Tenant rights advocates protest rent increases at LA City Hall

Tenant rights advocates protesting rent increases returned today to City Hall, five days after some members of the group were arrested for disrupting a City Council meeting.

"We're here to express outrage about the way [the council] responded to citizens ... by calling in dozens of police officers and using that level of force while [the council] sat and watched," said Becky Dennison, co-director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.

Three members of the organization were arrested Friday, after they reacted with outrage to the council's decision to put off voting on a rent hike moratorium. The move essentially allowed optional rent hikes to go forward on July 1.

The protesters began chanting loudly, prompting the chairman of the council meeting to call in police to restore order.

Officers created a skirmish line to force the protesters outside. When some of them pushed back, officers used Tasers on them, or tackled them to the ground.

Dennison said the district attorney has since decided against bringing charges against one of the men arrested. However, another man faces a felony charge of resisting arrest, and a woman faces a misdemeanor charge, she said.

"Folks are still embroiled in the criminal justice system through no fault of their own, just for being in council chambers on an issue that was deeply important to them," Dennison said.

The man, who posted $25,000 bail, was among the protesters at City Hall today but declined to speak to the media.

Other protesters, like Claudia Gomez, who rents an apartment in Boyle Heights, addressed the council.

"Your action shows that you believe that housing is not a human right for everyone, [that] the right to housing is only for those who can afford it," she told the council members. "Thanks to you, a lot of people are going to be homeless."

Dennison called on the council to work quickly to reform the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance, saying, "We can't wait."

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