares if the LAPD shot 6 people in seven days.

          How many were justified shootings, and how many were white supremacist police officers executing people?   Does that matter to you?

  2. Ron Oertel

    So, I read about this yesterday, in the LA Times.  But now, there appears to be several more articles, which I don’t feel like searching through.

    As I recall, all of the “residents” of Echo Park were offered housing (e.g., via Project Roomkey) and that there were only a handful remaining who declined that offer.

    Apparently, protestors vastly outnumbered the remaining “residents”.

    1. Carlos Garcia

      “The SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition late Wednesday demanded the closure be postponed so residents “have the necessary time to meaningfully connect with service providers who are working tirelessly to serve them.””

      1. Ron Oertel

        This has been planned for quite some time, without announcing the exact time of the closure.

        As noted, all of the “residents” were apparently offered housing elsewhere.  Only a handful declined.

        1. Carlos Garcia

          Do you have any experience connecting homeless people with services?  Why did the city not ensure that the people staying in the park were connected?  Why did the police turn this into a major problem themselves?  Why are you defending the police and the city?

        2. Alan Miller

          Do you have any experience connecting homeless people with services?

          Is that a requirement to comment in the Vanguard?

          Why did the city not ensure that the people staying in the park were connected?  Why did the police turn this into a major problem themselves?  Why are you defending the police and the city?

          Why ask why?  Try Bud Dry.

          The SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, do they have any connection to the People’s City Council of LA?

          Years ago a good friend had an activist group (that will remain un-named).  He registered as a non-profit, paid the fee, gathered a board of friends who basically agreed with him and had a gathering (board meeting) once a year.  And whenever the media needed a quote, they called him and gave his opinion as the ‘Blankity Blank Coalition’.  So unless it’s like the ACLU . . .

  3. Ron Oertel

    Interesting (if somewhat off-topic) note regarding this park:  I recall reading that it served as the setting for a number of early Hollywood films (e.g., Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin’s character – the “original” homeless person).

    Some of those old films show-off a very different (probably “better”) LA. Even the park itself looks somewhat different.

  4. Alan Miller

    Hey, this article gives me a light bulb over the head!

    The City has been looking for a place to allow homeless to camp.  Undoubtedly, this will be difficult.  We should learn from LA homeless advocates —

    Turn Central Park into a homeless camping area!

    And after that Chesnut Park and Slide Hill Park and then all he greenbelts!  And if the city or the citizens don’t like it, hire a HAL (Homeless Advocate Lawyer) to sue the city!  And if our citycouncilmembers try to do anything about the tents, protest outside their homes!

    Now that is a civil town.  That is Davis (little L.A.)

        1. Ron Oertel

          That got posted before I completed the phrase.  (I have already asked David to update it.)

          But yeah – if you’re going to permanently camp under trees (e.g., in a park that already has a history of that) . . .

          (Perhaps this clarification can remain, without updating the comment.)

    1. Alan Miller

      Headline in Enterprise in Late 2021:

      “DPD shot 1/6 of a person in 7 days. They are now going to violently arrest 10s of people and displace 10s of residents of  Central Park” tweeted People’s City Council of Davis. “This is not a safe situation for us. Make this national news. All blame on [Insert City Councilmember name here].”

  5. Ron Glick

    I have fond memories of Echo Park as a kid. I went there for both the Pinewood Derby and the Shingle Boat Regatta. Yes it was a great set place for the movies as were many of the City Parks in LA. In the movie Baby Face Nelson there is a scene set on the swings I played on as a kid.

    When I read these stories about LA and the worse than Third World conditions of the homeless there I am saddened. When I was a kid there was Skid Row downtown but it was only about a block long. Now it goes on for miles. The Venice Boardwalk has been turned into a homeless camp as well. Its like “Blade Runner” has become reality in LA.

    Mass homelessness is the outcome of all kinds of societal failures. I don’t blame anyone in particular but I do blame everyone collectively.

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