DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Last Wednesday, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich held a press conference in Gladys Park downtown, discussing an initiative that, if passed, could drastically decrease the Skid Row drug trade. The Central City Recovery Zone initiative identified 80 suspected drug dealers who would be banned from the Skid Row area, which is known as a hub for drug sales and use.
The 80 suspects all have multiple drug-related convictions, and are believed to be selling mostly crack cocaine, but also marijuana, heroin, and meth, on Skid Row, with fifty-three believed to have gang affiliations. All are considered to be “commuters”; they do not live on Skid Row, but merely come to the area to sell to the people on the streets of Skid Row, many of which are struggling with addiction and have come to Skid Row for recovery services.
This problem is not new to Skid Row; for years local residents have been victim to the gangs and dealers who drive in at night to sell, often right outside the missions and clinics. Although typically gangs become territorial about selling areas, downtown has remained mostly nonviolent over the years due to the fact that sellers know there are enough profits to go around. Gang violence, which would bring police attention and threaten their most reliable source of income, has been kept to a minimum.
The injunction would establish the “Central City Recovery Zone”, bordered by Broadway, Central Ave, Third Street, and Ninth Street. It will require approval from a judge before implementation, but the goal is to protect an area that is home to many people trying to recover from addiction and are seeking recovery services.
Although the 80 people on the ‘banned list’ would be arrested for entering this Zone, they do have an opportunity to be removed from this list. Not only will they be able to contest their inclusion, but they can also be exempted by proving that they actually live in the area or are there for recovery services themselves.
Those allowed to stay in the Recovery Zone will still have rules to abide by, including a ban on firearms, ammunition and narcotics possession, acting as a connecting point for buyers and sellers, or even alerting other sellers of law enforcement.
A hearing is expected during the next several weeks, at which point the LAPD will have 45 days to notify the 80 suspected dealers. For additional information including pictures from the event, be sure to read Rev. Andy Bales blog post “We Asked For This” dated 4-7-2010. Union Rescue Mission will continue to share information on this important issue as it becomes available