Call for civil rights in South L.A.

On Dec. 10-International Human Rights Day-a broad-based coalition of hundreds of policymakers, healthcare workers, activists and residents will gather for the 2nd Annual South Los Angeles Health and Human Rights Conference to take action on community-led, results-oriented approaches to healthier communities and human rights in South Los Angeles, an area marred by a long history of inequity and disinvestment.The day-long conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa in Los Angeles, from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., will be followed by an action at the site of the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital where a developer is seeking zoning changes that would remove much needed healthcare resources from the community in order to build luxury apartments. In addition, journalists are invited to a media briefing and breakfast, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. "We're uniting to achieve marked and measurable improvements in the health and well-being of children, adolescents and families," said Jim Mangia, president and CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Centers, which serve more than 35,000 South Los Angeles residents. "In South Los Angeles and beyond, the challenge is not about whether we work together to seize this opportunity to achieve results through human rights, but about how." Long-standing structural violence has led to deep inequities in the health care and physical environment in South Los Angeles. Some of the facts that illustrate the poor health and social outcomes include: 30% of adults are uninsured; 64% of schools are insufficiently staffed, resourced, and without a clean, safe and functional learning environment; 14.1% of residents are unemployed, in addition to residents who are underemployed or among the long-term unemployed; homicide is the leading cause of premature death; and five South LA emergency rooms have closed since 2000, leaving only one full-scale ER/trauma center to serve over one million residents in a nearly 100 square mile area. "America is often held up as a beacon of human rights, but within our own shores, the reality is quite different," said Pete White, Co-Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network. The number of violations suffered by South Los Angeles residents is staggering."

********** Published: November 25, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 32