Activist, neighborhood council member, hip hop artist
In a new profile, NationSwell examines the storied career of General Jeff Page, often called “the mayor of Skid Row.” For the last decade, General Jeff has been a fierce advocate for the makeshift community that occupies the sidewalks, missions, and low-income housing units of Downtown Los Angeles. Through his efforts, he has become one of the loudest and most recognizable voices for a population that often goes unrecognized.
Early in his life, General Jeff made a name for himself in the West Coast hip hop community. He served as hype man for Rodney O & Joe Cooley before working as an assistant and bodyguard for DJ Quik (hiding Quik from danger, as it turns out, following the murder of The Notorious BIG). In the mid-2000s, General Jeff fell on hard times and found himself living on Skid Row. Seeing a need for activities to involve and uplift the many people living there, he started the Positive Movement, a project to create opportunities to engage the community.
In 2008, he successfully ran for a seat on the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, where he served for six years, often coming into conflict with business leaders and Downtown residents trying to bring Skid Row into Downtown revitalization efforts that threatened its largely homeless community. He was defeated in his campaign for a fourth term on the DLANC board in 2014.
But General Jeff hasn’t given up his fight. He’s now leading a movement to create a new neighborhood council that would represent only the community of Skid Row. In a Facebook post, he argues that “it has been extremely difficult for Skid Row’s issues to make it onto DLANC agendas with so much development and new businesses happening. Skid Row’s issues are too many and too vast to be put on any sideburners.”
Developing a new neighborhood council representing such a small area would be extremely unusual, and General Jeff’s movement is likely to encounter a great deal of resistance. Still, the mere attempt has drawn awareness to the unique problems facing Downtown’s most neglected district.
General Jeff also serves on the LA County Integrated Advisory Board and chairs a subcommittee on homelessness.