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Guest Opinion: "Ladies' Night" in Skid Row

By General Jeff
Published: Friday, November 14, 2008, at 06:49PM

Although it was the same night as Downtown Art Walk, there was an equally, if not more, important event held in the heart of Skid Row last night.

Simply titled "Ladies Night," it was anything but simple as ALL of Skid Row's women were invited to a women-only function that included presentations focusing on topics such as victims of domestic violence issues and laws that help to protect helpless women. There was also a special presentation of self-defense martial arts that was well received by the women in attendance.

This wonderful, needed event was produced by Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph from Central Division, L.A.P.D.

His efforts to invite as many women in Skid Row as possible were endless, with Joseph oftentimes running out of his self-made flyers promoting the event.

Reports estimate that nearly 175 women were able to attend this historic event. There were many rumored complaints prior to the event from women that resided in facilities with strict housing rules that were unable to attend, suggesting that the number of women in attendance could have increased greatly. The event started at 6 p.m. and by the time it was scheduled to be over, those women would have jeopardized losing what housing they did have with many of them staying in local missions and shelters. No repeat event dates were announced even though there were several suggestions to do so because the women felt that an event with such important information should be heard by more women, even those not living in Skid Row.

Other speakers besides S.L.O. Joseph included, Gordon Turner, Deputy City Attorney who focused on the laws that women should know, encouraging them to see a complaint all the way through if ever involved in a domestic situation, Officer Cleon Joseph, S.L.O. Joseph's twin brother, gave a physical presentation which included several martial arts techniques focused on aiding females with self-defense skills to use if ever under attack. This segment was well received by the entire room and could have easily gone longer. Detective Paula Garcia addressed various topics that included sex crimes, restraining orders and more.

SRO Housing Corp. and the Midnight Mission also partnered in the event by providing the James Wood Community Center and ordering enough Domino's Pizza for all the ladies in attendance to take one entire pizza each.

Overall, this was one of the best events ever held in Skid Row and it could not have come at a better time. With more and more women coming to Skid Row in recent months and with the two-year anniversary of the Safer Cities Initiative looming, it's good to see Central Division and L.A.P.D. taking the initiative regarding a subject that is so important to the very citizen's that they swore to protect.

Again, props to S.L.O. Joseph and the other panelists that made so many women in Skid Row feel "cared about" and "protected," which is what one woman named "Robin" stated to me after the event was over, even if it was for only one day. Afterall, we have to start somewhere. Why not Skid Row?

General Jeff is a community activist in the Skid Row neighborhood and is the Residential Director - Central City East representative on the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

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