Council St & N Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90004
November 8, 2018
On the morning of Thursday November 8, 2018, City of Los Angeles municipal employees had been tasked with seizing and destroying a homeless man’s meager possessions on Council St just west of North Vermont Avenue, a block south of the Beverley/Vermont Red Line station. Several Los Angeles Police Department squad cars and a Department of Streets and Sanitation garbage truck had blocked the street to carry out this task. On the north side of the sidewalk, a row of personal belongings lay scattered on the ground; a tent, the tent’s residents’ clothes, and other accumulated property, arranged in heaps on the sidewalk next to a fence separating the parking lot from the sidewalk.
Men dressed in head to toe white bio-hazard suits, white face masks, wearing bright blue gloves moved quietly and methodically, throwing a homeless man’s belongings into the garbage truck. A uniformed officer wearing gloves and a mask similarly stood, grabbing trash and belongings with a silver metal pole from which an extendable claw grabbed soiled sweaters and rags, operated by a wire running down the pole’s side, and a trigger at its handle. A tall lanky white man with long dirty blond hair fumbled on the sidewalk; he struggled to close a clear plastic 60 pound garbage bag—the only item he would be allowed to keep.
A group of three of the workers decked in bio-hazard gear grabbed a white metal clothes rack– complete with a mirror, several clothes hangers, and a few white collared button-down dress shirts, presumably property of the homeless individual who wore them when heading out to apply for different jobs. They hoisted the entire rack, mirror and all, into a trash compactor, which in a high pitched wine of hydraulic pumps intermixed with a steady periodic crunch–the crunch of the flimsy metal clothes rack, glass mirror with its carved ornate white wooden frame, clothes hangers, and clothes, splintered, shattered, and crushed between two sheets of think dump truck steel powered by that winning hydraulic press.
As I turned around my car to leave, I nodded to two male cops, sitting in their squad card talking to a female officer who was leaning against one car’s passenger side door. They nodded back. Who knew that the LAPD police academy would prepare these officers to throw away the few meager possessions of Angelenos hard on their luck—whose only crime was trying to survive to save up the cash to pay the first months rent and a security deposit on an apartment of their own.