Jesse and Martha Farewell

On Saturday, April 14, we had a farewell party at Catch 21 Seafood Restaurant for Martha and Jesse, who have now retired from LACW community life. Martha spent 25 years with the community and Jesse spent 18 years with us.

It was a fun-filled party with a live band that played reggae (a band that semi-regularly plays there), and they received a memory photo album (made by Megan and Carol) of all their years at the LACW. We wish Martha and Jesse the best, we pray that Jesse’s health maintains, and that they enjoy many blessings and many years of happiness. We already miss them. We thank them for their many years of dedication and love. See photos HERE.

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2018 Catholic Worker Seder Of Liberation

On Sunday, April 8, we celebrated our 43rd annual Catholic Worker Seder of Liberation, again held at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena. It was a great success with 56 people in attendance. Everyone had a very enjoyable time. LACW Susan Dietrich was the MC, former LACW Rev. Elizabeth Griswold, her husband Rabbi Seth Castleman, and LACW Alexandria Addesso were our head table Hagaddah readers. Also at the table were Lilah and Abraham, Eliz and Seth’s children.

There were poignant personal stories of liberation shared, and at one point, Jeff presented Martha with a flower bouquet for her 25 years with the LACW and as a farewell gift for her and her husband Jesse, who are retiring from LACW community life. After the Seder we enjoyed a delicious meal with plenty of food and tasty desserts.

We thank all who attended. If you did not attend, we suggest that you plan ahead for next year (the Sunday after Easter). Guaranteed you will not regret it. See photos HERE.

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A Short Documentary On The Homeless and Housing Crises In Los Angeles

The below informative 14 minute video was filmed and edited by John Dentino, one of our volunteers at the Hippie Kitchen. It deals with LACW Kaleb Havens recent 46 day hunger and housing strike chained to a fence on Skid Row, our work at the LACW, and most importantly, with the homeless and housing crises here in Los Angeles.

We thank John for this excellent educational video, and the time he spends with us at the Hippie Kitchen.

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April 2018 Agitator

Here is the APRIL Catholic Agitator

In This Issue:

      • Starving For Justice by Kaleb Havens
      • Lament, Repent, Repair: An Open Letter On Racism by Midwest Catholic Workers
      • Book Review: Just Call Me Jerzy by Mike Wisniewski
      • Los Angeles: U.S. Capitol Of Homelessness by Susan Dietrich
      • Challenging The Acceptance Of The Police by Matt Harper
      • Starvation Increases Worldwide by Jessica Corbett
      • Better Know a Volunteer by Sarah Fuller and Theo Kayser

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2018 Good Friday Anti-War Stations Of The Cross

On Friday, March 30, about 70 people gathered at the Roybal Federal Building in downtown to walk and meditate on the Anti-War Stations of the Cross. The weather was perfect for our annual walk to places of darkness in the downtown area.

This year Matt Harper and Susan Dietrich took over the duties of putting together a succinct and meaningful script, and we had two very articulate readers–Alex Addesso and Donald Nollar. This year we also remembered our own Kaleb Havens, who was nearing the end of his 46 day hunger and housing strike chained to a fence on Skid Row. We carried a huge poster of Kaleb throughout the walk. After the event we stopped to visit with Kaleb and had a prayer reflection and song, then we eagerly went home to enjoy a Mexican banquet, everything cooked by our house guest Maria. Muchas Gracias, Maria!

A big THANK YOU to all who participated. See you again next year, and invite others to join us. See photos HERE and a PDF of the script HERE.

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Kaleb Ends His Hunger and Housing Strike

On Easter Sunday, at 9:45am, about 60 people gathered to celebrate with Kaleb as he unchained himself from the fence, then led a prayer service that included chanting, a reading by Kaleb, an introduction song to Psalm 23 by Tyson, one of our kitchen guests, Skid Row Pastor Cue then gave an inspirational reading of Psalm 23. Kaleb led the reciting of The Lord’s Prayer, then General Dogan (LA CAN) read an excellent article he wrote entitled “STAND UP FOR WHAT?” using former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s bold act of “taking a knee” during the National Anthem as a bases to address the police violence against Black people, systemic racism present in our society, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the struggle for dignity by the sisters and brothers living on the street.

There was a time to reflect on the more than 830 people who died on Skid Row last year and the lack of concern by city and county officials to provide housing available in the 156 vacant buildings on Skid Row. There was a time to call out names of those who have gone before us, and the response of PRESENTE! after each name was voiced.

(NOTE: The above photo was taken after our annual Anti-War Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We stopped and showed Kaleb the poster made for the event, then had a prayer and song, leaving the cross with Kaleb.)

Then the call to celebrate. Kaleb took the chain that secured him to the fence and used it to chain the chair he used while fasting to the fence, and announced that it will be there if anyone else wanted to use it. Kaleb then led a procession to Catch 21, the restaurant across the street from where he spent the last 46 days, and was greeted with a Modelo Especial (pilsner-style lager beer), then a big plate of fish and chips. However, before delving into the food, he announced he wanted to use the restroom, which he did not use for 46 days.

Everyone present for the unchaining was invited to the celebration at Catch 21, where the party continued for a few hours. Kaleb is now back home at the LACW. He enjoyed a hot shower, the specially prepared Easter dinner, and later sleeping on his bed. See photos HERE.

We thank Kaleb for his witness and his commitment to the housing crisis on Skid Row (and beyond). We pray for wisdom and strength to continue the struggle.

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Day 43 – Lenten Hunger Strike Raises Profile of Los Angeles Homeless Crisis

There are two more media outlets that have run good stories on Kaleb and the homeless and housing crises. See this LINK and this LINK.

An excerpt: “As a homelessness crisis escalates in both Los Angeles County and neighboring Orange County, California, members of Catholic Worker communities have taken action to encourage local governments and churches to respond with constructive solutions rather than criminalizing or ignoring those in need of housing.

‘I want Christians to really think about the homelessness problem in their area and if they are truly fulfilling the core of Christ’s message, which is to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ said Los Angeles Catholic Worker Kaleb Havens.”

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Day 37 – Fasting On Skid Row

Kaleb is still hanging in there, doing okay, though a bit wet from the rain and tired. He is looking forward to Easter Sunday morning when he will unchain himself from the fence, attend an Easter service on the street, then delve into a fish dinner and a Modelo from Catch 21 restaurant, one of his favorite eateries, which happens to be right across the street from where has chained himself to a fence.

The Angelus, newspaper for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has a good article about Kaleb at this LINK.

An excerpt: “In a lower voice, Havens said, ‘That’s what I’m wondering. I’m prepared to go to jail if they want to cut me loose and drag me away. You know, if that’s how they play it. But I’ll be here unless they use the Jaws of Life to cut this chain.’

Havens, 30, has been chained to the fence since Ash Wednesday, when he started his water-only fast, supplemented with electrolytes and broth from chicken bones.

The overall goal of his hunger strike is to raise awareness of the horrible homelessness on skid row, which takes in 50 blocks of the City of the Angels. More specifically, the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, Inner City Law Center, LA CAN (Los Angeles Community Action Network) and other agencies have formed a coalition, Skid Row Now & 2040, to advocate for the rights of the skid row homeless before the City Planning Department.”

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2018 Good Friday Anti-War Stations of the Cross/Seder of Liberation

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Day 28 – Kaleb Is Still hanging In There

Kaleb was doing okay this afternoon. He was preparing for a group of students from Denver to visit and interview him.

He was also notified that the Sanitation Department would be sweeping the block tomorrow, which is highly unusual since the regular sweep day for 5th Street is Monday, as it was last week. It is suspected that this is yet another ploy by the city and LAPD to turn his neighbors against him. However, Kaleb organized a group of supporters to again sweep the block by hand if the city clears everyone and does not sweep, as they did last week.

If you have yet to see the video Kaleb filmed last Wednesday of the horrifying, rotten, and despicable treatment by LAPD against one of his female neighbors, it is a MUST see. You can view it HERE.

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LACW Mike Wisniewski Risks Arrest At U.S. Representative’s Office

On Tuesday, March 6, LACW community member Mike Wisniewski joined 10 others in a nonviolent direct action at Republican U.S. Representative Steve Knight’s office in Santa Clarita, in the northeastern part of Los Angeles County. The nonviolent action was sponsored by L.A. Voice–Pico and CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), and was a protest against U.S. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — aka “Dreamers”), TPS (Temporary Protected Status) immigration policies, border militarization, and the current policy of separating families who are held in detention centers.

More than one hundred people gathered outside Rep. Knight’s office while the 11 who were risking arrest went inside through a back door to his second floor office and remained in the hallway singing songs, chanting, and praying, since we were denied entrance into the office itself. We remained in the hallway for more than an hour before Rep. Knight personally called one of the organizers from his Washington office (his local staff asked for someone’s cell phone number). The conversation was put on speaker and recorded. The discussion revolved around our demand for his commitment for “Clean” DACA Legislation, ending deportation of and protecting TPS recipients, and reduce funding for the militarization of the border, and immediately end separating children from parents already in border detention facilities.

The representative agreed to meet with the organizers and talk about the issues, stipulating however, that the meeting does not necessarily mean agreeing on the issues. He also clearly stated that he would not discuss defunding the border patrol and de-militarization of the border area because he firmly believes more funding and personnel is needed to stop the flow of drugs coming into the U.S.

As a result of Rep. Knight personally calling the delegation and agreeing to a meeting, the majority of the civil disobedience delegation agreed to leave without arrest, but plan to return at a date in the not too distant future.

See videos of action HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Arrests Of Skid Row Homeless Increases In 2017

On Tuesday, March 6, day 20 of Kaleb’s hunger strike, Councilman Jose Huizar came to Skid Row to visit Kaleb and talk with him about the homeless crisis. He told Kaleb that he would like for him to attend City Council Meetings and voice his support for initiatives that Huizar wants to implement (including in Skid Row) to ease the crisis, and he asked Kaleb to consider ending his hunger strike. Since Councilman Huizar would not commit to meeting the demand of the Skid Row community’s counter to the city’s DTLA 2040 plan, nor convert and use the 150 vacant buildings on Skid Row to house the homeless, Kaleb declined.

Also, this LINK is to an article in today’s L.A. Times that reveals that in 2017, LAPD made more than 14,500 arrests of homeless people, a ten percent increase over the previous year.

An excerpt:Los Angeles police on Tuesday defended stepped-up enforcement against the city’s exploding homeless population, saying that despite officials’ anti-criminalization stance and adoption of alternative strategies, arrests and citations are needed to meet the crisis.

‘As a last resort, a tool, one tool of many tools, we turn to enforcement,’ Cmdr. Dominic H. Choi, the LAPD’s homelessness coordinator, told the Police Commission during a discussion of the department’s year-end homelessness report. ‘We have to have a balanced approach.’

The report said LAPD officers made 14,500 misdemeanor arrests of homeless people in 2017, a 10% jump from the year before. It attributed the increase in part to crackdowns on “quality of life” violations barring sleeping and storing personal property on sidewalks. Trespassing and nonviolent drug possession arrests also rose, the report said.”

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