On Tuesday February 28, 2012, 3rd Avenue between Sunset and Rose was closed off for almost seven hours (2:30 – 9:00 pm) while hordes of LAPD personnel scoured the area for a “drug suspect” who got away. Coincidentally, 3rd Avenue happens to be the location where a large group of homeless people congregate at night to sleep on the sidewalk between the hours of 9:00 pm and 6:00 am. The street closure and presence of dozens of police personnel was attributed to a “criminal investigation” following an alleged drug bust gone awry.
At the peak of this “investigation” there were 10-12 patrol cars, 1 large LAPD operations vehicle, several undercover LAPD cars, half a dozen detectives, a host of officials coming and going, a helicopter overhead, circling 3rd Avenue (and no further) for almost 4 hours; and Fox 11 news !!!
If that isn’t overkill we don’t know what is. Capt. Peters was overheard stating that the same treatment would apply if a civilian had been attacked – we think not.
Why LAPD over-reacted to this incident may never be known but word on the street is that two undercover officers tried to set up a drug deal on 3rd with the suspect, who got away, after being tasered twice and scuffling with the uniformed officers called to the scene.
Rumors were rife on the street that the suspect was shot and killed by officers or, shot himself. Fortunately, to the best of our knowledge, nobody was killed and the officers were not badly injured.
But, this question remains: is this a reasonable use of our tax dollars?
Almost immediately, an anonymous email was circulated on the internet linking the “suspect” with the homeless people who sleep on 3rd, accusing them of being “drug addicts and criminals”:
“Date: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 13:50:10 -0800
Subject: Venice Beach
To: Charlie.Beck@lapd.lacity.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Arturo.Pino@lacity.org
To all those who may be concerned:
” This is what happens when drug addicts and criminals are given a free place to stay by the beach”. It appears that our Councilman and folks in this city have given a higher priority to social services rather than to the safety of our community. What we have noticed is a lawlessness that seems to be allowed to continue at the expense of our safety here in Venice Beach. This is destroying our way of life here in Venice. The City Council’s political decisions unfortunately appear to be allowing this to continue. Please reconsider this political problem.
This type of message only exacerbates the problem by falsely implicating homeless people as “drug addicts and criminals”. The person who wrote this email obviously makes broad assumptions based on limited information. Like the person who stood on the corner of Rose and 3rd during the “investigation” claiming that an officer had been stabbed – another assumption that proved to be untrue. People who spread inaccurate information to incite anger and hatred are like people who throw stones in glass houses – sure to crack.