HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » My Return to Occupy Los A...

Wed May 2, 2012, 01:47 PM

 

My Return to Occupy Los Angeles – May Day, 2012

Last edited Wed May 2, 2012, 03:39 PM - Edit history (1)



Alma and I had not been to an Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) event in person since the camp at City Hall was busted up at the end of November, 2011. Yesterday, though, to support the ill-named ‘General Strike’ call, we headed back downtown to join the convergence at MacArthur Park and from there to march past Pershing Square, home of the current OLA General Assembly (GA), to Skid Row at 6th and Main.

Organizers of the May 1 General Strike in Los Angeles built the event around ‘Four Winds,’ groups of people from each of the four cardinal directions all converging at Skid Row. Based on where Alma and I live (near Inglewood), we could have gone with either the South Wind or the West Wind. Being a long-time West-sider and a creature of habit, I chose to hook up with the Westside contingent. (The South Wind group started at the historic intersection of Florence and Normandie.)

The West Wind contingent began at the Pacific Ocean (on Wilshire Boulevard) and had several actions planned as they caravanned to MacArthur Park. Due to some scheduling conflicts, however, Alma and I had to skip all the preliminary actions and join the penultimate convergence at the Park. Our trip there was uneventful and we found a reasonably priced parking garage about 1 block from MacArthur Park on Carondolet St.

We got to the Park at around 1:30 p.m. and on the southwest corner many activists had already gathered. I would estimate turnout there was between 1-200 folks. The Los Angeles Police Department was out in force, with cops on foot, on bicycle, on horseback and in the notorious black and whites lined up in the park and on 6th St. I would estimate there were at least 75 cops there, a figure that seems accurate based on media reports that the LAPD called a tactical alert and had as many as 1,000 officers mobilized for the events.

People continued to meet at MacArthur Park for the next 45 minutes or so and then we began a slow march northward on 6th street towards the downtown. By this point, enough folks had gathered that there was not enough room for all of them on the sidewalk and folks organically moved into the traffic lanes of 6th St. The LAPD cars kept blipping their sirens every 5-10 seconds in a most annoying fashion and driving the wrong way down the southbound lanes of 6th St.
The march towards downtown took us through what I think is now a primarily Latino district of small businesses and urban strip malls. The march also took us past another historic edifice, the Ramparts Division headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department. (More on that below.) As we used the 6th St. bridge over the Pasadena freeway, many activists stopped to hold their signs so that northward bound drivers on the 110 could see them. We received many honks of support from motorists and it was probably a site to see, a human chain stretching the entire length of the bridge.



As we crossed the bridge and entered downtown proper, I noticed the LAPD presence seemed to intensify. Now it seemed at ever intersection there were phalanxes of cops stationed blocking cross street traffic and occasionally blocking us from continuing down 6th street. Eventually though we managed to get to 6th and Main, home of Occupy Skid Row.

“It looks like the drum circle finally won the battle of the wills,” I said to Alma. I was referring to the perpetual annoyance said drummers always posed when we were trying to run General Assembly. The drummers were out in force today and the same circle of latter-day Dionysians were celebrating through dance. Most people, though, were milling about. OLA organizers had set up a Welcome Tent and a Food Tent. As was the practice during the two months of the camp, volunteers were feeding anyone standing in line with no questions asked and no money changing hands. (That is one of my fondest memories of the camp -- the valiant attempts to feed the Occupiers and the hungry in general.)

A couple of my SoCal colleagues from DemocraticUnderground.com showed up (Bob and Mike) and we stood around exchanging anecdotes and discussing what our next plans were. Mike was there as a Legal Observer and taking copious photographs to document interactions between the LAPD and OLA. There were many green-hatted observers from the National Lawyers Guild present and I am eternally grateful to them for the service they provide.

One of the more heart-warming developments is that, while we were assembled at 6th and Main, a large contingent of 2-300 activists for immigrants rights came marching up 5th street heading northward. It was quite a picturesque moment to see this brigade, most of whom carried the same sign.



After we stood around for about an hour, an impromptu march from 6th and Main up through the financial district began. Here is where I know that I am turning into an old activist. The march from MacArthur Park had been about 2 miles and I knew that we were looking at a 2-mile hike back to the car (since I am unfamiliar with how the buses work in the metro area, not having worked there in more than 10 years). As the crowd was walking up Bunker Hill and reaching its peak, the crowd went to veer right past the Wells Fargo headquarters. Alma and I decided to take our leave then and return to the car. We attempted to leave at 4th and Hill and were greeted with yet another phalanx of edgy, muscled-up cops. At first we thought we would not be allowed to leave (as was the case with past encounters with LAPD at Occupy events). Well, the commanding officer asked if we were trying to leave. I said, “Yeah.” “OK,” the commander said, pointing to two LAPD officers, “escort these two down the stairs to 5th Street.” The commander turned back to us. “You can’t congregate here.”

Now were I younger and not already bushed from the 2-mile mark, I might have chosen to take a stand right then and there for the First Amendment right of free speech and assembly. But these police were very edgy. Alma took out her cell phone to snap a picture of the police formation. “Ma’am,” the police commander said, “this is not the time for pictures. You need to leave. NOW!” Very ugly and edgy – he had placed his hand on his baton. So we went down the steps with these two hulking LAPD officers shadowing us behind. Alma was really pissed off and was telling the two cops what bullies they were and how they were tools of the 1%. We reached 5th St. and the two LAPD officers remained standing on the flight of stairs. But I had and have a bad feeling about how things might have gone down had we done a Rosa Parks there. (We found out later that a LAPD officer had been injured by a skateboard, if you believed the media whores on KTLA5, so maybe that was why these cops were so edgy. Of course, KTLA was doing its part to propagate the whore media line, as the reality is that it was Occupiers chanting “We are peaceful” who defused tensions at that intersection.) Very creepy though and the First Amendment is more honored in the breach than in the observance in downtown Los Angeles.





In retrospect, it seemed as if the LAPD was stationing itself to guide the march past those very financial institutions that lay at the heart of OLA’s grievances. Alma and I have scrupulously adhered to the position that the police are members of the working class whose jobs may require them to protect the interests of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. But, after yesterday, my opinion is starting to change and I am now starting to view the police as working class but also as ‘class traitors.’ They are no longer protecting and serving me. They protect and serve the monied interests. So the LAPD and its enablers are hereby put on notice. While I was not ready for my Rosa Parks moment yesterday, its behaviors and attitudes are making inevitable a Rosa Parks moment from me at some point in the future. I had to see this with my own eyes yesterday and have time to think on it but now I will come to future encounters with my eyes opened and a plan in place.

We reached our car on Carondolet and drove home without incident. Later that night I watched a choppy Livestream feed of the night’s General Assembly at Pershing Square. It looked as though there might have been 150-200 people assembled for it. Not bad for a movement that just six months ago appeared on the verge of extinction.

If I had the feeling at times that I was trapped inside a Pirandello script – 1000 Activists in Search of a Cause, if you will – the grievances that animated the Occupy Movement last fall are still there and have not gone away. Notoriously absent from yesterday’s activities were any leaders of the Democratic Party. Good to know that we have all to a large extent been abandoned even by the party that nominally represents working class interests. At least we now know where we stand and that we can expect little help or support from the Democratic Party. It never hurts to know who your friends are (or are not).



22 replies, 7834 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply My Return to Occupy Los Angeles – May Day, 2012 (Original post)
coalition_unwilling May 2012 OP
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #1
ellisonz May 2012 #19
Zorra May 2012 #2
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #12
nadinbrzezinski May 2012 #3
Waiting For Everyman May 2012 #4
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #7
Juneboarder May 2012 #5
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #6
sabrina 1 May 2012 #17
pinboy3niner May 2012 #8
sabrina 1 May 2012 #10
pinboy3niner May 2012 #15
sabrina 1 May 2012 #9
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #11
sabrina 1 May 2012 #13
pinboy3niner May 2012 #14
sabrina 1 May 2012 #18
coalition_unwilling May 2012 #20
sabrina 1 May 2012 #21
ellisonz May 2012 #16
TBF May 2012 #22

Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 03:02 PM

1. One shameless self-kick for increased exposure - n/t

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #1)

Thu May 3, 2012, 01:35 PM

19. Oww...

Hey watch where you're kicking!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:13 PM

2. Thanks for the fine report.

Yes. The police serve and protect the 1%.

There are definitely times when it is best to walk away, and return to fight another day.



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Zorra (Reply #2)

Wed May 2, 2012, 10:49 PM

12. At the time it happened, I was pretty tired and not thinking as quickly as

 

I would have been were I still in my 20s. My outrage boiled up after I had time to think about it and realized the utter arrogance this cop showed toward my wife and me. And to think my tax dollars pay his salary.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:15 PM

3. Kick

 

In some ways we are moving beyond occupy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:19 PM

4. That was very interesting to read (and see via your pics).

Thank you for sharing your experience.

I haven't been to an OWS event yet, but I plan to if there are more this year.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Waiting For Everyman (Reply #4)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:57 PM

7. Some details that may help: OLA has General Assemblies

 

Monday, Wednesay and Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. at Pershing Square. They also have a 'themed GA' on Saturday nights.

According to one of the original campers, no one is camping any longer (although some homeless brothers and sisters may be living on Occupy Skid Row.

The official website of OLA is http://occupylosangeles.org/ I find the site a bit cumbersome and chaotic, but you can at least get a sense of the lay of the land there.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:20 PM

5. Thank you for sharing your experience!!

I've come across a few of your posts and just wanted to thank you for sharing all of your experiences. I visited OLA once, back in October, and was highly impressed with the group.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Juneboarder (Reply #5)

Wed May 2, 2012, 04:51 PM

6. After I published the OP, I realized that yesterday was a bit bittersweet. Of

 

all the wonderful Occupiers I met prior to November 30, I only encountered one yesterday (the gracious Karoline, who had done such a wonderful job Moderating GA's). She had exited the camp shortly before the raid and, to Alma's and my relief, had not been arrested and brutalized by the LAPD.

Bslanced against that, though, I met DUers pinboy3niner and uk4iLefty yesterday for the first time. That was very cool!

The main reason yesterday was bittersweet, though, is the sense of what we had before november 30 and what Villaraigosa and his goons destroyed. The chain link fence is still up around the block at City Hall. There, for 8 precious weeks, an alternate mode of living was not only preached but practiced.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #6)

Thu May 3, 2012, 10:10 AM

17. That is true, the beautiful way people were living

and taking care of the homeless etc. before they destroyed it. In Zuccotti Park eg, they were doing so much good, I guess they just couldn't allow that. Many people said that there was a magical feeling when you went there, hard to describe. But they just came in and ripped everything apart. So symbolic really.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 05:26 PM

8. Great report, coalition!

It was cool meeting you and Alma, too. I posted a brief report in sabrina's thread (see below), and that subthread also contains a link to my photo album.

I had to laugh when I saw reports that LAPD assigned 1,000 officers to the protests, as I'm sure I saw more than that with my own eyes--plus a small contingent of L.A. County Sheriff's Deputies staging with an armored tactical vehicle near Pershing Square Park. And I'm sure you saw the 6 LAPD helicopters hovering overhead. At one point, a line of 40-50 police cruisers raced past, sirens blaring. The L.A. Times reported that police also issued a citywide tactical alert, which allowed them to keep cops on duty past the end of their shifts.

Here's what I posted in sabrina's thread:

Thousands of marchers converged in downtown, coming from the four cardinal compass directions. In addition to these four 'Winds,' picketing union workers at LAX formed a fifth Wind.

It was hard to get an accurate picture of the size of the event, as there were concurrent marches and rallies throughout the day. I estimate that there were easily more than 2,000 strung out for what seemed to be a half mile in one Occupy L.A. M1GS march alone, while one of the immigrants' rights marches moved in parallel a block over and police prevented the two from merging. (VERY heavy police presence, including six helicopters hovering overhead at one point.)

I met coalition unwilling and his wife for the first time, approaching them because I recognized the style of their signs from posts here. U4iklefty soon joined us before the main march kicked off. Later, Lefty and I joined Fire Walk With Me and we took a break to share some coffee and cookies. (That turned into a long walk, as most of the businesses in the area had closed.)

There also was a series of actions in the financial district, where the local HQ buildings of major banks were cordoned by police in riot gear. (The BofA building also was protected by a long line of metal barricades.)

Have to finish uploading my pics. Normally I take about 30 at an Occupy event, but this time I ended up with about 80.

This turned out to be a very exciting day--for a 'flop.'

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=635195



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #8)

Wed May 2, 2012, 10:39 PM

10. Hi pinboy, I looked at your photos and they are fantastic.

You should post a thread in this forum with the photos. One really struck me and I wanted to ask you about it, it was a photo of what looked like a tank. Was that really a tank?

Btw, don't know if you saw my response to your post in my thread, but I loved that story about the guy you bought coffee for and how he gave his change away because he need it right then. I love that he did that, but hope he has enough to buy himself some coffee when he needs it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #10)

Thu May 3, 2012, 01:49 AM

15. Hi sabrina, I've been decompressing and catching up on other things

I just haven't had the time or the energy to face the chore of sorting, selecting and organizing the photos into a narrative to tell the story properly. But better late than never, I guess...

I posted about the vehicle in #14, below. It's not a tank, but the story at the last link reports that some agencies have acquired actual surplus tanks--usually in rural areas. And while LASD says it doesn't want to have surplus military vehicles that look too militaristic, it apparently doesn't have a problem with militaristic vehicles procured from a civilian supplier instead of the military.

As for the coffee story, the Ronald McDonald's house donation was the only reason I mentioned that man at all. Negative stereotypes about people on Skid Row always seem to prevail. We don't hear enough about how people who are down and out can be very caring and giving, often sharing what little they have to help someone else in need. I couldn't help being struck by that as I watched the man put his last coins into the donation box...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Wed May 2, 2012, 10:34 PM

9. Thank you for this report, coalition_unwilling, very well written btw.

This I could not agree with more:

But, after yesterday, my opinion is starting to change and I am now starting to view the police as working class but also as ‘class traitors.’ They are no longer protecting and serving me.


Looking at a lot of the photos from yesterday, from various parts of the country and in Europe also, the police are there to protect the banks at all costs. lined up outside each of the banks, I doubt even they saw a murder in progress, they would be pulled away from their prime duty.

Good to know that we have all to a large extent been abandoned even by the party that nominally represents working class interests. At least we now know where we stand and that we can expect little help or support from the Democratic Party. It never hurts to know who your friends are (or are not).


This movement would never have started if people had not realized they had been abandoned. I think for their outing since the winter, the day went very well all over the world. This can only grow as things get worse for the average person, especially in Europe where things are totally disastrous right now.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #9)

Wed May 2, 2012, 10:42 PM

11. My advice to would-be bank robbers and other such antisocial types: wait

 

until Occupy mounts a peaceful manifestation in downtown LA to plan your next job. With the LAPD all emergency tactical alerted to the presence of non-violent "terrorists" downtown, there will be far fewer police guarding and protecting the far-flung regions of Los Angeles.

(in case it's needed)

On a serious note, I remember how Clinton always touted how he had added so many cops during his presidency. Yesterday, I got the feeling that I now know why all those extra cops were added: to suppress and intimidate the citizenry from challenging the status quo. The LAPD deploys a 1000 cops against non-violent demonstrators and then turns around and blames the demonstrators because it has such high overtime costs. Yeesh.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #11)

Wed May 2, 2012, 10:58 PM

13. Remember the day that Occupy Oakland staged a protest to shut down the ports after the police nearly

killed two Iraq War veterans and old ladies in wheelchairs etc? There were over 100,000 people there and on very short notice. The police stayed away most of the day because of the reaction to their violent behavior a few days before that. There was not a single incident that entire day. The violence that we have seen has mostly come from the police when they attack peaceful citizens.

I agree with you and understand how you must have felt when those cops acted the way they did.
Here is a photo from Pinboy's photo stream with the 'tank' or whatever it is that I asked about:



They are armed to the teeth against the people. If OWS did nothing else, it has exposed what has been going on with the militarization of the police.



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #13)

Wed May 2, 2012, 11:33 PM

14. I had to look it up to be sure, because the mfr. makes diferent versions of this

It looks like the Lenco BearCat Armored Rescue Vehicle that the Sheriff's Department displayed at the Grand Opening of the department's L.A. South Station in November 2010. (BearCat stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck). Photo of Lenco vehicle:



A photo of the LASD vehicle at the 2010 Grand Opening is posted on flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikesphotos_us/5168997846/

California Watch, part of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, did a good article on LASD and other agencies acquiring surplus military equipment, but I had to shake my head at one part:

The LA County Sheriff's Department won't take some items because they have too much of a militaristic look. That includes Humvees and armored personnel carriers. Any equipment that has a green, combat-ready appearance is repainted.

The force did at one time have armored trucks that came from the military, but they weren't suited for Los Angeles and its tangled web of freeways, Watkins said. Full-blown tanks would be out of the question, too.

Free Military Surplus Gear A Boon To Local Law Enforcement
http://www.10news.com/news/30806675/detail.html



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #14)

Thu May 3, 2012, 11:52 AM

18. Why do civilian police need military gear? We have a military, the civilian police departments

duties are non-military and I always thought, using them as military was unconstitutional. But I know that since 9/11 and the establishment of the Orwellian 'Homeland Security', the rightwing dream of having the military patrolling our streets is becoming more and likely.

OWS has brought this to the forefront, as I believe the tactics used on them are a practice run for how to deal with civil unrest. Rather than deal with the issues that cause civil unrest.

I wonder how much of our tax dollars that thing cost? Thanks for the information, it looks very threatening to see such a vehicle on our streets imo.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #18)

Thu May 3, 2012, 02:38 PM

20. The impression my wife and I got from May Day in Los Angeles is that

 

the LAPD was there, not to protect our rights to assemble and speak freely, but instead to intimidate us and to protect the interests of the 1% at our expense.

The Democratic Party clearly wanted nothing to do with Occupy, as witnessed by the fact that not one Democratic politician was there that I am aware of.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #20)

Thu May 3, 2012, 03:33 PM

21. I think by now it is obvious who they are there to protect.

So your impression only confirms what OWS has already exposed. In NYC though, some Democrats, members of the City Council eg, have joined OWS, one even getting arrested and thrown in jail. There has been a complaint filed now by four members of the City Council in NY against the NYPD's brutal response to the protesters.

But you're right, on the whole, except for a few like Alan Grayson, Democrats have rarely stood up for the people who are essentially asking for what the Democratic Party represents in its own platform.

Worse, the mayor of Oakland eg is a Democrat. And members of her own administration, also Democrats, have quit because of her betrayal of the people. We'll see what happens when she comes up for reelection. Hopefully she will be challenged by a real Democrat.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 03:45 AM

16. K&R

Well written report!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:05 AM

22. Excellent report - thanks! K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread