Occupy L.A.

Downtown L.A. Loft Invasion Is Ethnic Cleansing? Occupy Targets Force Behind Gentrification, Central City Association

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Thu, May 31, 2012 at 7:02 AM
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The Central City Association is an influential downtown business group that has certainly supported the kind of loft development and gentrification that has transformed L.A.'s core in the last 10 years.

While some of you celebrate at Art Walk, happy hour and in the club, there are folks downtown who feel that all the new people, businesses and dwellings have come at the expense of Skid Row's massive homeless population, which they say has been pushed out and targeted by cops.

Now they're doing something about it:

A collection of Occupy organizations is occupying the Central City Association this week. Rather, they're occupying the sidewalk outside the business group's headquarters downtown overnight.

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The "Occupy the CCA" action started Tuesday night and will last seven days (info).

Bilal Ali, chair of the Occupy The Hood Los Angeles Action Assembly and one of the organizers of the CCA action, told the Weekly yesterday:

This is not occupation, this a siege that will last six more days. I guess you can say because of the pattern practices and policies that the Central City Association continues to push on the residents of Skid Row to their detriment to benefit developers and their clientele.

He argues that a reduction in the downtown homeless population in recent years, even in this post-recession environment, has been the result of CCA-backed loft development and a crackdown on transients by the LAPD:

Homeless people have been targeted to remove them. It's ethnic cleansing because a majority of them are African American.

Ali says protesters want to see "equitable development" that benefits the homeless population.

He says Tuesday night's Occupy action drew about 60 people; CCA spokesman Fred Muir told us it was more like 20.

In response to the occupation, Muir sent us this statement from the CCA touting its achievements downtown and claiming that it -- and not Tom Gilmore's Old Bank District rejuvenation, as our reporting led us to believe -- sparked downtown's transformation:

Since CCA sparked the Downtown Renaissance a decade ago, the business community here has created 93,000 jobs, turned empty office buildings

into thousands of housing units and produced more than $41 million in new tax revenue for the City of Los Angeles and $140 million for the County that support critical public services. We've created a community in which hundreds of thousands of Angelinos come every day to work and enjoy entertainment and cultural activities. Our members have donated many millions of dollars to local charities, including those that provide job training and other services for the homeless. We continue to invest in community organizations that make our diverse Downtown community work, and we are supporting the kinds of development that will help to ensure that we create still more jobs and housing and funding of social services. That's our record: jobs, housing, funding critical

services and investing in our community.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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