by Paula Guadron & Miguel Bravo
On October 2nd, 2013, a youth-led group of community members gathered at Roybal Learning Center in Temple-Bixel area to give a press conference which was followed by a high-energied March to City Hall. The Press Conference March and Community Injunction was a bold and creative action led by Youth Justice Coalition, S.T.A.Y. (Standing Together Advocating for our Youth), and community residents of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Elysian Valley, Temple-Beaudry, and Frogtown in response to City Attorney Mike Feuer’s dishonest and sped-up default process to hurry the injunction into effect.
Press Conference Advocates for Pro-social Alternatives
The Press Conference and March was symbolically started at Roybal Learning Center to draw attention to the City Attorney’s Office consistently vague citing of a complaint by one student that was “harassed by a gang member” on the way to school. The press conference promoted that Safe Passage Programs, Intervention/Peacebuilders in and around schools, and Transformative Justice Programs are all proven, more effective, and economical alternative solutions to school safety.
Youth wearing royal blue graduation gowns & caps alongside youth wearing orange county jail like suits held bright signs that read to the sentiments of ”We Want Jobs-Not Jails” and “Education not Incarceration”. This strong visual enactment expressed the unhealthy reality and impact of what Mike Feuer’s Injunction will translate into for the community’s young men & women.
Providing pro-social alternatives for local youth would look like Access to Education, Job Preparation/Employment, Access to Healthcare, and Collaborative Community Building. However, Mike Feuer and his office have chosen to ignore all these effective & proven alternatives in favor of incarceration, forced evictions, and heavy LAPD surveillance.
Youth March Serves Mike Feuer a Community Injunction
The Social Justice Brigade advanced through Downtown Los Angeles; past Downtown Magnets High School, The L.A. Opera House, The County Controller’s Office, The Million-Dollar L.A. Cathedral, and finally to the City Hall. They had a message to deliver to City Attorney Mike Feuer, the Head of the Gang Unit Anne Tremblay, and to the Assistant City Attorney and Author of the Echo Park Gang Injunction Jim McDougal— all who are as of now officially served and are under a Community Injunction by the youth and community of the Echo Park “Safety Zone.”
The Community Injunction to be issued to Mike Feuer was prepared in partnership with S.T.A.Y., Youth Justice Coalition, supportive members of both the Echo Park & Silver Lake Neighborhood Councils, and community leaders. It was was to be delivered directly to City Attorney Mike Feuer, Indicting him on Discrimination, Misuse of Power & Influence, and providing him a set of Community Established Restrictions to his Operation.
The spirited group consisting mostly of youth circled up at the City Hall entrance and respectfully asked for permission to enter the building, to no avail. The LAPD officers sent out to monitor the youth & community members only allowed two people access to enter Mike Feuer’s office.
Feuer Deceivingly Evades Youth and Community’s Concerns
The community chose two messengers, a local youth, and a S.T.A.Y. organizer, both who had questions and comments for Mike Feuer regarding his evasion of communication with the Echo Park and surrounding areas community.
S.T.A.Y. organizer Paula Guadron who was allowed access to the City Attorney office was also part of the previous Community Delegate Team attempting to meet with Feuer on September 11, 2013. Guadron was prepared to directly ask Feuer for an explanation regarding the reason he refused to continue the dialogue intended as a bridge for collaboration, and the local youth who accompanied Guadron hoped to share the message of how the Injunction would have severe and negative effects for the youth and their families, and a plea to consider a halt to the Injunction. They would then report back to the community waiting downstairs to relay back the City Attorney’s response.
Unfortunately, Feuer was not available to be personally served or engaged. In his place, the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach (which some of the youth jokingly referred to as Director of Community Dis-engagement and Outrage) Rob Wilcox was sent to intercept the two visitors in the waiting room.
Feuer Sends an Impotent Rob Wilcox to Intercept Community Messengers
Wilcox walked out into the waiting room and announced that Mike Feuer was “out of the office for the day”, but that he would be able to help with whatever issue. The Community’s Injunction was served to Wilcox with instructions to deliver it to Mike Feuer and the gang. Guadron proceeded to ask her intended questions to Wilcox to which he replied that he would not be able to answer questions about why Mike Fuhrer would not meet with the community. He would also not be able to confirm if the community’s letter was received by mail, nor if, in the case that it might have been, if it was even read by the City Attorney.
Wilcox was not aware of any timeline discussed by Judge Khan, nor aware that substantial community delegates in Echo Park and surrounding areas had heartfelt concerns regarding the Echo Park Injunction. The only thing he was aware of, he said, was that the City Attorney had already met with the leaders of the communities mentioned; and that as far as he was concerned, Mike Feuer’s Community Outreach moment was fulfilled.
A Neglectful Wilcox Dismisses Community Messengers
Basically, the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach Rob Wilcox was impotent to answer any questions for Mike Feuer. He also could not acknowledge any previous attempts from the community to establish contact with the City Attorney’s office. Wilcox displayed no empathy for the community’s concerns brought to his attention, and non-verbally called the interaction to a close, merely handing business cards to both community members.
Wilcox gave the impression that Feuer would declare the feeble audience he allotted to community delegates on Sept. 11th, 2013, was his outreach to the community, and that he might even try to claim he did indeed listen to and investigate the communities’ concerns.
Mike Feuer’s Shenanigans Ruin Potential Community Relationship
However, community members know better, and Mike Feuer’s continued dismissive and irresponsible behavior: evading community dialogue, scurrying behind the Community to pass the Injunction, and lying about consulting community concerns makes obvious his disregard for our youth, families, and community.
It seems that Mike Fuhrer was completely undisturbed with the severity of the consequences the community would be experiencing under this Injunction, because he did not acknowledge any attempt from the community to discuss concerns.
Instead, he devised a plan within his office, to hurry up and pass the Injunction at all costs, even the cost of human potential he has put into jeopardy with this irresponsible move. This imprudent decision by Feuer fails to address and resolve the root causes of community & youth violence such as Unresolved Trauma, Lack of Supportive Community Networks, Lack of Culturally Relevant Resources, and Community Neglect from the City.
The fruitful relationship he could have potentially built with the community, which very possibly would have led to improved support and engagement with the City Attorney’s office, LAPD, and other local government agencies, was apparently something he did not care to build.