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Red Carpet Ableism in Hollywood

Hollywood Boulevard is shut down again for yet another premiere. But who's forced out to let that happen?

Hollywood Boulevard is shut down again for yet another premiere. I think it’s Star Wars Episode MXXXCDVIIIIIIII this time.

For people not from LA, and I guess even a lot of people from here, every time there’s an event like this in Hollywood, LAPD gets really aggressive with homeless sweeps to clear them out so that the cameras and beautiful celebrities descending from the hills won’t have to see them. It also really fucks with working class people who depend on public transportation. Disabled people in both camps suffer doubly.

Millennial Blue Falcon. Blue Falcon is military jargon for “buddy fucker.” 

Before the Oscars, mounted police harassed folks while letting their horses shit right next to tents and not cleaning it up. They still pull this stuff.

Horse feces, presumably from a police horse, on the sidewalk under an overpass next to several sleeping bags
I assure you, neither we nor the unhoused residents here own horses.

Hollywood has one of the biggest homeless populations in the country (2nd in terms of neighborhoods in LA after Skid Row). This morning 10 officers ambushed an encampment here we’ve been working with and illegally destroyed all of their belongings. When they tried to exercise their rights and cite city ordinances back to the officers (you know, THE LAW), they laughed in their faces. We observed a few more smaller impromptu sweeps across Hollywood today as well.

Residents and city officials routinely use ADA regulations to claim that tents are blocking wheelchair access, and therefore need to be removed or destroyed. Ironically, the unhoused residents themselves are often physically disabled, and have had their wheelchairs and walkers destroyed during these sweeps.

It’s perfectly fine in LA to regularly block off entire streets for film shoots and premieres though, and to store film equipment on the sidewalk.

The presence of feces is also used as an excuse to conduct sweeps, but never to install bathrooms. I don’t know where City Council thinks homeless people are getting fresh horse shit from though.

The elevator at my LA Metro stop was also out for over a month. The ones at the next two stops are out now too. Today I helped an abuela with her grandchild carry her stroller down the stairs. Metro employees were present, but did nothing to help. When elevators are out, people who need them have to get off at the next stop, then must wait for a bus to take them back to the previous one. A lot of the times the bus is already full or its ramp isn’t working. I called both Metro and my city council office about my stop’s elevator and tried to convey how much more difficult this makes people’s lives. Neither cared.

The last time streets were blocked off for a premiere in Hollywood, I had to walk an extra mile to catch my bus transfer. I honestly don’t know how people less mobile than me get around in this city.

Last night I helped push a homeless women in a wheelchair across the street downtown. She was trying to catch the bus there that was about to leave. The bus was only halfway full, and two men were occupying two of the six seats in the section reserved for wheelchairs. I guess the bus driver asked them to move, and they refused. I got on and politely asked for one of the men’s attention so that I could ask him if he would shift over a seat. The bus driver yelled at me, saying that I couldn’t ask him to move (I hadn’t asked anything yet) and tried to kick me off. The woman in the wheelchair put up enough of a commotion that the bus driver asked the men once more to move. They finally did, begrudgingly, and only then did the driver lower the ramp. I helped get the woman in the wheelchair on board and situated. She was very grateful to me, and very upset that no one else bothered to help her at all.

For the record, this is the same Metro department that has a policy allowing cops to order teenage girls to take their feet off of seats, and then send eight more officers to arrest her if she refuses, but also has some Patriot Act type policy banning speech that may involve passengers politely talking to each other if the driver feels that speech encroaches on their authority.

In summation, the city and NIMBYs pretend to care about the physically disabled when it means criminalizing homelessness. Unless of course the disabled people we’re talking about are homeless, then of course criminalization takes precedence. And when access gets in the way of studios making money, naturally no one cares about either.