Brianna Kupfer's Councilman Mike Bonin Opposes 'Criminalizing Homelessness,' But Asked to Have a 'Trespasser' Removed From in Front of His Office

LA City Councilman Mike Bonin opposes arresting homeless people, yet his office asked LAPD to remove one homeless man who was camped outside one of his offices. CREDIT: Letter/Source, Photo/Mike Bonin for City Council Facebook

Since the recent rash of murders in Los Angeles committed by homeless people (two in five days), the issue and the response of the city and county’s elected leaders over the last many years has finally come under harsh scrutiny, and while a few of the city’s politicians are still too shell-shocked to say much, LAPD Chief Michel Moore has blamed at least one murder on a lack of mental health treatment, LA City Councilman Mike Bonin has pledged to move forward with his non-solutions to homelessness, and LA City Councilman Kevin de Leon is claiming that he’s trying to get people housed but homeless activists want to keep them on the street. (Spoiler alert: He’s absolutely lying about his own actions.)

But as to the murder of Brianna Kupfer, the 24-year-old woman who was stabbed to death as she worked inside a furniture store on Friday afternoon, there was a noticeable and cruel silence over the weekend and through Monday from the Democrat politicians whose policies and rhetoric led to her death, from her Congressman, Ted Lieu, from her County Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, from the man who’s supposed to prosecute her killer, George Gascon, and from her City Councilman, Mike Bonin.

Once the LAPD held a press conference Tuesday – pretty darn quickly after Kupfer’s father, who’s well known in the Pacific Palisades for his volunteerism, blasted Los Angeles politicians in an interview on Fox & Friends – and announced a reward, Bonin finally broke his silence.

That’s it. As if he’s passing along someone’s lost cat poster. But for Bonin to say more would be for him to possibly have to entertain the possibility that his policies advocating for the “rights” of homeless people over everyone else set the stage for Brianna’s death. That might be why, as of the time of this writing, Bonin has not tweeted the updated wanted/reward poster, which gives the suspect’s name and pretty much says he was homeless.

Utilizing surveillance footage, LAPD announced the suspect as 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith, but does not specify a city of residence.

“Smith has been in Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Covina, San Diego, San Francisco, and several other locations around Southern California.”

The public is also warned that he’s “highly likely to be using public transportation” and that “special attention should be given to bus stops and train platforms.” Yep. Sounds homeless.

Bonin, who used to be “unhoused,” says his “lived experience” informs his thoughts regarding how to solve homelessness, which include issuing a directive to – or coming to an agreement with, whichever you prefer – LAPD Chief Michel Moore, instructing LAPD officers to ignore those breaking the “no camping” law on Venice Beach and creating dangerous encampments, and standing in solidarity with the hundreds of trespassers who took over Echo Lake Park for more than a year when the LAPD drove them out.

His policies made Venice Beach so dangerous and heinously polluted with human waste, trash, and used drug paraphernalia that LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva stepped in and cleaned things up during the summer of 2021. But since LA County DA Gascon will not prosecute misdemeanors or enforce loitering or trespassing citations, LAPD will not issue them, and the problem has returned with a vengeance.

Bonin and his fellow travelers wholeheartedly believe that if you are “anti-homeless” you are a “fascist” and your beliefs are “rooted in hierarchy and elitism and…advocate for authoritarianism. As reported by our Jerry Wilson, Bonin’s Chief of Staff, David Graham-Caso tweeted that Saturday evening:

Anti-homeless language resembles fascistic rhetoric because they are both rooted in hierarchy and elitism and because they both advocate for authoritarianism.

Don’t complain about being called a fascist. Stop acting like one instead.

He was so ratioed that he followed it up Sunday morning with this:

His entire timeline on Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to hitting back against the “fascists” pointing out that it’s not just a homeless crisis anymore; one is in mortal danger simply waiting for a bus outside a major train station or working at a high-end furniture store in what was once a nice neighborhood.

Graham-Caso did not utter a single word about Brianna Kupfer’s brutal slaying until Tuesday evening, when he dutifully retweeted his boss’s tweet with the wanted/reward poster. That’s it. This is a constituent, not some random person, and he can’t be bothered to acknowledge her humanity.

He had a lot to say, though, about the attempted recall of his boss, which the LA City Clerk announced late Tuesday had failed to qualify for the ballot. Graham-Caso posted an 18-tweet thread pontificating and blaming “right wing gossip blogs” for being “obstructionists” and preventing them from (finally) solving the problem. He had the gall to invoke the people “suffering & dying on our streets,” meaning the “unhoused,” ignoring the fact that at least two people were viciously murdered by “unhoused” individuals in the past four days.

People are suffering & dying on our streets & we must get past the poisonous politics exemplified by the recall and amplified by RW gossip blogs if we are going to have a shot at ending homelessness in Los Angeles.

The frustration about homelessness that was manipulated by the recall proponents on the Westside is very real & felt across LA. But solutions are harder to achieve when lies told by obstructionists get all of the attention.

He then goes back to the important work of “letting trolls know the good news.”*

However, when it comes to his own office and staffers, Bonin’s apparently got a different point of view. Back in June, 2021, Bonin staffer Hannah Levien sent a memo to various city officials, including LAPD, complaining of one – as in one, single, solitary – homeless man who’d set up shelter outside of his district office in Westchester (near Los Angeles International Airport), asking if his presence would be an “interference with business trespass.” In other words, whether he could be arrested and made to leave.

Levien wrote:

Our staff is coming back to the office and we need to have full access to the entrance. Additionally, my office looks directly at the entrance and can hear everything through the wall. We have a person permanently staying in front of our office who is both disruptive to our ability to work and blocks the entrance. Claudia – is this considered interference with business trespass?

Please let me know as soon as possible.

Fox 11 Los Angeles reported on the letter, and one of their reporters attempted to ask Levien about it. Here’s what happened:

Fox 11 also went to the office and found the man, who identified himself as Jack Gold. He said he was unaware that Bonin’s staffers had a problem with him camping out there (who could blame him, given Bonin’s public stance) and moved his belongings away from the door. Levien, though, told the Los Angeles Times that the reason she was disturbed was that Gold “often slept without clothes, within view of her office, where she often worked late by herself.”

That’s definitely disturbing, as is the fact that Bonin allows female staffers to work late, alone, in an office in an area where there’s a serious homelessness problem.

But, it’s nothing compared to what other constituents face. One woman wrote an open letter to Levien after watching the Fox 11 report, asking:

Did he push an unhoused woman up against the wall of the office and beat her mercilessly? Because that is something I witnessed right outside my home.

Did he go on record during an NBC Streets of Shame segment, claiming he was a struggling addict with violent anger issues, only to later kill an elderly man in broad daylight while stealing his bicycle? Because that was someone who hung out in my alley for years on end.

Did he remove his pants and have explosive diarrhea all over the walls of your office? Because that happens all over my home and alley on a regular basis. There is actually a giant black dessicated log of feces right outside of my home as I type this.

Did you get a used heroin needle stuck in the side of your shoe as you walked to or from the office? Because that happened to my husband just last month.

Graham-Caso, our old friend, threw his colleague under the bus and disavowed the memo:

“Councilmember Bonin didn’t know about this and it isn’t how he personally would have handled it. He believes our response to homelessness and encampments on public property needs to lead with housing and services, not enforcement.”

Sorry, David. We don’t believe you or Bonin. Any time you’re called out you turn around and blame it on “right wingers,” including this memo incident, which your office described as (paraphrasing) a weaponized, toxic response. Progressive wingnuts like you are all about your virtue signaling and ineffective and deadly policies but you don’t want to live anywhere near the consequences. You believe that we don’t need protection from homeless people…

…unless they’re sleeping outside of your office.

(NOTE: Judging from news reports about the recall’s failure to qualify, Graham-Caso and Bonin might be celebrating too soon. Proponents needed 27,317 signatures for the measure to qualify and submitted 39,188. The LA City Clerk ruled 13,223 signatures, or nearly 34% invalid, meaning that the measure failed to qualify by only 1,352 signatures, and the clerk’s office took the entire 30 business days they were allotted to “validate” those 39,188 signatures. Something doesn’t add up.)