The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Criminalizing Homeless People

Jun 21, 2021

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrived earlier this month at the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk and gave an ultimatum to the homeless people on the beach: accept services, leave, or be arrested by July 4th. The Sheriff’s Department has already created jail space with 2,000 beds in anticipation of arrests.

As COVID-19 hit last year, the City of Los Angeles, which includes the neighborhood of Venice, imposed a moratorium on encampment sweeps. Formally, this means that the police department (LAPD) is not allowed to conduct such sweeps. However, this city-wide moratorium does not stop the Sheriff’s Department, which also has jurisdiction, from doing the dirty work. The current political jousting between City officials and the Sheriff’s Department only serves to hide how officials are working together to criminalize homeless people.

Historically, Venice was a working-class neighborhood. The vast new boom in tech companies in recent years turned it into “Silicon Beach.” Today, it is one of the richest neighborhoods in the country. The typical cost of a house comes to 2 million dollars. Additionally, Venice Beach is a famous tourist destination that brings in crowds of people from all over the world.

But while Venice is turning into a neighborhood for the rich, it also has seen a large increase in homeless encampments. Second to only downtown, the neighborhood of Venice has one of the largest numbers of homeless people with official tallies at 2,000. As the capitalist class pushes people into these conditions, the growing crisis brings with it all the barbarities caused by these conditions: violence, drugs, and fires that devour entire encampments.

The politicians use the conditions created as an excuse to criminalize the homeless.

At the same time, the worsening of the economic crisis, the growing unemployment, along with ever-higher housing costs, pushes more people onto the streets, even while there are more housing units left empty.

This is the madness of capitalist society. We, the working class, are all a pink slip or an illness away from facing the barbarity of such a reality if we do not change this world.