City Attorney Mike Feuer granted a meeting with community organizers on September 11, 2013. The attempted meeting, held at City Hall, involved other prosecutors from his office, as well as community members, of the then proposed injunction “safe zone, ” representing three primary involved advocacy organizations. Organizing members of S.T.A.Y., Youth Justice Coalition, and Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council (GEPNC) were present and expecting to share an agenda with Mike Feuer that had been diligently prepared by numerous community members. A formal document was drafted which included both an address from the community as well as detailed analysis and resolutions. The meeting was rudely cut short, the entire document was set aside, and the Community-Prepared Agenda was condescendingly dismissed by Mike Feuer. The following letter was shared with City Attorney’s remaining staff after he left the meeting.
Dear Mr. Mike Feuer, September 11, 2013
We wish to congratulate you on your new position in office as our City’s Attorney. Our community is aware of your work, and we are hopeful that you will continue to make meaningful strides towards the direction of social justice for our entire Los Angeles community. With your already established legacy in mind, and as an established advocate for the marginalized in society, we ask you to slow the process of imposing an injunction on members of our community.
The legal process that started under your predecessor is moving forward, but you have the opportunity to listen to voices in our community who strongly oppose segregating a group of citizens and withdrawing certain rights from them. We do not support ‘criminals,’ instead we seek to foster an environment of trust in our community leading to mutual support.
We know that for each community member who is facing a number of challenges there is a network of worthy people who can help them in their healing process. We need the cooperation of city agencies, the police and prosecutors in this effort to lift ourselves up and improve our neighborhoods.
It is important to emphasize that opposition to the injunction runs across racial, class and all abstract barriers within our community. The opportunity here, with consciousness of this issue rising in our community, is for real substantial community building to flourish and grow out of this experience. The threat of an injunction has brought many of us together who might not have found each other otherwise.
The actual imposition of an injunction will only foster fear, dissolution and mistrust. It’s our strong feeling that while we cannot condone crime in our community, we must protect young people from being categorized as criminals by association with friends, family and community members who have crossed the line. There are laws on the books to address criminal acts.
Furthermore, as advocates of Economic Justice and Non-violence, our community is concerned that this injunction is a civil matter. Following from this civil action, citizens may be criminalized without having recourse to a public defender.
This means that targeted citizens who lack means to legal counsel are subject to a sophisticated system where they don’t stand a chance of fighting for their rights. The expense of arguing that a mistake has been made will be prohibitive for many.
Our communities’ overriding reason for opposing this injunction is advocacy for children. It has been said that only “hard core” criminals will be subject to sanctions. The prosecutors say that our communities favor the injunction.
We are certain that the lives of all the children whose parents, mostly fathers, can be expected to be harassed under this injunction were not considered. If crimes are committed, then use laws on the books to prosecute them. Don’t make innocent children suffer when their parents are taken away either for 6 months or even just a couple of trips to court or the back of a patrol car.
Children suffer when parents lose their jobs, dignity and any hope of redemption due to punitive harassment. These children cannot be expected to grow up feeling safe around officials. The injunction can only deepen fears and mistrust. It is suggested that those promoting the injunction consider how children and families are impacted in this effort.
Thank you for sharing your time and attention with us. We are looking forward to establishing a relationship that will lead to a positive and beneficial solution for our children and youth.
S.T.A.Y. Standing Together Advocating for our Youth Organizers;
YJC Youth Justice Coalition Organizers;
and the unified community membership of:
Echo Park, Vista Hermosa,
Angeleno Heights, Silver Lake, and Elysian Valley.