On Tuesday May 29th a diverse crowd of about 20 people protested Hotel Erwin for the third time regarding the hotel’s racist practices and their refusal to rectify their racist behavior. The protests were sparked by an incident early February of this year where Hotel Erwin staff called LAPD on a group of non-white paying guests they accused of trespassing when they came from their rooms at midnight inquiring about a place to eat. Some of those paying guests were later arrested and spent the night in jail. Testimony of that incident can be found here: vog.news/erwintest
The protest was organized by Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACan,) Black Lives Matter L.A., and White People 4 Black Lives. It started at Noon and lasted until 1:30 pm. The protesters carried an array of signs with sentiments like “Erwin= Jim Crow Hotel” and “Hotel Erwin Racist Arrest of Paying Guests.” The prominent chant that stood out and resonated with me the most was “White Silence Equals Violence!” A great and blunt mantra denoting how the silence of White folks in the fight against racism and white supremacy is a co-sign to those violent systems. One of the protesters was also humorously quipping that “Hotel Erwin is Roseanne Barr’s favorite hotel.” Pretty hilarious if you ask me.
Enter Mark Sokol’s Venice BID Goons
In addition to the Black and Brown security puppets the Hotel Erwin management uses to buffer themselves, they brought in the Venice BID goons. They rolled in on their bikes shortly after 1pm in distinct LAPD style and inserted themselves in to the center of the protest scene. The BID officers came off rookie-ish but still asserted body language and positioned themselves with intent to subtly intimidate the protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. This was an interesting scene because for the previous two protests at Hotel Erwin, it was the LAPD who played the role of security for the hotel. If you are still confused about exactly who the LAPD serves just watch this video clip of the first protest: vog.news/erwinprotest1 . This scene also reaffirms the understanding of many who assert that the Venice Beach BID is merely a proxy for the LAPD.
In the midst of the Venice BID officers’ imposing presence at the protest scene, some of the protestors vocally announced that the hotel had brought out their paid security. The BID officers kept replying that they were not the hotel’s private security— but in fact they are. Mark Sokol who owns the Hotel Erwin is also the President of the Venice Beach BID. If his failure to acknowledge, let alone address, the numerous racist incidents at his hotel and the racist tirade by his alleged nephew ( vog.news/sokolnephew ) is any indicator of his integrity and diligence, what are we to expect from his dishonestly formed and operated Venice Beach BID?