‘There’s no jobs’: A new form of drive-by protest demands city leaders cancel rent

Local activists took to the streets Sunday afternoon calling on the Long Beach City Council to take stronger action to protect the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

But the activists didn’t gather at the common protest spots Downtown.

Instead, abiding by the social distancing orders now in place citywide, the Long Beach chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America used a new tactic learned from their comrades in Portland.

They gathered at an empty parking lot in East Long Beach to decorate nearly a dozen vehicles with signs that called for canceling rent and mortgage debt—among other demands.

Then, they followed a carefully mapped route that included strategic stops at the homes of some of the more fiscally conservative council members, including Stacy Mungo and Daryl Supernaw, as well as Mayor Robert Garcia.

The City Council has already put in place an emergency ordinance that suspends some evictions and allows for renters to delay paying rent if they’re affected by COVID-19, but DSA member Jordan Doering said that doesn’t go far enough.

Activists noted that both Mungo and Supernaw attempted to weaken the ordinance they eventually helped unanimously pass.

“The eviction moratorium was a good first step, but it’s just delaying evictions,” Doering said. “People are going to get evicted because there’s no jobs when [the ordinance] expires in May and then November,” which is when renters would need to have any postponed rent paid back.

Doering said he’s unemployed due to the statewide order that has not only mandated people stay home but has also closed businesses deemed unessential.

“I’m going to get kicked out because there’s no way I can make the money back with those lost wages,” Doering said.

The local activists also called for an end to immigration raids and the release of prisoners from the city jail to avoid an outbreak.

So far, no inmate in city custody has reportedly tested positive for the virus, but sheriff’s officials announced last week the first inmate in county jail with COVID-19. Police say they’re already avoiding booking people into jail for certain lower-level crimes.

The activists are also hoping to put an end to the Long Beach Police Department’s homeless sweeps. Authorities said when resource officers are deployed to address trespassing or the blocking of right-of-ways, homeless individuals are provided with resources and information about temporary shelters. Additionally, city officials have opened four temporary homeless shelters throughout the area in response to the outbreak.

“For all our demands, it’s all in their power and the City Council could do this tomorrow if they wanted to,” Doering said. “Not to say it’s easy, but they could do it.”

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.