“Housing is a human right, not just for the rich and white!” chanted the crowd outside the home of 3rd District Councilmember Suzie Price on Tuesday, June 23.
The crowd had gathered at Recreation Park in the Alamitos area of Long Beach before marching to Price’s home to promote renters’ rights and protest the rent repayment plan that the City Council had planned to vote on at their meeting that same day. Per the repayment plan, those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic would have had to repay missed or partial rental payments by having their rent raised a set amount until their landlords had been paid back. Those who failed to do so would face eviction.
Jordan Doering, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Long Beach chapter, also shared his experience as a renter during the coronavirus pandemic with the crowd. After losing his job during the public health crisis, Doering informed his landlord that he was only able to pay half his rent and she arrived the next day with a letter from her lawyer, threatening eviction.
“So I stand here today as a renter in the house, only because of the rent eviction moratorium,” Doering told the crowd. “So I’m one of the people sitting with like $10,000 of debt over me and my roommate’s heads. So if this repayment plan passes it’s going to be people like me who are kicked out, because I can’t pay. I still don’t have a job. Unemployment is almost 30% now. It’s worse than when it started, so we can’t expect tenants to start paying that back, it’s just impossible,” Doering said.
“There’s two classes in the city, the landlords and tenants. Tenants like us, we’re losing our jobs. Meanwhile, [while] we’re worried about losing our housing, worried about losing our apartments, landlords are just kicking back in their million dollar houses,” he continued.
An unknown male looked down on the crowd from a second story window in Price’s home, recording the crowd on a smart tablet. It is unclear if Price was home at the time, she did not address the protesters or make an appearance.
Besides being a councilmember, Price is a landlord, and protesters felt she had long neglected and overlooked the needs of renters.
While organizers and community members continued to address the protesters over a megaphone, an unmasked male resident of the neighborhood began to walk into the crowd. A female protester who told the man not to continue advancing without a mask was then shoved by the man. The protester’s partner, DSA member Kevin Joerger, then attempted to shield her with his body, stepping in between the two in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The man then proceeded to grab Joerger forcefully by the throat, digging in his nails and drawing blood.
The attacker then began to walk towards LBPD officers parked at the intersection of Los Altos and Seventh Street, and appeared to be talking with them.
Protesters followed to ask LBPD officers to take their names and statements so that the attacker could be charged.
As witnesses and victims arrived, the attacker could be heard telling them “Good job mobbing a 75-year-old,” and asking them if they had a block party permit.
Protesters continued to try to give a statement but the officers would not take their names or information.
As they spoke, an officer told them to “move” and “get out of the way.”
LBPD confirmed to the Signal Tribune that no police report had been filed as of Thursday, June 25 but that LBPD was aware of the Tuesday, June 23 altercation and had contacted the victim.
Among those who tried to give police their information and eye witness account of what happened was Max Norris.
“Do your f*cking job,” Norris yelled in frustration as he and the other witnesses finally gave up on talking to LBPD and returned to where the other protesters were congregated.
“That old white man should go to jail,” Norris told the Signal Tribune, in reference to the attacker.