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Mayor Shut Down: Shouting Housing Activists Force Garcetti to Cut Short Speech at USC

Courtesy of NOlympicsLA/Via Twitter.

[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]omeless advocates and other demonstrators forced L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to halt a speech on Monday at USC, shouting at him and criticizing his approach to the city’s housing and homelessness crisis and other issues.

Garcetti was forced to end his speech just 20 minutes in, and then walked off the stage and out of the auditorium. The protest was organized by several groups, including the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, NOlympics LA, and Los Angeles Catholic Worker.

Garcetti planned to deliver the keynote speech at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to an audience of about 350 people at the Bovard Auditorium when the demonstrators began shouting at him. The UN declaration was inaugurated on Dec. 10, 1948.

“This was almost making a mockery of the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Hamid Khan, organizer for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, told L.A. Taco. “As residents of Los Angeles it was our duty to bring in the reality from the street.”

“When you look at the criminalization of poverty, homelessness and failure to invest in life affirming programs, when you look at the level of policing and police violence, it was necessary to lay bare these things in a public forum,” Khan said.

As he spoke, protesters stood up in the audience and criticized Garcetti on housing, gentrification, and the 2028 Olympics, as well as homelessness.

[dropcap size=big]G[/dropcap]arcetti tried to respond each of the protester’s complaints and move on, but each time, another person stood up and lobbed a new criticism at the mayor. At one point, many in the audience applauded in an apparent show of support for the mayor. Minutes into his speech, however, Garcetti stopped his speech and left the auditorium. Some attendees gave him a standing ovation as he exited.

Garcetti has been facing tough audiences or demonstrators who employ direct-action to get their points across. In October in the beach neighborhood of Venice, activists jeered at the mayor at a town hall meeting over a proposed 154-bed homeless shelter.

Last year in December, at an event in Skid Row, General Dogon, a homeless man and advocate ripped up an award he received saying, “This award is just like the mayor and his cronies: it’s worthless,” said Dogon, an organizer with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), as he tore a commendation from Garcetti in half.

The mayor, who was re-elected in March 2017 virtually unopposed with more than 80 percent of the vote, has not officially declared he is running for U.S. President. But he’s already traveled to early primary states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, spending 112 days traveling outside California during the 12 months from September 2016 and September 2017, a third of his time not attending to the city’s business.

RELATED: Downtown Development Is Pushing Homeless Encampments and RVs Into Residential Streets of South Central

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