OAKLAND, CA – A 54-year-old man, who was reported as being a local vagrant, was arrested earlier in June for allegedly assaulting Governor Gavin Newsom while he was visiting downtown Oakland in an effort to promote small businesses in the area.
The incident comes during a time where California is dealing with concerning levels of homelessness that officials are working to address and remedy.
— Ross Gerber (@GerberKawasaki) June 19, 2021
On June 17th, Governor Gavin Newsom was walking down the 700 block of Washington Street in Oakland, making his way over to local businesses such as Beastmode Barbershop and Graffiti Pizza in an effort to promote small businesses.
While walking down the sidewalk, a 54-year-old “aggressive individual” was said to have thrown a water bottle at the governor. A statement provided by the CHP noted the following about the encounter:
“This morning, the Governor was approached by an aggressive individual. Members of the Governor’s security detail removed the Governor from the situation and the individual was arrested by CHP officers.”
The 54-year-old male, who was not identified by name by officials as of this writing, was said to have been booked into the Santa Rita Jail under suspicion of resisting an executive officer and assaulting a public official.
Governor Newsom was reportedly not injured during the episode and was even cited as playing off the incident to nearby reports by suggesting that some people have just have different ways of saying “hello”.
Bail for the unnamed suspect was reportedly set at $35,000 and has an arraignment scheduled for June 21st at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
According to a report on the incident from NBC News, a woman who claimed to be the suspect’s sister described the assailant as a homeless man who has a history of mental illness. This woman claiming to be the suspect’s sister also said that the allegations lodged against her brother are “consistent with his past behavior.”
This alleged assault comes roughly one month after Governor Newsom revealed a plan to allocate $12 billion to combat homelessness within California.
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) May 12, 2021
In a statement released from the Governor Newsom’s officer on May 11th, this $12 billion will reportedly come from the $100 billion plan known as the “California Comeback Plan”:
“Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the second challenge his $100 billion California Comeback Plan will confront – homelessness. Governor Newsom’s $12 billion plan to tackle the issue of homelessness will be the largest investment of its kind in California history. This investment will provide 65,000 people with housing placements, more than 300,000 people with housing stability and create 46,000 new housing units.”
Governor Newsom at the time referenced the previous success of Project Homekey, which that effort saw the likes of hotels being purchased by the state so that they could be converted into housing for those experiencing homelessness:
“Within a year, Homekey did more to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis than anything that’s been done in decades and became a national model. Now is the time to double down on these successful efforts.”
“The California Comeback Plan invests a historic $12 billion to expand these successful programs and seeks to end family homelessness within five years. That’s the idea behind the Comeback Plan’s homelessness investments – more, faster and with accountability and efficiency stitched into the fabric of these new investments.”
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In other news regarding homelessness in California, we at Law Enforcement Today reported earlier in June that a pedestrian tunnel located in the Los Feliz area of L.A. has reportedly been overtaken by the local homeless population.
Here’s that previous report.
LOS FELIZ, CA – Los Feliz, Los Angeles is the home to an underground pedestrian walkway that has now been overtaken by homeless people, and the residents are urging the city officials to shut it down and fill it in.
The tunnel, which is packed with homeless residents and their belongings is located under the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and New Hampshire Street, and just steps away from Los Feliz Elementary School.
Parents and children, who now rely on a crossing guard to cross the busy boulevard feel this has become a safety issue.
— Brandi Hitt (@ABC7Brandi) June 8, 2021
Senior lead Officer Lenny Davis of the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement:
“We’ve had reports of narcotics being made down below, people actually trying to cook inside the tunnel, trying to heat during the cold time with open flames, so it definitely became a safety issue,”
Davis says the city has tried countless times to secure the 70-year-old tunnel, but people cut the locks or slide through the chain link fencing that surrounds both of the tunnel’s entrances.
The homeless have essentially turned this into an apartment complex. There is reportedly even an electrical cord that stretches from a homeless encampment near the south entrance, down the stairs and to a power source inside the tunnel. This poses an obvious fire threat as well.
ABC7 reported that Carlos Sarmiento has been living in the tunnel for nearly eight months and gave an Eyewitness News producer a tour of his underground accommodations. The subterranean walkway sports a bed, a sofa, a flat screen television and makeshift walls with lighting overhead.
“I’m looking for a job,”
“I don’t want to be here forever because I want to change my life. I want to go get something different.”
Davis has stated that some members of the L.A. City Council, along with residents in the community want the tunnel permanently closed and filled in with concrete so the homeless are not able to gain entry again.
Underground pedestrian tunnel in Los Feliz taken over by homeless https://t.co/wE7CcRvgQw
— Guardian_Elite (@Guardian_Elite) June 9, 2021
Milagro Jones, who used to be homeless himself, said:
“They’ll make that inaccessible to the homeless instead of solving the actual problem, which is giving them housing,”
He and his daughter were homeless for a stretch, living on Skid Row and in shelters. Jones says L.A. has to step up its efforts to build places for the unhoused to live before rousting them from their current spots.
He told Eyewitness News:
“The people who are homeless right here are not homeless by their own choice,”
He went on to say:
“They’re homeless because the city of Los Angeles has not made resources available to them to be housed.”
ABC7 reported that the tunnel is just a block west of another encampment at Berendo Street. Many residents there have been trying for months to get the city to clear it out. There has been substantial progress, with the city finding housing for most of the people who had been living there.
Sara Wilson, who has lived on that block of Berendo for more than two years, said:
“He’s also just a young man,”
“He and his partner live here and they have kids that are thankfully with family right now, but they’re just a young couple trying to do their best.”
Davis says more community outreach is needed throughout the city and suggests neighbors band together to find ways to fix the homelessness problems where they live.
“The solution’s got to come from the community,”
He went on to say:
“It’s not going to fall on one agency or one department. It’s going to take a village.”
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