Woman arrested with knife at Venice news conference held by councilman speaking about homelessness crisis

A woman with a knife was arrested Monday in Venice at a news conference in which Los Angeles City Councilman and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino was speaking about the city's homelessness crisis and announcing his plan for creating a safer city.

A Los Angeles Police Department captain was cut by the knife while assisting Buscaino's private security team in detaining the woman, according to the LAPD Officer Lizeth Lomeli, who said the injury was minor.

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The woman, who was not immediately identified, told officers that the knife fell out of her pocket and that she has the knife to protect herself.

It was not immediately clear what occurred before the woman was detained, but the LAPD said that she was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

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"I am grateful for my safety, the safety of the public, and the quick action of the Los Angeles Police Department," Buscaino said in a statement released this morning. "This is exactly why I was in Venice Beach today, charting a new course for our city, and I am convinced now, more than ever, that bold action is needed to make our city safer for everyone, regardless of
housing status."

Buscaino announced on March 15 that he will run for mayor in 2022. The 46-year-old former police officer, who represents the 15th Council District, said he will focus his campaign on quality of life through improving public safety and addressing homelessness.

"Our city has devolved into a place where chaos is common ... people tell me every day that they no longer feel safe in our city," Buscaino said.

Stating that "homelessness makes our city less safe for everyone," Buscaino laid out his plan to create a safer L.A., which he said would include three components:

  • build more housing
  • connect people experiencing homelessness with temporary housing; and
  • enforce a ban on encampments in parks, beaches and sidewalks.

"For those who refuse to go into shelters or permanent housing, we must engage every measure available in order to get them off the streets and if that means using law enforcement, I support it," Buscaino said.

He advocated for eliminating the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which is a joint agency of the city and county of Los Angeles, saying that it "has failed us."

"Any person who asks for help -- whether from an outreach worker, a librarian, or a police officer -- will be offered temporary housing and a way to get there," he said.