[Hpn] Homeless Convention planned during DNC's - LA Dome City to host activists activists

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 15 May 2000 18:51:49 -0700 (PDT)

See Also: http://domevillage.org
          Dome Village, Justiceville, USA [Los angeles, CA, USA]  
     For INFORMATION email Ted Hayes at HOMELESS@AOL.COM or
     phone 213 892 9011

FWD  Los Angeles Times / Monday, May 15, 2000

 LOOK AHEAD * At a site near the massive gathering of Democrats in Los Angeles
 this summer . . .


 By CARLA RIVERA, Times Staff Writer

      As delegates to the Democratic National Convention wine, dine and
anoint a presidential candidate at Staples Center this summer, a
gathering of a different sort will unfold a few blocks away--designed to
highlight the stark divide separating America's rich and poor.

Its organizers call it the Los Angeles National Homeless Convention,
and at a news conference scheduled for today they will announce plans to
bring together thousands of homeless activists at the Dome Village, a
tiny enclave of homeless people that is within jogging distance of
virtually all of the Democratic convention happenings in downtown Los

The counter-convention is the brainchild of activist Ted Hayes, who
sees the Democratic presidential nomination--and its attendant media
glare--as a perfect opportunity to spotlight issues affecting the most
destitute Americans.

And it is especially apt in Los Angeles, believes Hayes, because the
area has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation--about
80,000 people on any given night, experts say.

Hayes and his supporters say they also want to prevent police sweeps
of street people who frequent the alleys, entryways and freeway
underpasses surrounding Staples Center.

By inviting homeless people from across the country to come to Los
Angeles for their own confab in August, they are daring Democratic
National Committee organizers and police to try to move them somewhere
out of sight--a practice Hayes claims is widespread when high-profile
events come to town.

"Cities around the nation selectively enforce laws against people who
are living in the United States," Hayes said. "Until we find a way to get
American homeless permanently off the streets, all talk about politics is

City officials insist there are no plans to conduct sweeps or
otherwise roust the homeless during the Democratic convention.

"The police are not taking any extraordinary measures in dealing with
homeless people in and around the convention site, nor are they engaging
in sweeps," said Frank Martinez, Mayor Richard Riordan's liaison for the
Democrats. "If a homeless person or anyone else comes to the attention of
authorities by way of a police call, they will respond and deal with it
as it dictates."

Martinez said the DNC is in talks with Hayes about the homeless
convention and "as long as they are engaged in lawful protest, we hope to
work with them to avoid any potential problems."

Hayes stressed that his group is pushing for peaceful, nonviolent
dialogue and that Los Angeles homeless activists do not want the kind of
chaos visited on Seattle and Washington, D.C., during recent economic
summits to detract from their cause.

Planning for the homeless convention is centered at something known as
the cyberdome, one of the Dome Village structures that has been fitted
with 10 donated computers, faxes, printers and other equipment.

Organization of the event is still in the early stages, but it would
run Aug. 14-17 and would include panels on law enforcement and adoption
of a national homeless plan.

The framework calls for ending arrests of homeless people and
providing adequate jobs, housing and health care within 10 years.
Concerts are planned, and each day's events would end with a candlelight
vigil on the sidewalks surrounding Staples Center and the Convention

For those familiar with Hayes--a tall, wiry man who once ran for mayor
and has a flair for dramatic pronouncements--the idea of a
counter-convention is not surprising. He created the Dome Village--a
collection of 18 fiberglass, igloo-shaped structures--seven years ago as
an experiment in self-help.

The formerly barren lot near the Harbor Freeway and 9th Street now
provides transitional shelter for up to two dozen homeless men and women
amid vegetable and herb gardens, flower beds and fruit trees. It has been
visited by national and international dignitaries, including Britain's
Prince Edward.

The homeless organizers are working to win support from local social
rights groups, universities and celebrities. They have secured an
appearance by Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and hope to
attract other candidates.

Michael Feinstein, a Santa Monica city councilman who co-founded the
California Green Party, said Hayes' plan is an opportunity to focus
attention on the need for a coordinated effort to tackle homelessness
issues. Feinstein also represents the Greens in a coalition of social
activists--many of the same people who showed up in Seattle and
Washington--that has been planning protests at the Democratic convention.

They see the Dome Village as an ideal staging area.

"The fact that they're close makes it a natural place to start out
from," said Feinstein. "From Ted's angle, if activists are going to be
staging from his area, they need to have some understanding about the
issues he is raising, and I think that's a valid point. This is an
opportunity for people from various groups to connect on an intellectual

Another supporter is Celes King, the longtime head of the Los Angeles
office of the Congress of Racial Equality, who sees the convention as an
opportunity to spotlight the plight of homeless veterans. A member of the
Los Angeles County Advisory Commission for Veterans, he is working to
organize hundreds of homeless vets and veterans organizations to

The homeless convention already has its own Web site
and is soliciting volunteers and donations.
Supporters are forming a nonprofit group so that it will be tax-exempt.

"We need supplies, portable restrooms, public address systems,
transportation," said Alden Moore, a homeless man who moved into the
village three weeks ago and is helping to coordinate volunteers.

People who don't want to participate can write letters to President
Clinton and the presidential candidates, said Thomas Flores, a fellow at
the Center for California Cultural and Social Issues at Pitzer College,
who is volunteering his time.

"We want to show that people are aware and concerned about this
problem, and want something to be done about it," Flores said.


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