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Patrols, Cleanups Increase at Pershing Square - Los Angeles Downtown News - For Everything Downtown L.A.!: News

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Patrols, Cleanups Increase at Pershing Square

Task Force Addresses Drug Use and Other Problems in park in Wake of arrival of Occupy Protesters

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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 5:01 pm

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Increases in drug use, human waste and a spate of verbal and physical confrontations in Pershing Square have prompted a strong response from the city — police patrols and cleanups are being increased, and a task force has been formed to deal with problems officials imply stems from the presence of Occupy L.A. members in the park.

 “We want to make sure that we take care of this real jewel we have in the middle of Downtown L.A.,” said 14th District Councilman José Huizar, whose territory includes the Financial District site, and who propelled the formation of the task force. “We’ve been hearing from stakeholders about the decaying conditions at Pershing Square in terms of public safety. For example, there has been a lot of disruption at the farmers market.”

The task force includes representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, the Department of Recreation and Parks, LAPD and Huizar’s office. Steps so far include the placement of uniformed police at the park on a daily basis, said LAPD Capt. Horace Frank. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has stepped up its visitations to the park to offer services to people who congregate there. The city has also installed 13 solar trash compactors to deal with waste and reduce vermin.

Frank said private security guards who patrol the park under contract with the city have stepped up their roles and are now conducting citizens arrests for certain crimes, whereas before they would just report them to the LAPD. There has also been an increase in narcotics and undercover officers at the park, he said.

While officials aren’t laying the sole blame for the new concerns at the park on any particular group, Huizar said some of the problems began after members of the Occupy L.A. movement began using the park as a home base. 

 “Once we had Occupy L.A. there, there has been this hands-off approach because of the number of people who have been gathering there. But whether it’s Occupy L.A. or anyone else, everyone has the right to enjoy the park,” Huizar said.

The loosely banded group currently holds its “general assembly” meetings at Pershing Square three days a week. During this month’s Art Walk, members of the movement covered nearly all of the concrete surfaces of the park in chalk.

John Edwards, president of Raw Inspiration, which runs the Wednesday farmers market at Pershing Square, has said that the increase in what appear to be members of the Occupy movement has hampered business for weeks. He said some people were in sleeping bags next to food tables, while others aggressively panhandled for food and urinated or defecated nearby.

Those conditions resulted in nine farmers dropping out of the market, and a drop of about 40% in business, he said. However, yesterday’s market, the first for which the changes were implemented, was much improved, Edwards said.

“It’s clean, police are patrolling the park, there’s more people,” he said. “There’s no question that it’s much better. The question is whether they’ll keep it up.”


©Los Angeles Downtown News.



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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Christopher Eaton posted at 12:16 am on Sun, Aug 26, 2012.

    SCboi67 Posts: 3

    Patrolling the park is not enough. It became abundantly clear during the long, grueling summer when the Occupy morons multiplied in the south part of the park like unwanted dandelions that the park is hugely lacking planning and activities. There should be a spew of concerts, plays, performers, and cafes in the park. Instead, we get one measly concert series in the summer and ice-skating for 2 months each year. Surely we can do better than this. A few years ago, an ad hoc committee had been formed at City Hall to create new activity centers around the park, including work out equipment. Why not? Where are the early morning Tai Chi groups, a children's playground, another fountain or two. The problem with the square isn't its design. It's what's lacking between the lines so to speak. Reopen the cafe, for God's sake open the lawn and be imaginative. Jose Huizar, you wanted the rest of downtown, show us that you're worthy of our trust (I live at 5th and Spring). You've done little to inspire our confidence so far. Jan Perry would never have let the park descend to the level of decrepitude that it did this summer when it looked like a 3rd world square. DO BETTER.

  • Rox Berry posted at 11:47 am on Thu, Aug 23, 2012.

    RoxBerry90013 Posts: 60

    I tried to run a buisiness nearby and only wish people cared as much then as they pretend to now.

    Edited by staff.