Oscars 2021: LA homeless threatened and removed to build makeshift fence to protect Academy awards celebs
'They came to us about a week ago saying that we had to move by Friday 6 pm because they were trying to clean up for the Oscars,' a homeless man identified a DJ said
The 93rd Academy Awards was held at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles -- an area plagued by homelessness -- on Sunday, April 25, for the first time in its history.
The Oscars, which usually take place at the Dolby Theater, happened in the downtown LA space in an effort to reimagine the show in a safe way so that celebs and filmmakers could attend the event. However, it came at a cost - the underprivileged population living in the streets around the venue went visibly missing before the day of the flashy event.
On Sunday, the homeless people, many living in tents near the Union Station building in Downtown LA, were not seen anywhere near the area. According to FOX11, which talked to a person who lived on the street around the area, people like him were allegedly threatened and ordered to leave in the days leading up to the star-studded event.
“They came to us about a week ago saying that we had to move by Friday 6 pm because they were trying to clean up for the Oscars,” a homeless man identified a DJ told the station. “They told us if we didn’t move, they were gonna just demolish our stuff and [that] if you have warrants we’re gonna take you to jail.”
DJ, who had been living on a 101 freeway overpass, one block away from Union Station, added that that the authorities did give them the option of relocating to a nearby hotel, which was where many of them went as part of the clean-up effort by the city. "They were coming and harassing us three or four times a day. They forced us to go to the Grand Hotel on 3rd and Figueroa and they kicked everybody out of Union Station so it looks better for the image," says DJ.
According to activists, the city had a history of sweeping the homeless problem under the rug. “I was taken aback by the [report] but we have a history in Los Angeles… That’s what’s led to a place called Skid Row,” Andy Bales, of the homeless advocacy group Union Rescue Mission, said. He added that Los Angeles had been faking its glamorous image for ages in order to be considered the center for national events. This included the time when the Pope came to the city in 1987.
City Council member Kevin De Leon, who represents District 14, refuted the statements made by DJ, issuing the following statement: "While the 93rd Academy Awards are being held at Union Station this year, and despite irresponsible rumors, NO unhoused residents are being forced to relocate. Since being sworn in, my office has been painstakingly working to house those experiencing homelessness throughout my district and we were able to offer housing options to unhoused residents in the vicinity of Union Station."
DJ had a piece of advice for the city officials of LA. "If you’re gonna have your awards show, don’t have it where the homeless people are and you don’t have to worry about it," he said.
The change of venue also put the biggest stars in more danger of the city's criminal element than usual, Fox News reported. A man was arrested in the area where crew members were setting up to welcome the biggest movie stars of the year later on Sunday. A spokesperson for the LAPD said a male adult was taken into custody after he pushed a security guard who attempted to stop him from allegedly breaking into a secured area.