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LASD Blasted By Advocates For Response To Homelessness Crisis In Venice Area

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Days after the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spoke publicly about addressing homelessness in Venice, community leaders are too speaking out, blasting the LASD for its actions.

The Venice Family Clinic, which has been offering free health care services for more than 50 years, said the sheriff's department -- in its effort to clear out homeless encampments -- is participating in the "forced displacement and criminalization of unhoused people."

"This week, the L.A. County Sheriff and others unfamiliar with Venice and its unhoused residents held press events on the Venice Boardwalk calling for the forced displacement and criminalization of unhoused people in order to 'clean up' the Boardwalk,'' the clinic said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Time and time again, this approach has proven to fail in Los Angeles, and cause harm to people already dealing with crisis, trauma and the extreme lack of affordable housing across our region and especially on the Westside.''

The Venice Family Clinic encouraged kindness toward the unhoused population and an investment from officials in permanent housing solutions, among other critical resources.

"Our collective community will work to provide emergency services, secure, preserve, and build more housing, and stand in solidarity to protect the rights of unhoused folks, and hope that anyone interested in helping alleviate homelessness in Venice and beyond joins the effort from a human-centered, social justice framework,'' the clinic said.

L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice, also criticized the sheriff's department's efforts as "disruptive and counterproductive."

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said earlier this week that he had the people and the state law on his side regarding his ability to send teams to help with the homelessness crisis, which he described as a "humanitarian mission."

Villanueva said his hand was forced to respond to the crisis, but that he doesn't want to start a turf war. He also accused Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti of interfering with the Los Angeles Police Department's ability to take action regarding encampments.

"I'm not going to blame LAPD whatsoever,'' Villanueva said. "I think they can definitely do the job. They're more than capable, have good leadership. However, if they're hamstrung by politicians that don't want them to do their job, well, then they're left in a very, very bad situation.''

Villanueva said he would like the Venice Beach encampment to be cleared by the July 4 holiday.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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