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(en) US, Social Struggle - Afternoon With Occupy LA

Date Mon, 03 Oct 2011 12:46:27 +0200


On the first of October I drove to downtown LA to join the Occupy LA protest at city hall. I got there around 1:30 and found close to one thousand people. There seemed to be a lot of the sort of people that I would see at other protests. People from the Answer Coalition, and Revolution Books were there. There were teamsters signs, although I did not see any teamsters, and there were members of the Dockworkers Union there. I ran into the local IWW group and various young anarchists were in small grouplets wearing bandanas and seeming to be planning some direct action, the way anarchists are prone to do. I met Lisa Green from the Green Party and she said LA and San Fernando Valley chapters had come to the march that morning from Pershing Square to City Hall. She said that there had been about twice as many people earlier, which would have meant that there had been close to two thousand people at the height of the demonstration.

This group seemed distinctly younger than at most recent protests. I spoke with some people working at the Volunteer table, they said they were from the finance committee, and they were concerned with making sure that all funds gathered and expended were accounted for. But they were also not going to announce how much money they had because they did not want the authorities to know. I asked what I could do and they said go to the General Assembly at 7:30 in the evening and that if the other committees needed someone then I could ask to join. Unfortunately I would not be able to wait around all day. I had to leave after a couple of hours.

I wandered around looking at what was going on around City Hall. The demonstrators were filling up the entire west side (Main Street) and north side (Temple Street) of City Hall Park. They were also filling up the south side of the park. There I met Officer George Villegaras, who was the official liaison between the city and the protestors. He said that the park was open to the public between 6 am and 10 pm. After 10 pm the protestors would have to go home or sleep on the sidewalk as long as they didn't block passage. I had seen homeless people on San Julian Street sleeping on the sidewalk. It would be somewhat ironic that people would do the same around city hall, a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

The scene was friendly and relaxed. The police presence was limited to a few liaison officers. The people were talking, listening to poetry, dancing to congas, performing yoga exercises, or just walking around reading the signs and enjoying the hot early fall afternoon. It must have been in the upper-eighties out, and the sun was intense. I listened in on the Demands Committee as they took turns offering up their ideas. It was a group of about fifteen, a young bearded Marxist was explaining that Capitalism does not help working people but extracts wealth from them. I wondered what the political level of the final demands would be.

I got in a short dialogue with the Wobblies and an ILWU member. The ILWU guy was talking about the battle they were having up in Washington State. I mentioned that I had heard about it. I said why doesn't the ILWU shut down the entire west coast, since the dockworkers controlled the imports coming into the ports from overseas. That would get the corporate bosses to pay attention. One of the Wobblies spoke about organizing the short haul truckers. We all agreed that the protest was a good idea and needed more union representation.

The Water Corps guy was there handing out free bottles and cups of water. They normally are in the skid row area (San Julian Street), handing out water to the homeless. I walked past a hot dog push cart vendor and wondered where Food Not Bombs was. Michael Hubman, from Water Corps, said the city was making it hard to share or serve food and that Food Not Bombs was in his coalition to abolish the `safe cities initiative'. I saw a Truther handing out 911 stuff, but luckily there was only one guy, not a mob of them. There were a group of people with "V is for Vendetta" masks.

I read slogans on signs, "Power to the People," "The Revolution Will Not Be Privatized," "This is the start of the People's New World," a Teamster sign "Our Communities, Our Jobs," an Answer Coalition sign "We Work, They Profit, Dismantle Wall Street," there was a sticker "Support Zombie Banking," with a cool logo of a green and black zombie with a dollar sign. I don't know who printed it but there was a logo, an "S" with a circle around it. The sticker was big, round and also said "Greed, Selfishness, Excess, Indulgence, Gluttony" on it very cool. The best sign was the "99%" sign. As people liked to point out, we are the vast majority, the people who are suffering in this economy. The crowd was mixed racially and seemed to be attracting a new generation of young people who were concerned about the political economy and the direction of the country.

Occupy Los Angeles plans to stay at city hall for 2 weeks or more. They have medical committees and an outreach committee as well as the finance and Demands committee. They also alluded to a committee that was negotiating with the city to be able to camp on the site. I saw tents going up in the background of the Ten o'clock night news on Fox eleven.

Contact #occupyla
facebook.com/occupyla
occupyla.tumblr.com

Meanwhile some 700 people were arrested trying to block the Brooklyn Bridge today at the New York Occupy Wall Street event. There were events in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chicago and events planned in at least 36 cities.
Link to news on New York event.
http://news.yahoo.com/more-700-anti-wall-street-protestors-arrested-072521103.html
Chicago event
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-09-30/business/ct-biz-0930-bf-local-protest-20110930_1_demonstrators-willis-tower-tahrir-square
Albuquerque event
http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s2309634.shtml?cat=504
Denver event
http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=222412
San Francisco event
http://sfist.com/2011/09/29/scenes_from_san_franciscos_occupy_w.php#photo-1
Seattle event
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s44K3VZuPNQ
>From Kansas City Infozine
http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/49187/
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