Saturday, April 16, 2016

An Open Letter to Officer Deon Joseph

Dear Officer Joseph,

You are probably aware of my efforts to help the homeless in Los Angeles already. It's been drawn to my attention that a couple of Facebook groups (run by George Palaziol) have been trying to defame or discredit me.

And I briefly glossed over the Saving San Pedro and Saving San Pedro Homeless Enablers groups. I was saddened by what I saw and I wrote about it in my blog post A Quick Look at Saving San Pedro, a Facebook Group W/ George Palaziol.

I defended your statements in that post.

But today, I was shocked to read the following post of yours which I assume is in response to the cease-and-desist letter issued to Councilman Joe Buscaino and founders of the Saving San Pedro Facebook group. Click to enlarge image:

Officer Deon Joseph calls cease and desist letter scare tactic in Saving San Pedro Facebook group
Screenshot of public post in Saving San Pedro Facebook Group April 16th, 2016

You see, my best friend is a police officer in Toronto, Canada. She's in a special forces division now. I went to school with her; I sincerely do understand the enormous pressures of your job.

And we also realize that laws have not caught up with what is direly needed to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Yes, we hold police officers to a higher moral standard. I feel the rest of the members of these Facebook groups and members of Los Angeles City Council are beyond reasoning with – but I'm hoping you are not.

Notably, your avatar on these posts (which I enlarged, below at right) shows you in uniform:

Officer Deon Joseph in uniform as shown in his avatar on Saving San Pedro Facebook group
It's widely known that police in New York were called out for "showing how compassionate they were by taking photos of homeless people and publicly shaming them online."

"This was not only condoned by the department, it was sanctioned and encouraged by high-ranking NYPD officials." Source: Disgusting: NYPD Ordered to Publicly Shame the Homeless by Taking Photos and Posting Online

Needless to say, it appears this is your focus as well. And I want to draw your attention to Legal Issues in Photographing People:

"Misappropriation of a Person's Identity: This tort involves the unauthorized use of another's name or likeness from which the user derives a benefit."

That benefit may be political or financial.

"Misappropriation of identity is generally available to persons who are not famous and have no well-known public image."

As you know, the cease-and-desist letter only cited that the Saving San Pedro Facebook group is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 14th amendment, and photographing minors.

But you need to be aware that the 20 members of this group (who accompanied you along Skid Row), taking photographs to post publicly, probably should have "obtained a proper model release" (which could include paying homeless people for use of their identities).

That is, if they agreed to be photographed in the first place. 

Yeah, not hard to figure out what is going on there.

You state: "You cannot take pictures where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Officer Joseph, the homeless have no privacy because they have no homes.

How good do you look without proper sleep after a few nights? Like a zombie, right? We ALL do.

What if you spent days or weeks without enough food or water and slept on the streets. Then, (since I find you so attractive), I offer you food if you will come back to my place "for a good time"?

How are people supposed to survive when they've been stripped of everything but a trash can worth of belongings?

What I really can't fathom is why you aren't actively trying to get the five jails reopened that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck admitted "were currently closed due to civilian staffing issues but within 36 months, he and mayor Garcetti would re-open"?

Isn't three years too long? And why aren't you concerned that legislation that reduced certain felonies to misdemeanors put thousands out on the streets instead of prison?

The homeless are being fed to the lions.

These homeless souls need your protection and I'm disheartened that you are encouraging more shaming of those who have been beaten down the most in our society.

Why aren't you, as a police officer, taking up these causes instead?

In my last petition update, I cited the fact that LA taxpayers paid more than $100 million to settle lawsuits against officers accused of civil rights violations, wrongful deaths, and other intradepartmental misconduct. Source: We Pay A Shocking Amount For Police Misconduct, And Cops Want Us Just To Accept It. We Shouldn't.

As stated in Nick Wing's article: 

"That is enough money for Los Angeles to match the entire amount it pays each year to cope with homelessness."

Society at large will no longer accept the focus of your policing strategy.

Come on, the mayor just announced that "... a full six months ahead of schedule. We're making targeted investments in our police force – my budget expands overtime for our officers by $10 million dollars ..." 

You won already, officer Joseph, you got your overtime pay – and six months in advance too.

Instead of confiscating and destroying the only possession of the homeless; needlessly shaming them for having to live in the streets and do whatever it takes to survive – why not 'serve and protect' them?

Finding loopholes in the current laws in California is not policing. It isn't upholding the spirit of the law, the Constitution, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Thank you for taking the time to read this,


For those of you who want to help defend human rights, please sign and share our petition: Curren Price: Reverse Your Order to Confiscate and Destroy "Tiny Homes" for LA's Homeless

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