WASHINGTON, D.C.– In what was anticipated by many to be one of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles’ most important positive events in it’s long and negative history, Skid Row resident, community activist and Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Councilmember General Jeff almost literally got the door slammed in his face after traveling 3000 miles from Los Angeles to hopefully see President Obama.
As part of The White House’s “Community Leaders Briefing Series”, a program to better connect the Obama Administration with community leaders from across the nation, General Jeff applied online and was accepted with a reply e-mail officially inviting him to The White House through The White House Office of Public Engagement in June of this year.
A follow-up e-mail included instructions on how to obtain a mandatory security clearance through the Secret Service. General Jeff was security cleared and received a notice via e-mail confirming a July 1st visit. Due to his inability to secure a plane ticket, General Jeff requested and received a replacement date of August 26th.
Another follow-up e-mail also included security clearance instructions. Again, after re-submitting all necessary personal information, security clearance was given, confirming the new August 26th date. After panhandling enough money to travel to D.C., General Jeff showed up at The White House Conference Center in a navy blue suit and red, white and blue tie to proudly represent the Skid Row community.
After going through the high-tech metal detectors, General Jeff was given approval to enter by Secret Service security personnel who checked his name on a list. The full day’s itinerary began with a morning briefing inside The White House Conference Center. A presentation by the Health and Human Services Department was the focus group that Jeff chose to attend. Their presentation was regarding details about the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as “Obamacare”.
Afterwards, everyone was to walk across the street and go to The White House for a tour and more “briefings”, as stated on the itinerary. There were two lines to enter, one of which was specifically for members of the “Community Leaders Briefing Series”. While the others were checked off on the list, suddenly General Jeff was denied entrance. Various White House interns scrambled to assist and help to clear the matter, most implying that these types of things have happened in the past, including one wrong number on a birthdate which would cause the need for a “re-clearance”.
After more than thirty minutes, it was finally decided by all that General Jeff would not be allowed into The White House. There was no explanation given except that “It’s a Secret Service matter”, stated by an unnamed member of The White House’s Secret Service.
There was one other attendee that was denied due to a birthdate mix-up. She was re-cleared and allowed to attend the afternoon briefing in The White House. Yet and still, General Jeff was again denied access from another security post on the other side of The White House.
“What hurts the most is that not only was I representing Skid Row, I was also representing organizations from cities and counties such as Little Tokyo, San Bernardino, Cal State Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura County and Inglewood”, said General Jeff. “I was truly maximizing this opportunity to help men, women and children from so many other communities besides Skid Row”, he added. “It is devastating and embarrassing to have to tell all these folks, especially the organizations that work with underprivileged kids, that not only did things not go well, but all their hopes and dreams that they gave to me were shut out and left on The White House porch”, Jeff said with disgust.
When asked about what he thought the issue with the Secret Service could have been, General Jeff replied, “If it had to do with anything from back when I was a rapper, it couldn’t be that bad. Remember that Eazy-E from NWA made a song titled “Fuck the Police” and he was still allowed into The White House and met with then-President George H.W. Bush.” He added, “I never knew that I was MORE dangerous than Eazy-E!”.
After rain drops from an early Hurricane Irene sighting sprinkled directly over The White House and surrounding area, General Jeff had no other choice but to rush to the airport and return to LAX. “Everyone talks about there being TWO natural disasters in this area with the 5.9 east coast earthquake that just recently happened and now Hurricane Irene, but sandwiched in-between those two was the devastating Skid Row White House snub of 2011”, Jeff sarcastically, yet disappointedly added.
General Jeff also added that while he doesn’t want to create a rift between Skid Row and The White House, he wonders that maybe if enough folks both in and outside Skid Row make a fuss and get the attention of The White House, would he then be allowed to visit as originally planned and hoped for?
“Either I will be seen as a negative distraction or a champion for the causes of multiple communities. Let’s see how this one plays out.”, General Jeff stated as he attempts to regain the confidence that got him this far. He is known by many as “The Mayor of Skid Row”. He just might need some political savvy to overcome this unfortunate setback in Skid Row’s “positive movement”.
For the record, General Jeff claims to have video to further prove all of his claims titled, “Skid Row’s Road to The White House”. Release date: tba
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