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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – César Chávez, UFW

LA County Organizations Build Community Support to Combat UNFAIR CAR IMPOUNDS

Aug. 7, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA – In the footsteps of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Building, the Free Our Cars (Liberen Nuestros Autos) Coalition launched a campaign today to change unfair towing practices that cost struggling families millions of dollars in fees and lost wages across the county. The campaign will collect anonymous stories from victims of unfair impounds via a phone call or website (www.liberennuestrosautos.org) and offer to connect them to training on their legal rights when stopped by police. “Lasting change grows from within communities,” said Min. Zach Hoover, Executive Director, LA Voice. “Reporting impounds is a crucial step to increasing knowledge, awareness, safety and power for immigrants whose success is bound to our County’s,” he added.

The coalition, led by immigrant leaders from Pomona, Baldwin Park, and beyond will share the stories of victims of unfair impoundment practices and policies. With the goal to mobilize the community to use the informational hotline, collect 1,000 stories this year, and train immigrants across the region on their private property rights when stopped by police, community leaders hope to engage impacted residents and work to change policies in local cities and throughout Los Angeles County. The coalition will run a multi-month informational campaign embracing partnerships with traditional radio and TV to place Public Service Announcements and through grassroots mobilization as well as engaging in social media, SMS and other information dissemination efforts.

“Changing unjust and irrational impound policies in L.A. County is crucial to protecting every Angeleno's legal rights. But in order for us to make an impact, we need to hear from the community,” said John Kim, Co-Director, Advancement Project. “With real stories from community members impacted by these policies, we'll be armed with the evidence we need to show County officials how real and widespread the issue of unfair impounds is. Your experiences are crucial to changing unfair policies in L.A. County, so we encourage you to anonymously report your stories, which will be highlighted on www.liberennuestrosautos.org

Stories of suffering families due to the economic cost of losing a car and the resulting fees and fines were crucial in the struggle to change impound protocols in the City of Los Angeles. These stories will be key to replicating that change across the County, which has led to a 40% decrease in impounds over the past year in the City of Los Angeles, according to LAPD records.

“Voices of immigrant families are too often excluded from issues that impact their lives directly. As subjects of our own reality it is important we tell our stories in order to shape and influence policies that can put an end to the unfair car impoundments targeting immigrant communities,” said Pedro Joel Espinosa, Mobile Voices Organizer, IDEPSCA.

"For too long predatory impounds have pushed people deeper into poverty while making local cities richer. Only by reporting your stories and helping paint the picture of how the impounds have impacted you and your family can we finally put a stop to the abuses. Share your story with us and we can show that there is a pattern of injustice that must be changed immediately!" said Suzanne Foster, Executive Director, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center.

“The economic injustice of preying on the most vulnerable communities and residents through predatory impoundment policies has to stop. And this is a major step of how we will work to educate, mobilize, and activate the community to ensure these polices are abolished,” said Arturo Carmona, Executive Director, Presente.org.

"The Free Our Cars campaign is a tool to amplify the voices of those who have been suffering without equal access to a drivers license. It is a tool by which everyone will be able to learn about the stories that are too often kept within the victim's social circles,” said Elvia Meza, Director of Community Engagement, ACLU of Los Angeles.