A homeless encampment in northeast Los Angeles overrun by gang activity has prompted frustrated residents to beg apathetic city officials for help as their community deteriorates into a dangerous third-world street slum.
Locals living in the Los Feliz neighborhood adjacent to Hollywood say rampant gang activity has taken over areas previously occupied by a peaceful homeless population that were either evicted from the area or exploited by the violent tribes through the drug trade or sex enslavement.
One resident, whose identity is concealed for fear of gang retaliation, provided the photo below and told The Federalist the new encampments possess the sophisticated craftsmanship of wooden structures complete with large-screen TVs and generators with a tarp tossed over them.
“There is no sidewalk anymore,” they said, forcing kids and the elderly to walk along busy streets.
According to Allison Cohen in an editorial for the Los Feliz Ledger, “one homeless man has fully furnished for himself a portion of a nearby underground tunnel that once was used for school children to trespass safely underneath busy Hollywood Boulevard to nearby Los Feliz Elementary School.”
Neighbors meanwhile, for months have become routine victims of vandalism and explicit threats to their own safety as gang turf war rip through their community with armed vigilantes in the streets. The picture provided to The Federalist below from a Ring home security camera depicts what locals report becoming a common occurrence where gang members run fingers across their necks and gesture they’re going to shoot the homeowner.
The two gangs skirmishing in the area are rated among the most dangerous in the country, the La Mirada Locos, listed as a top ten targeted by the Los Angeles Police Department, and the White Fence, which has been around since the early years of the 20th century.
The Los Angeles Times published a column on the situation in February, but residents say conditions have only continued to deteriorate.
The neighborhood’s local Councilwoman Nithya Raman, a progressive endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America chapter in Los Angeles, Cohen complained, has done little to nothing to deal with the problem. Gang activity is often within a stone’s throw of a Unesco World Heritage site, the Hollyhock House.
COVID rules implemented by the Los Angeles City Council last year barred encampments from being cleared or cleaned, and remain in place despite the city re-opening in the sunset of the pandemic.
“There seems to be only one play the city can make to relieve the situation and that is to have its sanitation department remove the encampment as it blocks the sidewalk and is, therefore, not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Cohen wrote.
Raman, despite constituents raising the alarm over problems in their neighborhood, has only recently recommended this approach, Cohen explained. Ultimately, the process is a long drawn-out course that ends in the gang members ultimately given actual tents in exchange for the cabin-like structures.
Raman’s office told The Federalist they’ve been in meetings with neighbors since January and have indeed recently been working with L.A. Sanitation to ensure ADA compliance. A spokesman for Raman said area crime “overwhelming” targeted the homeless as its victims, contrary to testimony from neighbors who say the entire community is besieged by the lawlessness.
“At the same time, the majority of unhoused residents at Berendo will only be helped by services and housing, and that is where our office has been focusing the majority of our efforts,” wrote Raman Communications Director Jesse Zwick in an email.
The councilwoman ousted an incumbent last fall running on a platform to champion the homeless, a platform exploited by gangs expanding their territory.
Concerned residents disheartened by the government’s response have begun to buy firearms for fear of their own safety. Another resident, whose identity also remains concealed for fear of retaliation told The Federalist, that similar to their liberal neighbors who always explicitly opposed the Second Amendment, they’ve purchased a firearm for self-protection, and won’t check the mail without being armed with a gun or pepper spray.
Rampant homelessness is no unique problem to Los Angeles. The city has long struggled with one of the worst homeless crises in the nation. A federal report released earlier this year showed the L.A. homeless population soaring by 13 percent from 2019 to 2020 to more than 66,000 displaced people.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, exacerbated the crisis to new heights, frustrating small businesses already under pressure from the Democratic lockdowns imposed by officials who don’t follow their own edicts. Gangs have begun to encroach in new areas of the city terrorizing locals.
Many locals, the first resident told The Federalist, have empathy and compassion for the struggling homeless, but added, “we don’t have empathy with the violent criminal gang that has guns on them.”
This article has been updated since publication.