Third Annual Venice Community Sleep-Out

By Mary Getlein

The third annual Venice sleep-out went on without a hitch. Beyond Baroque lawn was filled with tents and people sleeping, talking, laughing, and eating. The performance stage was filled with with various and different performers raging from Ross Altman, a local folksinger, the the hard-working Carol Sobel, who has represented many homeless people caught up in the “false” arrest system currently in place with the LAPD.

The sleep-out was an educational event for me. Hosted by Occupy Venice, there were many opportunities to learn how to deal with the hierarchy of power in LA. The homeless are on the bottom of that hierarchy, and are the easiest targeted. When the LAPD decides to do a “sweep,” they “sweep” everyone out of a location.

Most people on the street get tickets for non-crimes: smoking a cigarette, flicking ashes from a cigarette, sitting in a place that isn’t designated for the homeless people, sleeping in a vehicle, eating or serving food to other hungry people: these are all considered a crime by the LAPD and tickets are handed out for them. Most people don’t have any money to go to court and fight the tickets, which go to warrants and the homeless person goes to jail and loses all of his or her stuff. Total harassment and intimidation of the people who are living at the bottom of the so-called “ladder of success” in America.

At the Venice sleep-out were four workshops that you could go to, to learn how to navigate the system. The workshops were about how to organize, fight foreclosures and evictions, which is the primary reason people are homeless: because there is no more job, no more money, no more home. Kicked into the street by huge banks and corporations that don’t really care and are not bothered with little details like someone’s life.

It was a great event. Two movies were shown: “American Street Kid” and “Inocente Shine Global.” Three artists painted pictures in front of the crowd. A lot of singers, poets and musicians participated, too numerous to mention here. They even had massages, tarot card readings and yoga.

The food was there in abundance. The chili was unbelievably good, and the food never stopped coming. Many different donations came from many stores and restaurants, the Venice Learning Garden and the people of Venice. They kept delivering food all day long. It was really great to see so many local people get involved with this event. There were a lot of alternative newspapers out there dealing with the industrial prison complex in California. Without the homeless, how would the prison system make the money they do? Gotta make that money…

The Beachhead itself was a proud sponsor of the event and manned a table during the day-light hours.

Many thanks to everyone involved in the event. Beyond Baroque hosted it. They show their solidarity with homeless people and poor people everywhere. Much literature has been written by poor people, by disposed people, by people caught in the struggle. They are honoring that tradition. The event was a one-day holiday from being homeless. For one day everyone got to chill, eat, relax and not have to be worried about the police. Everyone was treated with love and compassion. Thanks You, Venice! And Thank You to Occupy Venice and everyone involved.