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Homelessness

LAPD Investigates Bombs Left at Future Bridge Housing Project in Venice

11:36 AM PST on January 8, 2020

Update: The CD 11 Council Office wrote me to correct the timing of the opening of the bridge housing project in Venice. The site will complete construction later this month and could be open as soon as February.

Last Thursday evening, security for the bridge housing project under construction in Venice called the LAPD to investigate suspicious packages left on-site and near the property. After evacuating the area, including residents from nearby homes, the LAPD determined that the objects were bombs, or at the very least were intended to look as though they were bombs, but were so poorly crafted that they posed no threat to the community.

According to department spokesperson Joshua Rubenstein, the LAPD "does not know who or what was the motivation or target for planting these objects." However, given the timing and location of the attack, it strains credibility to suggest that placing the bombs at the bridge housing location was somehow just a coincidence.

On December 13, a superior court judge ruled against a challenge that would have stopped construction of the project. The litigants, a group of residents organized as the Venice Stakeholder's Associated (VSA) had raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars to fight the project, and it is doing so both in the court of law and in the court of public opinion.

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Screenshot from the private "Venice United" page on Facebook. The public Facebook page has not been updated since the bombs were placed.
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Following the ruling, NBC4 added fuel to the fire with its "Streets of Shame" series, which looks at how the regional homeless crisis impacts the already-housed. Rife with inflammatory language, the show's piece on Venice Boulevard declared area residents to be "under siege by [the] homeless."

The bombs were found at and near the construction site an hour and a half after the segment aired on the 4 p.m. news.

As Streetsblog has discussed before, the language used when discussing homelessness matters. People take their cues on proper responses based on what they hear, and describing the presence of unhoused people as an invasion or threat can have consequences.

As is often the case, social media has provided little reflection on what role the language used by opponents of bridge housing has had on people's actions. Instead of taking a moment to reflect, one of the leaders of the Venice Stakeholders Association even went so far as to claim that there were no bombs on the site, only "fax machines." This was apparently after hearing a news report that referred to the bombs as "facsimiles."

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Note: The woman to whom this comment was directed does not work for Mike Bonin or the CD 11 offices.
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But while opponents of the bridge housing program try to muddy the waters, the aforementioned Mike Bonin used social media to provide clarity of purpose in support of the project.

"As I stated earlier, if this was meant to slow or halt progress on providing bridge housing, it failed. It is imperative that we get people off the streets. We will not be intimidated, and we will not back down from providing solutions to our homelessness crisis," Bonin wrote.

Streetsblog has calls into the LAPD's communications team for updates and will continue to report on this story as it unfolds.

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