On Wednesday, May 18th, I visited students at Animo Inglewood High School to give them a personal view of how I built my career as a journalist & corporate writer. The students were all high achievers, enrolled for extra credit to hear presentations by career professionals through the Youth Business Alliance. Youth Business Alliance is a non profit that reaches out to students at underserved high schools in Los Angeles to help them better prepare for the world of business after they graduate high school.
In early May, I was carrying out my business as usual as a board member for my neighborhood council in Sunland-Tujunga (in the northeast San Fernando Valley) when a violent transient man, presumably off his meds, pushed me and began screaming obscenities at me after I asked if he could free up a picnic table where he had strewn his personal items. This was just one of the many daily interactions our stakeholders are experiencing from extremely volatile mentally ill persons who the police are unable to arrest or even detain on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.
In my case, this situation was very personal: This 29-year old man, who I later found out is a schizophrenic, was threatening to ‘hurt me’ and later, returned to the park to repeat his threat against me again! Despite calls to the L.A.P.D. I was told that they could not arrest him; that his threats were not “specific enough” and that they didn’t witness any crime being committed. As a follow up to that promise, the detective assigned to my case later told me that the City Attorney had declined my request to press charges against this person. Apparently, we need stronger laws in the City of Los Angeles to protect tax payers, home owners, business owners, and residents who are constantly up against this issue of having no where to turn when they are victimized by street people who are off their meds.
I have created this petition asking the Mayor, Police Commission, and various city officials to begin the process of initiating a California State law called “Laura’s Law” that would improve the police’s capabilities in arresting mentally ill, violent offenders. I hope that you will sign it and share it with others: http://tinyurl.com/EnforceLaura
The situation I am referring to is not specific to Sunland-Tujunga, although I suspect we have more than our share of homeless and with it, mentally ill persons roaming the streets of our community. To the east of us is Glendale, where police are able to enforce much stronger laws relating to transients. Knowing this is the case, many say that the homeless prefer to locate in L.A. because there is no enforcement against them for setting up encampments or sleeping in the doorways of businesses. However, it’s not the homeless that I have an issue with; it’s those who are mentally ill and not receiving any treatment. Many of these people are just plain dangerous!
Last week, a stakeholder told me that she was threatened by a woman at the local Starbucks – the woman told her that she would assault her if she reached for the sugar. In another incident, a stakeholder had a man jump on the hood of his vehicle then kick his door and side mirror – for no apparent reason. In yet another case, a transient ran into a local business screaming at customers, demanding money, and generally disrupting their business, over and over again, last week. When these things happen in L.A., the police are unable to take action to remove these people off the street, and that is exactly why I created this petition.
If the police cannot protect its citizens, then what options do we have but to purchase some sort of protection for ourselves? I’m sure no one wants to see our society degenerate into mob rule. We need stronger laws and more enforcement and training of LAPD officers as well as better emergency care for those who require treatment for their mental illness. We simply can’t allow people who are making threats against others to hurt others or harm the business climate.
Again, please sign my petition and let’s bring about better quality of life in our great city!