As an LAPD cruiser crawls down the street, a chorus of high-pitched whistles rise up in every direction. People emerge from the scores of tents that line the sidewalk—tents that are as much a fixture as palm trees in Hollywood—and join protesters and other residents in blowing their tiny silver whistles with all of the force their lungs can summon.

Within moments the police cruiser turns the corner and drives into the distance, and the flurry of chirps subside. But the police will be back again. They always come back. This is Skid Row.