LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A woman with a knife was taken into custody Monday morning following an altercation on the Venice Boardwalk that occurred during a news conference being held by Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino on the issue of homelessness.
Video from the scene showed Los Angeles police putting a woman, believed to be homeless, in handcuffs on Ocean Front Walk sometime before 7:30 a.m. Police told CBSLA that an officer suffered a minor injury.
So @JoeBuscaino is gone. He was quickly hustled out after security spotted an unhoused person standing behind Buscaino with a knife. She said it was for protection and to cut fruit. She was quickly detained by @lapd pic.twitter.com/7nIqJGCdOg
— Benjamin Oreskes🦅 (@boreskes) June 7, 2021
The exact circumstances of the incident were not confirmed, but authorities said the unnamed woman was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
“She lives in a tent in front of my building,” Patrick Liberty, owner of Venice Liberty, said. “She’s a known trouble maker.”
“I did see the council member being escorted, jumping over the fence with a bunch of his security detail,” Shawn Stern, a Venice resident, said.
Busciano was holding a news conference to announce a new plan to address the homeless crisis in L.A. The Venice neighborhood has seen a drastic spike in its homeless population in recent months.
Buscaino said his “Safer Streets in L.A.” plan consists of eliminating the L.A. Homelessness Services Authority and making it easier for developers to build new housing. His plan would also ban homeless encampments in parks, beaches and on sidewalks.
Buscaino released the following statement in response to the incident:
“I am grateful for my safety, the safety of the public, and the quick action of the Los Angeles Police Department. This is exactly why I was in Venice Beach today, charting a new course for our city, and I am convinced now, more than ever, that bold action is needed to make our city safer for everyone, regardless of housing status.”
The woman was ultimately charged with a misdemeanor and was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in court in October.
The incident came just one day after video showing a man punch an elderly performer was posted to social media. Longtime residents said it was just the latest example of how unsafe the Venice boardwalk has become as the number of unhoused residents grows. Residents also said that officials were not doing enough to address the issue.
“As long as you have mental health and drug addiction and you’re not acknowledging it and treating it and coming up with a plan for it, this is going to continue,” Stern said.
“It’s not good for these folks either, man,” Liberty said. “They need to be in a clean, safe place where they have hot water and a place to go to the bathroom in the morning that’s not just out on the beach, a little bit of dignity to their life.”
Alfie Jones, who was living on the streets of Venice three years ago, is now a Safe Place for Youth coordinator. Jones, who credited his recovery to a county employee putting him into a detox program, said it’s important for services like that to be available when people are ready.
“You can’t give give them, ‘OK, we’ll be back next week to see if you feel the same,’ because drugs keep you mentally imbalanced anyway, so if you’ve got a person that’s willing to go that day, take them that day,” he said.
As for the neighborhood’s longtime residents, they said they were beyond frustrated by the situation and are now asking for more help from city, state and federal officials.