Protesters closed candidate forum at Valley Synagogue

A group of homeless activists on Monday shut down a forum for mayoral candidates in a synagogue in the San Fernando Valley and shouted swear words at the candidates and organizers before ending early.

The forum, which was held at Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, had been going on for about half an hour when an audience member interrupted the rep. Karen Bass, shouted at the candidates and called them liars.

A few minutes later, another audience member began shouting, just as Councilman Joe Buscaino began answering a question. Rabbi Sarah Hronsky, one of the organizers, asked the audience to go.

“Friends, we are in a house of worship,” she said. “We are not going to tolerate this kind of language. You have very meaningful points, but we will not tolerate it. “

Mayoral candidates are sitting on the stage

Candidate for mayor at Monday night’s homeless forum before it was disrupted.

(Lydia Horne / For The Times)

When a question was put to Councilman Kevin de León, another in the audience began scolding him for using the Spanish-language word for liar.

Eventually, the candidates got up and started grabbing their stuff.

The event, known as the San Fernando Valley Faith & Services Mayoral Dialogue, had been billed as a conversation between a group of religious and community leaders and the mayoral candidates about homelessness, affordable housing and food insecurity, with a Times reporter acting as moderator.

Instead, audiences shouted about a range of topics, including the size of the police budget and the city’s recent efforts to clear homeless people from Toriumi Plaza in Little Tokyo and move them to temporary housing facilities, such as the LA Grand Hotel in downtown.

Will Sens, one of the protesters, said he disrupted the forum because he was outraged by the candidates’ support for the city’s anti-camp ordinance. This law, passed in June, allows councilors to state that certain areas – public schools, day care centers and other facilities – cannot be surrounded by tents or camps.

Since then, more than 200 locations have been identified by council members as being banned.

“I decided to protest because every single one of the people in there is a lying bastard,” Sens said. “They support measures that get people to kill on a daily basis.”

Hronsky said afterwards that she heard from the audience, who were “really disappointed”, that they were not able to hear the rest of the event or spend time meeting others in the room. Judaism, she said, thrives on debate – asking difficult questions and recording all the answers.

“The disturbance that occurred did not allow for full dialogue and full discourse,” she said.

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