(Editor’s Note: As Occupy LA grows from a spontaneous explosion of frustration at the political and economic status quo, the movement, centered in a tent city surrounding City Hall, is evolving its own unique structures and campaign strategies – as well as its critics in the media. Here is a roundup of recent events.)
Occupy LA is moving smoothly in its third week. The media tent and People’s Stage on the south lawn are solar-powered; the food tent has passed repeated L.A. County health department inspections and, perhaps most important, there have been no arrests. The Occupiers move their tents to accommodate the Thursday farmers market, but have yet to return to nightly sidewalk sleeping between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., as required by law.
Yes, the lawn looks tired and brown, but the city’s claim that it needs to be watered nightly is just plain ridiculous. The DWP conservation provisions state that sprinklers are to be used every other day, for eight minutes, so watering nightly sets a bad example for residents—shouldn’t City Hall lead by example?
That aside, Occupy LA created a lawn committee to work on solutions for replacing the grass when Occupy is over. And since no one knows when that will be, the city might was well save money by not watering! Volunteers offering to donate seeds and mulch could have the lawn back in shape in no time, but shouldn’t Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council consider installing native plants — creating a drought-resistant xeriscape?
On October 12, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution supporting Occupy LA, but delayed its vote on responsible banking until it heard back from the Budget and Finance Committee. (Six days later the council learned an affirmative vote could cost the city $58 million.) Iraq War infantry officer Lt. Dan Choi–who was fired under don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and has since re-enlisted — visited Occupy LA on Tuesday and Wednesday, when he participated in a livestream broadcast with fellow activist Arturo Sernas, before delivering a stirring speech before the protest’s General Assembly.
Thursday, Occupy LA marchers frolicked through Downtown’s October Art Walk like Pied Pipers, posing for photos and picking up crowds as they chanted, “Banks got bailed out, We got sold out!” and “We are the 99 percent!”
Thousands showed up for Saturday’s march for the Occupy Global Day of
Action, which moved from Pershing Square through the financial district and back to City Hall, where two stages of entertainment, workshops, art projects and drum circles kept visitors busy. Meanwhile, the staff of the Nickel Diner arrived with specially baked Occupy Pies—apple pop-tarts frosted with “99 percent” and peace activist Ron Kovic spoke before leading the crowd in singing “This Land Is Your Land.”
The conservative media have attempted to denigrate Occupy as consisting of dirty hippies or trustfarians, and now the latest push is trying to paint the Occupy movement as anti-Semitic, which is patently ridiculous. The Jewish Labor Committee marched Saturday, while on Sunday, and a sukkah hut was set up in observation of Sukkot. Fired LAUSD substitute teacher Patricia McAllister made some ignorant comments about Jewish bankers that were caught on video, but no one is taking her very seriously. Similarly, no one pays much heed to the conspiracy-minded LaRouche folks or the scattering of 9/11 Truthers.
Occupy LA joined with educators and others to march on Tuesday, October 16, for Occupy LAUSD, an action to protest the firing of 1,200 teachers as well as hundreds of clerks, custodians, librarians, school psychologists and nurses, despite an L.A. Unified School District memo claiming the district has a $55 million surplus!
An amazing cross-section of Los Angeles is represented at Occupy LA as people of all races and occupations have come together to share their stories and work towards finding economic solutions. General Assembly meetings, held nightly at 7:30 can be challenging but rewarding, with direct democracy in action sometimes devolving into chaos — and, at other times, showing humans in their best light.