The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday directed several city departments to compile recommendations to strengthen oversight and respond to street harassment on transit systems and public spaces in the city.
The motion — introduced by Council President Nury Martinez, Councilwomen Monica Rodriguez and Nithya Raman and Councilmen Joe Buscaino, John Lee and Mitch O’Farrell — ordered recommendations from the chief legislative analyst, the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Street Services, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Personnel Department. It also requests the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority to report on past and upcoming efforts to curtail harassment on trains, buses and transportation stops.
“We introduced the motion because of the recent spike, as we’ve seen in every corner of our country, in verbal and physical harassment against the (Asian American Pacific Islander) and Jewish communities. And while this is a nationwide issue, dense cities such as in Los Angeles have been hit the hardest and we therefore have a duty to respond,” Buscaino told council members before Wednesday’s vote.
According to a study by the American Journal of Criminal Justice, violent crimes against Asian Americans doubled between 2015 and 2018. The Los Angeles Police Department also reported an increase in Los Angeles in 2020, which had 15 reported hate crimes against the AAPI community, compared to seven in 2019.
The number of hate crimes in Los Angeles related to race or ethnicity in general grew by 18.6% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to LAPD Deputy Chief Chris Pitcher.
“This motion was purposely written to cover a large range of vulnerable populations … because the reality unfortunately is that many individuals across all demographics and differences are victims of street harassment in Los Angeles. However, it is worth noting that women, and particularly young women are statistically the most targeted population, most often appearing in the form of sexual harassment,” Buscaino added.
Councilman Mike Bonin pointed out that the motion takes a “non-law enforcement, non-carceral approach to dealing with this issue.”
The motion requests a report on street harassment reduction efforts by the Metro Public Safety Advisory Committee, which is a panel comprising riders that attempts to re-imagine public safety on the transit service.
“The idea behind that is to try to find ways to increase and enhance public safety on the L.A. Metro system — on trains, on buses and at our stations — without using law enforcement and to activate public spaces and to have more community ambassadors,” said Bonin, who is a member of Metro’s Board of Directors.
Council members approved the motion with 14 yes votes and one absent.