November 13, 2019

USA: A Bucket of Hot Diarrhea Was Poured on a Woman by a Homeless Man In Hollywood. San Francisco Dist Attorney Will Not Prosecute Public Urination, Public Camping, Blocking Sidewalks.

NBC4, I-team
written by Joel Grover and Amy Corral
Monday November 11, 2019

A night near the Hollywood Walk of Fame would change a woman's life, as she was getting into her car and a homeless man sprinted across Hollywood Boulevard toward her.

Heidi Van Tassel was parked in Hollywood after having a pleasant evening out with friends at an authentic Thai restaurant. Suddenly a man randomly pulled her out of the car, dragged her out to the middle of the street, and dumped a bucket of feces on her head, Van Tassel said and public records confirm.

Arrests of Homeless People in Central LA Region

Data compiled from the Los Angeles Police Department shows the amount of arrests of homeless people in the central area of Los Angeles, and the increase in violent crime specifically, from 2017 to 2019. Data was available through September of 2019. (click article to look at graph)

"It was diarrhea. Hot liquid. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes," Van Tassel said. "Paramedics who came to treat me said there was so much of it on me, that it looked like the man was saving it up for a month."

Van Tassel was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after the grotesque attack, where she was tested for infectious diseases caused by contact with feces. She'll need to be retested every three months.

"It was all inside my car because it was so much. He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me," she said.

She said the Los Angeles Police Department told her they'd investigate the crime, but her phone calls to the department went unanswered.

Van Tassel said the police also promised to have their victims' advocate reach out to her to offer services. She said she never got a call.

"It's so traumatic. The PTSD that I'm dealing with is beyond anything that I've ever felt," Van Tassel said. "There needs to be some kind of help for the victims of these crimes."

The man who attacked her, identified in court records as Jere Blessings, was charged with battery and taken to jail. Blessings was described as a transient with "schizophrenia and psychotic disorders," records show.

"He doesn't need jail time. He needs mental health care," Van Tassel said. "I have empathy for him. Because he needs help."

Jere Blessings got help, but only for two months. He was sent by a judge to a residential facility for people with mental health issues, and released in August.

Security footage from businesses nearby captured the attack, and bodycam captured the aftermath as officers responded, but the LAPD and businesses would not release the footage, even when Van Tassel asked to see it.

"It was awful," Van Tassel said through tears. "And it changed my life."

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office said Blessings is now back in the community, which worries Van Tassel.

"I will never, ever, forget his face," Van Tassel said. "What’s the next thing he’s going to do somebody? If he would’ve had a knife, for sure he would’ve stabbed me."
NBC, I-team
written by By Joel Grover and Amy Corral
June 6, 2019

After facing international headlines about LA's out-of-control garbage and rodent problem, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday unveiled steps to clean up trash-filled streets.

And the mayor put the blame for piles of waste left on city streets, on unnamed businesses that he says dump trash to avoid disposal fees.

"We will not tolerate businesses that use our public streets, our spaces, our alleyways, as their private dumping ground," Garcetti said from a podium on Ceres Avenue.

Ceres Avenue has become an international embarrassment for the mayor, after the NBC4 I-Team last month exposed how the city allowed trash to pile up eight feet high and a block long for months, even when citizens complained to 311.

The I-Team's stories went viral worldwide.

Garcetti Thursday stood on a cleaned up Ceres Avenue, with a city sanitation truck positioned behind him, to discuss steps the city will now take to crackdown on businesses that he says illegally dump their waste on LA’s streets. New efforts will include posting surveillance cameras to catch the lawbreakers, deploying undercover sanitation officers to spot them, and pursuing prosecution.

But some politicians and downtown residents say the Mayor is avoiding the real issue: the hundreds of homeless encampments across LA that generate most of the trashy piles that are breeding grounds for disease-carrying rodents. On Tuesday, a survey released by officials showed a 16% increase in the city's homeless population.

"The bulk of the trash stems from these encampments throughout the city," LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino told NBC4.

Buscaino worked the streets of LA as an LAPD officer for 15 years, often interacting with the homeless.

"I feel that homeless encampments are a major source of trash and rat infestation and I know that based on my experience working the streets of Los Angeles for many years," the councilman said.

Buscaino has proposed a solution to the trash problem: have the city hire homeless people to clean up litter on the streets. He introduced a motion in the city council to create a pilot program back in 2017, but the city has yet to fund it.
San Francisco Chronicle
written by Phil Matier
October 27, 2019

One of the biggest questions in the San Francsico district attorney race is how candidates plan to handle “quality-of-life” crimes like vehicle break-ins, public intoxication, drug dealing, petty theft and graffiti.

Here’s how the four candidates responded to an American Civil Liberties Union questionnaire on the issue.

• Chesa Boudin: “We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes. Crimes such as public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, blocking a sidewalk, etc., should not and will not be prosecuted. Many of these crimes are still being prosecuted, we have a long way to go to decriminalize poverty and homelessness.”

• Suzy Loftus: “Past practices of an over-reliance on citations are costly, redirect vital resources away from significant crimes and disproportionately impact working class, juvenile, immigrant, and indigent populations. Over-reliance on charging quality-of-life infractions has not proven effective at deterring aberrant behaviors. I will prioritize taking a problem solving-approach to quality of life concerns that engages our city partners and community based organizations to more effectively remedy neighborhood concerns.

• Leif Dautch: “While no one should ever be prosecuted for a status offense or simply because of their poverty, quality-of-life offenses like car break-ins sometimes require prosecution. ... So I make a point at our house parties and campaign events of telling people who are understandably concerned about quality-of-life issues in our city that accountability for those offenses does not mean targeting the homeless, which would be both ineffective and morally problematic.”

• Nancy Tung: “I will not eliminate prosecution for these offenses. I believe that these crimes are an opportunity for intervention, to get a person services, job training or other opportunities as a pathway out of the criminal justice system. Diversions are indeed a tool of a prosecution, as are deferred prosecutions. At the same time, I do not believe we should sacrifice some of our most vulnerable communities by allowing quality-of-Life crimes to persist unchecked.”
UPDATE 11/13/19 at 6:57pm: Related info
UPDATE 11/13/19 at 7:35pm: Added tweet

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