A houseless man was murdered on Venice Beach. There’s more that needs to be said about what’s happening there.
by Peggy Lee Kennedy
Mike Hall, a 49 year-old Venice local, was murdered on Dudley hill next to the Venice Boardwalk on June 25. He was previously living in a vehicle by Electric and Venice Blvd.. His RV got towed and he came to the boardwalk because he heard people were getting housing from there.
A man whose street-name is “Midget Mike,” who is short and not technically a dwarf, allegedly murdered Mike Hall because he was jealous and violent. The story is that he was abusing his girlfriend and Mike Hall was either protecting her and/or possibly hooking up with her.
According to the community, “Midget Mike” has assaulted people before, but because they were unhoused, the cops did nothing.
What is a deeply sick part of the story is how the mainstream news trucks came around the same time as Mark Ryadic, to capitalize and promote his anti-homeless agenda. This a person known for waging lawsuits to stop housing for the houseless in Venice, and the mainstream news loves him. In fact they happily interviewed Ryadic while Mike Hall’s grieving sister, Devon Thomas, was right there and clearly in shock.
The rumor is that I “harassed” the news media. But if telling them how awful that was, is being dishonestly described as harassment, then so be it. I could have verbally disrupted those heartless, disgusting interviews. But I did not.
A beautiful spontaneous prayer by other community people temporarily did disrupt them, but the news moved to get Ryadic without hearing those Amens to prayers asking god for housing.
Some shelter is being offered to tent dwellers on the Boardwalk primarily to remove them from a contested area, that is why Mike Hall was there. That is some hard truth that everyone needs to hear. He was there because he wanted housing.
I suspect that’s one reason so many new, clearly mentally ill people are appearing on the Venice Boardwalk. Some family member or some agency may hope they will get help.
The other option is that someone is adding to the visual negativity and that people with major mental illnesses are being dumped.
Oh, and now an army of Urban Alchemy employees have been added to march up and down the Boardwalk. The stated reason for this new large group on the boardwalk is having unarmed mental health providers, which simply does not match up with the fact that they do not appear to be connecting with the people who need help the most. All my “spidey senses” are saying that they are there to keep the area clear of tents once they are removed.
This pretty much tells a short story of how fucked up things are in Venice on the beach.
That is if you leave out the outrageous criminalization being dished out in citations by LAPD. Along with the Sheriff using crazy large numbers of deputies in tactical gear saying they are “homeless outreach”, when they have no jurisdiction and it’s a reelection campaign stunt for Sheriff Villanueva. It is sort of easy pickins for him to play to all the frustrated Venice Homeless Haters. And the LAPD is going along with it.
Not to mention the economic issues, gentrification and displacement creating homelessness and how the real solution of permanent housing is not being legitimately being addressed.
But, since you have read this far, lets deconstruct the issues a bit more.
Venice was once a racially and ethnically diverse working class and low-income area. Through a series of corrupt, illegal developments and some might argue intentional zoning changes and the FACE program, Federally-Assisted Code Enforcement, the area has been re-built primarily for affluent people. Although there are fluctuations in property values, the trend is always increasing.
Then there have been gang injunctions, nuisance laws used to take properties, and multi-agency law enforcement crack downs – all targeting the Black community of Venice in particular – drastically changing the demographics. Though we still have some strongholds of families that go back generations.
There have been houseless people in Venice my entire life. When I was a teenager and a young adult in the 70’s the difference between a homeowner, a renter, and a van dweller were not so big. Property was not that expensive.
Venice was a perfect place for free thinkers, strong community efforts, and free service providers. Those are reasons Venice has one of the largest free clinics in the country, the Venice Family Clinic; started by activist doctors as the Venice Free Clinic and now a major institution. I might describe it as unique.
Now Venice, California is known by activists around the world for the homeless hate.
With the terrible increase in homelessness and the COVID pandemic shelter in place, the beach in Venice came to an imperfect storm of up to 200 or so tent dwellers. Far less today with all fear from the Sheriff and the social service agencies putting some people in hotels, shelter, or Project Room Key this last week.
Even before the whole Sheriff fiasco, we had the LAPD ticketing people for the tents on a massive scale. The LAPD created a database of all the tent dwellers on the beach. It clearly was in preparation for something. The Venice Haters were getting mainstream media to constantly highlight any issue, and twist the narrative as much as possible towards danger, crime, violence. There are vigilante attacks on houseless people more than ever with all the hype, which is always lumped into how the houseless are at fault. The Haters are very emboldened and they are not safe to be near. The amount of vitriol is so insane, I keep saying they need a hate detox program.
One other thing is the disturbing influx of very inexpensive meth cut with fentanyl.
So the home-owner and business-owner pressure is high to get the tents out by any means. It’s already a powder keg. In preparation for clearing these folks off the beach, the city stepped up the outreach workers. There has been a constant march of St Joseph workers, LAHSA, DMH, and others.
The problem is clear. They do not have permanent low-income housing to offer. That is it right there. Low-income housing in Los Angeles, especially in Venice, has been destroyed and the main housing for people living with mental illness has all but collapsed. Shelters pretty much suck. That is, if there even is a bed available. But even if a person goes in a shelter, the chance of transitioning to permanent housing is very low. We do not have enough, even though there are more vacant dwellings and apartments than unhoused people, because market rate housing in unaffordable.
So all this is happening, and in comes Sheriff Villanueva to not save the day. If you think it’s fine using a whole bunch of deputies dressed up in tactical gear and calling them homeless outreach, go do the math. Spending that much money to take a handful of people to a shitty shelter is no accomplishment. No matter how nice they act, they are armed law enforcement with no business doing social services at a naked salary starting at $150,000 ranging up to $200,000 annually. It is a shameless use of funds by Villanueva to get re-elected.
Then do an internet search on the Los Angeles Sheriff Department (LASD) Gangs.
Finally, let’s mourn for the friends and family of Mike Hall. He wanted housing. That is why he moved on to the beach in Venice. His struggle is over. Ours must continue.
We need to fight for a better, more compassionate and equitable world in his honor.
Venice Justice Committee
P.O. Box 2881, Venice CA 90295