A report from the ground in Los Angeles following the first attempted police raid of the Echo Park encampment on March 24th.
At 7am on March 24th upwards of 200 people held a demo at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles. The gathering was called for a few days prior, in defense of a unhoused camp at the park, which over the course of the pandemic had swelled to around 300 tents. Alongside the tents, unhoused residents, and housed people in solidarity, had built collective infrastructure which maintained the camp and provided for a certain degree of autonomy from the city’s notoriously unfit social services. A community garden, trash removal, running water and showers formed a web of refuge within broader context of a state enforced condition of duress. Although the cops didn’t sweep the camp on the morning of the 24th, later in the day rumors circulated of a nighttime raid. Photos on twitter showed an LAPD staging ground where huge masses of cop cars and arrest buses has set up just a couple miles from the park. A second demo was called for 7pm.
Last night, LAPD air units were caught joking over police radio about burning homeless people and activists alive by dumping fuel on them.
LAPD Pilot 1: “I would have dumped [fuel] on Glendale Blvd a long time ago.”
LAPD Pilot 2: “I’ll bring the match.”
— Chad Loder (@chadloder) March 25, 2021
Before most people could even show up to the park, police in riot gear had formed lines blocking off all but one entrance to the area surrounding Echo Park Lake. While many turned away, unable to find a way into the park, or gathered in small groups at the closed off entrances, hundreds circumnavigated the police lines and formed a crowd on Glendale Blvd, confronting the cops despite their tactical advantages and heavy handed attempts to enforce the sweep.
The night of March 24th saw some of Los Angeles’s most motivated clashes since last summer’s George Floyd Rebellion. As a result, the sweep was called off for the night.
Fireworks, shields and flashlights were utilized by the crowd. Small crews came prepared with goggles and other protective gear. At certain points, the relatively small but determined crowd were able to push lines of police SUVs into retreat. The night of March 24th saw some of Los Angeles’s most motivated clashes since last summer’s George Floyd Rebellion. As a result, the sweep was called off for the night. However, city workers constructed a fence surrounding the park preventing anyone inside from coming or going. This enclosure reminds us that the city’s motivation for the sweep is not only the continuation of their ongoing criminalization of houselessness, but the prerequisite for a 500 million dollar “renovation” of the park itself.
— Ktown for All 💜❤ (@KtownforAll) March 25, 2021
While the unhoused camp, and its potential eviction, is certainly motivation enough for action on the part of Angelenos. It is not the only motivation for the city’s siege on Echo Park Lake. The park is frequented by punks, latinx cyclist crews, queers, rave kids, un-permitted street vendors, and other rowdy groups of friends. The air at the lake on any given weekend is filled with overlapping soundtracks: cumbia, trap, hardcore, techno and reggaeton all taking up space in the sonic landscape.
YALL ITS GOING DOWN IN ECHO PARK pic.twitter.com/T1zUDUoBkE
— People’s City Council – Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) March 25, 2021
During the summer it was a gathering point for numerous protests. When the Dodgers won the world series, Echo Park lake was one focal point of a city-wide party riot. Throughout the pandemic it has been home to a kind of heterogenous social life which has been stamped out throughout much of the city. The scene at Echo Park Lake is collective social life and refuge for the unhoused. All of this despite the stranglehold gentrification has on large parts of the surrounding neighborhood. White middle class people moving into the area, developers and the city want a sanitized Echo Park, no more tall cans, just jogging. All of this is not to misconstrue the Lake as some kind of utopia, social relations at the park are still formed by and through racial-capitalism. It is however the kind of place which reminds us of the possibility of life beyond those strictures.
This enclosure reminds us that the city’s motivation for the sweep is not only the continuation of their ongoing criminalization of houselessness, but the prerequisite for a 500 million dollar “renovation” of the park itself.
While the discourse on the part of housing activists here in Los Angeles often falls into allyship logic, we propose a defense of Echo Park Lake which takes into account all of our differing but interconnected stakes. The sweep of the park’s homeless camp and it proposed closure is an attempt to enclose one of Los Angeles’s few kernels of communal sociality.
For anybody who’s ever drank a tall can,
made out on a blanket,
forked over two bucks for an elote,
carved out a space to sleep at night or take a shower,
planted a garden,
gotten into a dumbass fight,
played music from a bluetooth speaker,
seshed with friends
DEFEND THE ENCAMPMENT
DEFEND THE LAKE
DEFEND THE COMMONS
Some Anarchist Angelenos