COVID-19 has disrupted our entire world, and as new data emerges, African American communities continue to experience disproportionate negative outcomes as a result of the pandemic. Health disparities coupled with the economic impact paints a frightening reality; this virus is killing our communities. Additionally, while crime is down across the city, there has been a recent spike in violent incidents and shootings in the 77th and Southeast divisions according to LAPD Crime Data. Combine this with the recent earthquake, and it makes sense why many residents are on edge. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson is addressing these issues by keeping South Los Angeles families engaged and at the forefront of COVID-19 conversations while also pushing for progressive legislation on the City Council.
On Tuesday, April 21, LAPD’s South Bureau Deputy Chief Regina Scott joined U.S. Congressmember Karen Bass and Councilmember Harris-Dawson for a telephone town hall to discuss public safety in South Los Angeles. The conversation topics included how LAPD is addressing the recent rise in violence, including domestic violence cases, steps officers are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as how residents can keep themselves and their neighbors safe.
“This is the biggest crisis that I have experienced in my lifetime because it has impacted our public safety, but also our economic safety as well,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass. “South Los Angeles and communities across the country are experiencing a dramatic change in our daily lives without clear leadership from this administration. I am proud of local leaders for shining a light on COVID-19’s impact on public safety and the work they are doing to address this. We have our people dying because of this virus. We cannot have our people dying because of violence as well.”
“There is no way to sugar coat it, people are upset and afraid, which results in disputes and violence,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott. “We have more officers on the streets to provide a visible presence and deter crime without unnecessary arrests. Their presence also helps LAPD respond to 911 calls quickly. Officers are performing tasks like welfare checks for seniors, supporting testing sites and hosting online community meetings to raise awareness and spread information about COVID-19.”
In addition to the grassroots effort to engage residents around public safety, councilmember Harris-Dawson continues to push for more community protections through legislation at City Hall. On Wednesday, April 22nd, during a meeting that went over 12 hours, Los Angeles City Council members voted on 75 items. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and some of his colleagues on the City Council utilized every measure of their authority to alleviate resident’s hardships during this crisis by adopting motions to expand access to resources for undocumented immigrants, expand paid sick leave, and adopted resolutions to encourage statewide and national leaders to establish rental and mortgage relief programs for people impacted by COVID-19.
Two key legislative items adopted by the City Council were the Right of Recall and Worker Protection Ordinance. City Council also introduced amendments to both ordinances that expand the protections to include employers of hospitality workers, property management service workers and airport workers. These ordinances will ensure laid off workers receive a notice of recall after the emergency order ends and have the opportunity to return to their jobs.
Councilmember Harris-Dawson and his colleagues, including Councilmember Mike Bonin, supported bold legislation that would provide protections to millions of renters across Los Angeles. Council recently adopted a motion to prepare a draft ordinance on freezing rental increases on units that are subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance as well as ensuring a one year rent increase freeze after the emergency order is lifted. However, Council did not adopt similar legislation on rental units not subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Additionally, the request to prepare an ordinance to classify unpaid rent as consumer debt did not pass. The request to prepare an ordinance prohibiting any owner or property manager from terminating a tenancy, serving a notice to terminate a tenancy, or using lockouts or utility shutoff actions to terminate a tenancy, which were also supported by Councilmember Harris Dawson, did not pass either.
“This crisis is presenting new challenges to our community and forcing us to collaborate on new progressive solutions locally as well as citywide, said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. It’s vital that residents remain connected and informed to keep themselves and their neighbors safe during this time. The city and state are requiring folks to make sacrifices and stay indoors and I will continue to fight for legislation that will allow our residents to remain safely in their homes and ensure they can return to work after this pandemic is over.”