What’s the Difference Between Charlottesville and Downtown LA? None, if You’re Standing in Skid Row

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS-- While many Americans across the country are speaking out against the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia recently for being racists, here in Downtown Los Angeles people are spewing their own dislike for and opposition to white supremacy.   

The funny thing about that is in observing all of this from Skid Row, the very same one-dimensional, elitist mindset the white supremacists in Charlottesville are being looked down on for is EXACTLY the same one-dimensional, elitist, mindset that people in Downtown LA thrust upon the efforts to create the Skid Row Neighborhood Council only a few months ago. 

When Skid Row residents initiated an effort to create a new governing body to help improve Skid Row, commonly known as “the homeless capitol of America”, which led to an election back in April of this year, the Downtown LA air was filled with not only smog, but also a constant mean-spirited, hate-filled energy which mirrored the hate-filled energy coming out of Charlottesville. 

The “invisible enemies” tactic was used in both regards. In Charlottesville, their chant was “We gotta take our country back”. The natural response is “From whom?”…Because if White America conquered and controls America from it’s beginning to today, who, then are white supremacists wanting to take their country back from?...Exactly!….An invisible enemy is created merely to rally their base into action. 

In Downtown LA, the chant was “Don’t let ‘them’ divide Downtown Los Angeles” in which the very same “invisible enemies” tactic created an “us versus them” collective mindset AGAINST a homeless community comprised of Skid Row residents who simply exercised our constitutional rights, dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” and followed each and every requirement necessary for the City of Los Angeles to approve the Skid Row Neighborhood Council- Formation Committee’s application and hold a subdivision election, with “officially forming as an NC” as the desired outcome. 

With the Arts District, Little Tokyo and other nearby Downtown communities already in a completely different neighborhood council, the naysayer’s “keep Downtown united” theme doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, so to us in Skid Row there had to have been a different reason, but they didn’t ever share that publicly- from which one can argue that they deemed their own truth too difficult to publicly reveal. And that opens the door wide open for even more comparisons to Charlottesville. The actual difference, though, is that in Virginia, there were no secrets. In that regard, Downtown LA could learn a lot from what happened in Charlottesville. 

When analyzing all of this, it is unfathomable to think that people in Downtown LA would be against ANY effort to improve Skid Row, let alone one initiated by Skid Row residents who have been waiting for “the powers that be” to finally come up with realistic solutions to ending homelessness in Los Angeles. (Of which “they” have been boasting they were in the process of doing for almost 10 years now…and are now in the process of rolling out a new plan that taxpayers voted to fund)…What was overlooked is the fact that whenever a new plan is rolled out, that automatically means the old plan failed, yet no one admits it publicly which further entrenches all efforts into a foundation filled with layers of deceit and smoke and mirrors campaigns to hide the truth. 

When the mean-spirited SRNC opposition propaganda began, Downtown LA folks sounded like off-key blaring trumpets pushing both wrong notes and sour notes that even supposedly neutral voters joined the off-key chorus, clogging the airwaves with blatantly wrong and down-looking, mean-spirited rhetoric filled with a strong undertone of hate. 

As people across America wag their fingers at Charlottesville, including folks in Downtown LA, apparently no one seems to think voting against and/or cheating against Skid Row is equally harmful to America. 

Think about it- “The Haves” screaming down “The Have Nots”- can be applied in both of these instances. 

The racial undertone in Charlottesville was quite obvious, but in Downtown LA, the fact that Skid Row is a predominantly African-American community often gets overlooked. (Current 2017 Homeless Count data states that Skid Row is a 62% African-American population- per Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) Further, Skid Row Neighborhood Council naysayers consistently and collectively stated that they “had a problem with the leadership of the Skid Row effort”. Yet they NEVER stated what “the problem” was. Also, they NEVER attempted to bring forth their concerns in an effort to allow SRNC-FC leadership to appropriately and fairly address them, especially sense it was false campaign propaganda and/or wrong information altogether. 

How, then, can Downtown LA look down on Charlottesville as if it is honorable in it’s collective actions and aboveboard in it’s politics?  

Even the City of Los Angeles got in on the (racial undertone) act. Immediately after the election (in which Skid Row fell short by a mere 60 votes), three election challenges were filed and accepted by the City of LA. The City convened a grievance review panel which found in favor of Skid Row in all three challenges. However, the City completely disregarded the review panels findings and recommendations and unjustly threw the entire matter “out the window and into the trash” without any logical reasoning that made sense. 

Either they didn’t like the results of the anticipated outcome or maybe they just didn’t want to empower a majority African-American community…which, then, also brings race into the conversation….Charlottesville, anyone? 

While there’s no valid explanation as to what the City’s true reasoning for acting completely beyond a state of “level-headed governance” was, what is blatantly obvious is the fact that NO ONE in Downtown LA has called the City out for it’s reckless behavior and unconstitutional manner in which it handled the end of the SRNC election challenge matter. 

While we in Skid Row NEVER play the race card, it’s quite interesting how similar the anger in Downtown LA was then to the anger in Charlottesville now. 

What’s also interesting is that almost immediately after the SRNC election, all the naysayers all but disappeared and abandoned all their campaign rhetoric filled with empty promises and false hope about “us all coming together now to improve Skid Row”…Where did they all go? Skid Row is still in need. 

What’s also interesting to note is that the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council decided to create an ad-hoc committee for the specific purpose of meeting monthly in Skid Row and discussing Skid Row matters with the Skid Row community. The first meeting was held in July and due to an embarrassingly-poor turnout, no further meetings have been scheduled…So much for the DLANC being the leaders of change. And speaking of change, if Skid Row residents were attempting to improve were we live by creating change, to vote against the SRNC is to desire keeping Skid Row the exact same way it is now- homelessness everywhere!...Maybe it’s not about “ending homelessness”….Maybe it’s all about control- The very same concerns the “alt-right” had in Charlottesville….The Haves (White America) keeping control over the Have Nots (The rest of us) 

So, again, with all the off-key blaring trumpets vanishing into thin air, when are all the SRNC naysayers going to UNITE all of Downtown LA, which includes Skid Row? 

From where we stand in Skid Row, it’s apparent that Downtown LA doesn’t realize it’s only looking in the mirror as it points fingers at Charlottesville, Virginia.


(General Jeff … Jeff Page … is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles. Jeff’s views are his own.)