Sunday, December 22, 2013

Statement from Monday Night Mission Founder Mel Tillekeratne

By Mel Tillekeratne

Dear Residents of Hollywood and West Hollywood,

Yes we understand. We really do!

Nobody wants to see someone’s piss on their wall. Worst yet nobody wants to see human feces or needles on their lawn. So don’t get me wrong. Yes, we here at Monday Night Mission do sympathize with what you have to face every day. 

We’re not just saying we sympathize not knowing what you’re going through. Some of us see what you see quite a lot. Some of us like me live in downtown LA and see much worse!

Our members see worse by visiting Skid-row. See we go to Skid-row every week night. It’s literally impossible not step on piss when you’re on Skid-row. For every needle you see, we see 10. For every homeless person you see, we see dozens!

I know some of you have said that the homeless people in your area should go to Skid-row or downtown LA. You might have heard that there’s a lot shelters and services there. Someone might have told you that if you’re homeless you can just go to Skid-row and get a bed. They might have even told you that no one goes hungry on Skid-row as there’s plenty of food.

Let me tell you something. That’s Bullshit!

I have been to Skid-row over 250 nights this year. I know a bit more about Skid-row than most of these people who are making decisions for its people. Yes there are shelters. But these shelters are so overcrowded and dirty that most regular Angelenos wouldn’t even walk close to them let alone walk inside.

The last shelter to leave its doors open is the Midnight Mission. That’s if you’re lucky to get there in time to sleep in their courtyard. I’m talking about around 60 people crammed into a space the size of a 2 bedroom apartment. Yes there’s a little more space on the street but trust me you want to be in that courtyard when darkness falls than the street.

People get beaten regularly!

Some nights it’s heartbreaking to see some of our regulars sporting cuts and black eyes. Some nights we see them get beaten. Some of these people are some of the gentlest people I know. Some really old! But that doesn’t matter on Skid-row.

In November Kira came up to me. She didn’t want food. She just wanted to cry. Cry, cry and cry some more. Why?

Kira was raped that night. Tell you the truth I didn’t even tell her to call the cops. Women who get raped on Skid-row can’t call the cops. When you don’t have doors and locks to hide behind, you can’t call 911 because you will end up dead the next morning if you do!

Can you blame these people for wanting to be in your neighborhood when the only other place they have left to go is Skid-row?

If you don’t believe me you’re welcome to come see Skid-row with us anytime.

We know and understand the issues you have. But bringing an ordinance to ban street feeding is not the way to go. Actually it’s the worst possible. What we need to do is work on a real solution. Not try to shove the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition into a parking lot or an indoor facility.

We need more facilities for our homeless population. I mean living facilities not just indoor dining halls. We know you have suggested a different location for the GWHFC. But to suggest that certain people don’t have a right or deserve to live in a particular area is wrong!

Los Angeles is a city of minorities. Some of whom who came here to flee oppression. For a better life and for rights just like everyone else.

How can we be a haven for the oppressed and then suddenly become the oppressor?

This city has a history of working hard to confine our homeless population and mentally ill into Skid-row.

I searched a name in Wikipedia. The answer I got was:

“Use of the word "concentration" came from the idea of using documents confining to one place a group of people who are in some way undesirable.”

The name I used in Wikipedia search was “Concentration camp”…….....

This motion 13-1238 would target the homeless the same way ethnic groups have been singled out for genocide based on common traits.

It isn’t enough that you not support this motion. You need to speak out against it!

I don’t think the people behind this motion fully knew what they were doing. I don’t think they understood the implications either and some are already backing out of it. But there are others who are silently waiting and watching.

Waiting to see your reaction to pursue more bans and laws that would rid this city of its 58,000 homeless population. All in the pursuit of political power and money.

This is why it is so important that you speak out!

Otherwise Hollywood and West Hollywood will go down in history as the start of LA’s homeless purge.

Being tolerant of the existence of your homeless neighbors might truly mean their chance at survival.

I hope you do the right thing!

Mel Tillekeratne
Founder and Leader,
Monday Night Mission

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

- Mother Teresa

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