Back to normal in Los Angeles

Remember Echo Park Lake? The one that got violently raided by cops and cleared of an impressive homeless commune that had been built there during the pandemic?

We went there on Friday evening with a friend. It had just opened up after being closed for two months for “repairs” following the raid. The place used to have an very laid back organic and anarchic vibe — people drinking beer and smoking pot and playing music on the lawns, street vendors selling food and trinkets and toys. It used to be wide open and could be accessed all night, no fences or barriers.

Now it’s been completely closed off with an ugly chain-linked fence that runs along the perimeter. Entrance is restricted to several narrow spots, which have police cruisers parked out front. While we were there, the place was constantly being patrolled by both the LAPD and park rangers. They were circling the lake on bikes, buggies, cruisers, pickup trucks, lights flashing, on the look out for tenters — anyone who looks like they might want to spend the night at the park.

This was Friday. The park used to lively and full of life. Now it’s been turned into a sterile secure facility. It feels like a police station. But the goal has been achieved: not a single refugee from neoliberalism in sight anywhere in the park. The homeless have all been scattered again to the toxic and dirty margins of society: onto streets, into gutters, next to freeways, under overpasses and onramps. The pandemic is over. It’s time to go back to normal in progressive, liberal Los Angeles!

—Yasha Levine