2011 actually started on December 17, 2010 although none of us knew it at the time. On that provident day a fruit peddler in Tunisia decided that he was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. In the year since then, his sentiment has been echoed by millions around the globe in the greatest show of people power that we have seen in more than 40 years.
Mohamed Bouazizi, who could find no other work and took to selling fruits and vegetables, had grown tired of the police harassment. When his complaints to city hall went unanswered, he doused himself with gasoline and lit a fire that is blazing still.
Had his act of defiance happened in any earlier epoch, it most likely would have gained little notice outside of word of mouth, but we now live in an age when word of mouth spans the globe. We have the technology, even in North Africa.
So news of his defiance spread throughout Tunisia in a flash and the people rose up to demand justice from the government. Then, via WikiLeaks, the Tunisian people found out just how corrupt their government really was and started to demand an end to the 20 year rule of Ben Ali. When they did this, their struggle took a revolutionary turn.
Mayor Villaraigosa & Police Chief Charlie Beck announced today at a afternoon press conference that the LAPD would forcefully throw Occupy Los Angeles off of the park areas surrounding Los Angeles City Hall Monday, November 28th at 12:01am. This move is being made although there have been no major incidents to marred the record of 56 consecutive days of peaceful protests at City Hall since the encampment first started on October 1st.
It is being done in spite of the vote by City Council in October to:
ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles"
At the time City Council President Eric Garcetti told the campers on the city hall front lawn "Stay as long as you need, we're here to support you," Now it would seem that the city's tune has changed.
To it's credit both the City of LA and the LAPD have taken a decidedly different approach to the occupy movement compared with other major cities, including New York, Chicago, Oakland and Portland where the movement was faced with eviction and police violence almost from the beginning of those encampments. Until now, the City of Los Angeles has allowed the encampment at city hall to establish itself and to grow with a minimum of police and city interference.
I just got out of jail a few hours ago. I was one of 300 people arrested Thursday in Occupy Wall St. protests across the United States. In Los Angeles, a total of 67 people were arrested from Occupy Los Angeles, SEIU and Good Jobs LA which combined forces for two back-to-back protests, both of which had as there centerpieces acts of civil disobedience that brought important sections of downtown to a complete standstill as the biggest occupation in the nation took to the streets.
The first was a march that started at 7:00am to the 4th St. bridge, that brought Figueroa Ave, which at 30 miles, is the longest street in LA, to a complete standstill in the middle of the morning rush hour. This also pretty much shutdown freeway access to downtown, Figueroa is that important. 23 protesters, mostly SEIU members, were arrested in a very orderly, non-violent fashion after the protesters set up tents in the street.
Let me say at the outset that from what I have seen of the occupation movement, it has becomes so dynamic, so energized and been met with such wide support among the people that nothing can defeat it if it doesn't defeat itself.
However I fear that it is on the verge of doing just that. There is big trouble in the Hard Block Cafe!
The Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly split into dueling factions Wednesday evening as a large number of occupiers who felt alienated by the highly structured, long and boring, but largely irrelevant GA , came in and took over the mike, overthrew the process, and made it an open mike session. The GA had been led by a facilitation committee that was far more concerned with process than content. This is a facilitation committee lead by a new core group. The original core group of facilitators that used the process to create Occupy Los Angeles have moved on to other areas. This may be "billed" as a leaderless movement but not only is there something to be said for leadership, there are a lot of advantages to consistent leadership, IMHO.
The original Wednesday GA started on the south side of city hall with the solar stage. After it was overthrown, the facilitators, for a while, reconvened their GA on north stairs before returning to the open mike crowd on the south stairs in the spirit of unity.
That there was a split at all is a sign of the deep divisions and serious problems that have cropped up at Occupy Los Angeles. About the same time this was going on, diagonally across First & Main from city hall in the LA Times building, they were posting this to their website:
Even in Los Angeles, where city leaders have greeted the demonstrators warmly, there are signs of protest fatigue and increasing anxiety about what happens next.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who earlier this month had ponchos distributed to rain-soaked Occupy L.A. protesters, said Wednesday that the encampment next to City Hall "cannot continue indefinitely."
Villaraigosa has instructed city officials to draft a plan for another location for the demonstration. He decided the camp could not stay after Los Angeles County health inspectors expressed worries about the cleanliness of the camp, and because of concerns about the condition of the lawn and trees.
Saurday was the biggest day yet at Occupy Los Angeles as it began its third week. Around noon, between 10,000 – 15,000 people, according to official LAPD estimates, marched from Pershing Sq. through the financial district and then to the occupation site at city hall. With so many protesters, the police closed the streets for the march, which was very spirited with people from all over Southern California and what is more important a mix of people that was incredibly representative of South California. As this is not radio, I will let the 14 pictures in the slideshow below the fold speak for themselves.
The march ended at Occupy Los Angeles which now involves over 300 tents occupying almost of the grassy areas around city hall. Thousand of people stayed around for the celebration, dancing music, committee meetings, film screenings, yoga and more.
As city hall is closed on Saturday, we had the run of the place. The north, west and south stairs operated as three stages all afternoon and into the night. For the afternoon, Spring St. on the west side of city hall was blocked off to traffic so that people could rally there. A portable stage and sound system was set up in the middle of the street and that was the main forum for post march speakers and musicians.
Contradicting the trend in New York, Boston, Washington, DC and other cities where the growing occupation movement has been met by official hostility and police violence, today, on the twelfth day of the people's encampment at Los Angeles city hall in opposition to the domination of the big banks and in support of Occupy Wall St., the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution to promote responsible banking by the City of Los Angeles and in support of Occupy Los Angeles.
The resolution with the title "First Amendment Rights / Occupy Los Angeles / Responsible Banking Measure" was sponsored by Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl and was seconded by five other councilpersons, virtually assuring it of passage.
The agenda item for this read as follows:
CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION (ALARCON - ROSENDAHL - ET AL.) relative to the City's position to support the First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles” and addressing concerns regarding the Responsible Banking measure.
Recommendation for Council action, SUBJECT TO THE CONCURRENCE OF THE MAYOR: ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles" and URGE the City Departments responsible for completing the implementation plan associated with the Responsible Banking measure (Council file No. 09-0234) that was approved by the Council on March 5, 2010, which would address some of the concerns of the "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators by demanding accountability and results from the Banks we invest taxpayer dollars in, to bring the Responsible Banking measure for a final vote to the Council by October 28, 2011
After dozens of public comments by members of Occupy LA including me and other citizens, the endorsement of many City Counclpersons, and the haggling over the date for the final vote on the banking measure, the council passed the resolution by a vote of 11 to 0 with a couple members abstaining.
Friday was the tenth anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan and in the morning the Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice led a big march against the war endorsed by almost fifty progressive organizations in Southern California, including VFP, PDA, ANSWER, NLG, AFL-CIO, & Code Pink. ICUPJ was formed right after 9/11/01 and is just about as old as the war.
The demands of the march were to stop the wars and fund jobs. They asked that all troops and private contractors be removed from Iraq and Afghanistan this year, that torture be stopped both at home and abroad and they called for an end to drone attacks targeting civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere.
It never rains in Southern California but it is raining today, another test for Occupy Los Angeles. It rained off and on all night and is expected to be rainy for the next few days with tomorrow being the worst. It should be clearing up about the same time the permit for amplified sound and full use of the city hall park comes into effect. Also by then, the film shoot on the larger south lawn will be over and they can move back there. That will be good. They need the space, protesters keep arriving and Occupy LA is already outgrowing the smaller north lawn. Soon they will need both.
The whole occupation movement is growing here in Southern California as it is elsewhere. Visitors from the new Occupy Orange County came here yesterday, as did some people planning Occupy Longbeach and at noon today, students walked out of classes to begin Occupy USC.
Rain is promised later in the week but today is a another beautiful Southern California day. Today should be especially interesting because it is the first regular week day for Occupy Los Angeles. City hall will be working, downtown will be bustling and the banks will be open.
The trial of Micheal Jackson's doctor also resumes today with all the international media coverage that befits a Hollywood show trial. Satellite trucks are parked all up and down the street just a few blocks from city hall and Monday's first action, at 6:00am was a march and rally in front of the courthouse. It was very effective. The Occupy Los Angeles story stole the lead from Jackson in the local morning news cycle.