Public Safety for REAL – “I Fly! – or How to Keep the Devil Down in the Hole”
Directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers

2017 – 2019
performance project / community conversations

Performances December 2, 2018 at 2 and 7 pm
Los Angeles: Coming Home
at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Performances April 4, 5, 6, 2019 at 8:30pm
“I Fly! or How to Keep the Devil Down in the Hole”
at REDCAT theater

About the Project

The project articulates a vision, in which “Public Safety” is generated by cultivating a sense of mutual responsibility among community members for creating the well being of their community. “Public Safety for Real” is about community generated Public Safety. That means taking back the notion of “public safety” –and reclaiming it, so that it’s no longer something imposed on the community, but rather is something that comes from the community.  In making the performance we’ll be exploring initiatives within Skid Row that are currently generating real public safety and we’ll imagine a community future.  The project starts with an understanding that public safety –for real, comes from self-governance.

The Performance at REDCAT theater: “I Fly! or How to Keep the Devil Down in the Hole”

What’s a low-income neighborhood of color to do, targeted by the police, with lethal outcomes?  What to do beyond despair, beyond protest?  A neighborhood de-colonizes public safety.  Puts their heads and hearts together and evolves practices that create public safety through joyous comings together, joyous activity and collective problem solving.

Over many years Skid Row has emerged as a neighborhood with a number of profound and important values: empathy, looking out for each other, sharing, second chances, recovery, inclusion, tolerance, and embracing difference.  And Skid Row has found ways to articulate these values in numerous community practices. These values and practices are celebrated, analyzed, mused upon, and sung and danced on in Los Angeles Poverty Department’s new performance: “I fly !: or How to Keep the Devil Down in the Hole”
When people feel one another, they feel safe, Public Safety for REAL.

Building the Project

The project includes a series of five public conversation events integral to building the performance project.  Public Safety for REAL conversations at LA Poverty Department’s Skid Row History Museum & Archive are made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Visit

December 13, 2017: Community Generated Safety—How it works in Gladys Park.

A case study from Los Angeles Poverty Department’s Festival for All Skid Row Artists.

Community dialog with: Historian Cathy Gudis, UC Riverside; Charles Porter, United Coalition East Prevention Project and Walter Fears, LA Poverty Department.
Franc’s Melting Pot will bring back the Festival spirit with Skid Row Artist Demetra Wilson, performing with the band, at the after party, closing out this year.

March 24: Civic Art: Four Stories from South Los Angeles - Parks and Public Safety

Movie Nights at the Museum: Filmmaker and artist Sara Daleiden will facilitate a post screening conversation with Lanetta Kimmons of City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation & Parks and Eddie Howard of the Skid Row Parks Committee and you after the screening!

“Civic Art: Four Stories from South Los Angeles” was Commissioned by Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art Program Open Space Graffiti Abatement Project in collaboration with Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District, County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, County of Los Angeles Public Library. SPArt grant funding supports the film’s screening series.

“Civic Art: Four Stories from South Los Angeles” follows the rarely witnessed, intricate process of one of the most mysterious and controversial art forms affecting the public at large. This documentary delves into the requisite political journeys navigated by Los Angeles-based artists as they wrestle with myriad social sensitivities, budgetary constraints, and technical variables. Attempting to stay true to their art process and aesthetic tendencies, these artists negotiate with the government and the neighborhoods to produce ambitious, permanent, large-scale art projects. With the intent to alleviate graffiti and amplify use of shared public spaces, these projects explore the extensive social power of art within four neighborhoods in South Los Angeles County.

March 24: Zillionaires against Humanity - Community voice and Public Safety

Adrian Riskin, Professor of mathematics and author of civic engagement in conversation with community resident General Jeff, Chair of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee. The event is the third in a series of public conversation events integral to building LA Poverty Department’s “Public Safety for REAL” project. The project articulates a vision, in which “Public Safety” is generated by cultivating a sense of mutual responsibility among community members for creating the well being of their community. This evening’s event is made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

April 28: Public Safety and Common Sense

Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, will present his book and discuss it with you and discussants: Ivette Alé, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB coalition), Kim McGill, Youth Justice Coalition, Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing, Laura Ramos, Critical Resistance LA, moderated by Mohamed Shehk, Critical Resistance.

100% of the book sales goes to CRLA thanks to generous Verso Books donation. This event is presented by Critical Resistance and LA Poverty Department.

In his book, The End of Policing, author Alex Vitale asserts that public safety is jeopardized by the “dramatic and unprecedented expansion and intensity of policing in the last forty years that constitutes a fundamental shift in the role of police in society. The problem is policing itself.”
The conversation will explore common sense alternatives to militaristic policing, solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars.

Saturday June 23: Gregory Sale and the Anti-Recidivist Coalition

Artist Gregory Sale and members of The Anti-Recidivist Coalition will discuss their community building and advocacy work that engages people coming out of prison, to make a future that keeps them from going back in.  They’ll unpack their strategic use of art to change the narrative around incarceration through their collaborative art project Future ID’s for AlcatrazAnti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is a movement of formerly incarcerated individuals, advocates, and allies committed to transforming the justice system and improving reentry outcomes. Today, the Coalition has grown into a support and advocacy network of more than 300 members, and hundreds of volunteer mentors and allies, committed to helping one another through reentry, and advocating for a fairer criminal justice system.

Working nationally, Gregory Sale has generated aesthetic frameworks for individuals directly affected by the system, connecting them with communities and initiating discourse around social justice. Sale is now undertaking a series of projects focused on the challenges of reentering society after incarceration. He is currently producing Future IDs: reframing the narrative of re-entry (2016-present), with the Los Angeles-based Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Future IDs at Alcatraz Opening in Fall 2018 at the iconic prison-turned-national park in San Francisco Bay, Future ID’s at Alcatraz is a year-long exhibition featuring ID-inspired artwork by men and women with conviction histories. In stark contrast to prison-issued IDs, these artworks are about individual stories of transformation and how those stories collectively can help re-frame the narrative of re-entry. The installation will be accompanied by a series of monthly public programs and workshops created in collaboration with local organizations and communities.
Developed with individuals honing their ability to succeed after incarceration and desiring to make that transition easier for others, the project is led by a core project team of Dr. Luis Garcia, Kirn Kim, Ryan Lo, and artist Gregory Sale who are working in partnership with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, the William James Association, the National Park Service, its nonprofit partner the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and others to realize this art and social justice campaign. The project will activate the public’s imagination, changing underlying cultural biases and helping to generate the critical community support necessary to advance justice reform.   Read LA WEEKLY about the event.

Thursday, July 19: A Roundtable Community Conversation, facilitated by Fred Moten and Beckey Dennison.

This convening brings together people in Skid Row who have been working to create true public safety practices that come from the community and do indeed make the community safer. The speakers are: Charles Porter, Steve Diaz, Tiffanny Rose, General Dogon, Pastor Cue, Sara Shortt, General Jeff, Hayk Makhmuryan, Amara Ononiwu, Christopher Mack and Alisa Orduna.

Fred Moten is the author of a number of books, including In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition and The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. He is especially concerned with the social force and social origins of black expressive cultural practices, and the relation between insurgent social movements and experimental art. His insights into social movements give him a deep understanding of the significance of grass roots initiatives in Skid Row to build community and safety and resist unjust policing.

The evening had a Roundtable format, with concentric circles of speakers and audience. Fred Moten, Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, convened the evening and framed its purpose and goals via Skype because he was unable to come from NY.  Instead, Beckey Dennison, Executive Director of Venice Community Housing, was our facilitator, she introduced the questions and each speaker in the inner circle had 3 or so minutes to respond. They were encouraged to riff off of each other’s responses, by comparing insights and approaches, supplementing or offering alternative views. At the end of each round there was an opportunity for an ‘open dialogue’ among the speakers. After the questions had been posed and discussed, the space was opened up for 30 minutes of audience questions.  The convening ended and general mingling ensued, giving listeners a chance to approach speakers and engage in follow up discussions.

"I FLY: or How To Keep The Devil Down In The Hole" cast

Performers: Adrian Turnage, Chas Jackson, Christina Collier, Henriëtte Brouwers, Jamaya Kapri, John Malpede, Keith Johnson, Lee Maupin, Natosha Smith, Ray Lewis, Reggie McCray, Stephanie Bell, Tom Grode, Walter Fears.
With rapper / virtuoso artist Crushow Herring, aka Showzart actively working from the streets of Skid Row, fighting for equal rights for everyone, and creating programs and services that aid not only the disenfranchised, but create opportunities for all races, religions and nationalities, proactively conveying consciousness to stimulate positive action for collaborative change.
Skid Row Drummers: Walter Fears, Ray Lewis, Mack Floyd, Elvis Mathews and Michael Clark.
And The LA Playmakers: The LA Playmakers are a local band founded by Joseph Warren and Stan Watson 5yrs ago that play a variety of styles that include: Gospel, R&B, Smooth Jazz, Blues, Rock & Hip-Hop for all occasions. All the band members have one thing in common. They all were members of the Praise and Worship Team at Central City Church of the Nazarene in downtown Los Angeles either past or present.
Joseph Warren – Keyboards / Music Director / Producer – Music Director for Central City Church the past 15yrs / Keyboardist for “The Delfonics” Live Shows.
Edwin Fountaine – Lead / Rhythm Guitar / Vocals, Guitarist / Vocalist at Central City Church / Played with Steve Wonder & Herbie Hancock and many others.
Gregory Vaughan – Bass Guitar, Bass player at Central City Church / Played with Paul Jackson Jr. & Kevin Carter / Can play anything.
Joseph Hicks – Drums / Percussion, Drummer at Central City Church / The “Ultimate” pocket drummer.
Demetra “DeDe” Wilson – Lead Vocals, Lead singer and Praise Team Director at Central City Church / Can sing anything from Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston to Yolanda Adams just to name a few.
Kenneth “Kenny” Christopher – Trumpet / Vocals, Trumpet player for Central City Church & “The Delfonics” Live Shows / Plays like “Miles Davis” very versatile.


Project Funders

LAPD’s “Public Safety for Real” performance project is supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The MAP Fund, the National Endowment for The Arts-theater, The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and California Humanities. Additional support provided by University of California Office of the President Multi-campus Research Programs and Initiative Funding, and the UC Humanities Research Institute.

The Community Conversations are made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit