Two days after a restaurant owner’s finger was bitten off by a violent transient in Venice, CA, business owners held a closed door meeting, turning away concerned residents and the media from participating.
CBS Los Angeles reported that the organizer of the meeting, Brittney Seelinger, explained that the meeting held at a local magnet school remained exclusive only to local business owners along Washington Blvd. “We really want to stay focused on the goal and mission at hand,” she said.
Seelinger insisted that it was not a secret meeting, but was called to address security for commercial businesses. The merchants aim to create a business-improvement association.
Mark Ryavek, president of the Venice Homeowner’s Association, which is currently suing the city and the county of Los Angeles for negligence in failing to deal with the expanding homeless problem in Venice, was turned away from the meeting. He said that, “There are a lot of drugs, there are a lot of mentally ill people, and they lose it.” Ryavek was upset that he was not let in to the meeting to share his views on the growing crisis.
Mickey Shuman, a resident of Venice for more than twenty years, also was upset he couldn’t get a seat at the meeting to discuss the issues. “I’m just listening outside the store because they won’t let me in,” he complained. “It’s disturbing because I want to be in on what’s going on in my neighborhood.”
Police have arrested the man who allegedly bit off the finger of Clabe Hartley, owner of the Cow’s End Café. Hartley believes that businesses should hire private security companies. “[We need to] figure out what it is we need to do to make our area better,” he said. “To bite somebody is animalistic,” Hartley said after the attack on Saturday. “Humans don’t do that.”
CBS further reported that the business owners who gathered plan to meet for a second time next month. The public and media again will not be permitted to attend the meeting.