I am writing this on behalf of an unhoused woman who is afraid of not being believed if she told this story, but felt it was important to share. A few months ago, she told me about an older man with facial hair who followed her for several blocks in a light blue Subaru Crosstrek or Outback. He asked her where she sets up her camp and began videotaping her. She yelled for him to leave her alone multiple times, but he continued to follow her until she got to a more public area.
Thanks to the Venice Beachhead’s last issue, which featured caricatures of some of the LA City Council District 11 candidates, she saw Jim Murez’s drawing and instantly recognized him as the man that she had been describing for months. It was further confirmed when I found a picture of him with facial hair posted on his Facebook (listed below) and through reading the sexual allegations on him in the same Beachhead.
Although this incident is one of many examples of harassment that this woman experiences in this community, it has added to her trauma and triggers her to see a similar vehicle. As an advocate for the homeless, we have been working on how to make Venice safer largely inspired by this event. It must be noted that such an effort and this article risk further jeopardizing the safety of a vulnerable person. It takes a profound level of bravery to allow this story to be published.
When some of the so-called leaders in the region are among the greatest perpetrators of harm, it is a further reminder that our community is only as safe as its most vulnerable members and a lot needs to change. When we see patterns like allegations against Jim Murez come up, we should take it seriously (along with last month’s article, multiple allegations were listed in a July 2021 Venice Beachhead). He should not be in any leadership role; not in his current position as president of Venice Neighborhood Council and operator of the only farmer’s market in Venice (where many of the allegations take place), nor as a City elected official. He is taking space away from the leaders who could protect against predators like himself and create a society that is truly peaceful.