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Chernynkaya On November - 17 - 2011

 

I actually got up early and took the train to Downtown L.A. for the 7:00am march. I was undecided until 6:00am when I plannned to catch the Metrorail from Long Beach. The reason I was on the fence about it was that this march—part of the nationwide action—was going to block a very busy intersection. I am a native Angelino; it must be in my DNA that interfering with traffic is a cardinal sin. We are a city obsessed with traffic and I know how irate I get at the slightest delay. This march was to end right next to the freeway where thousands of cars take an off-ramp to the busiest part of Downtown—the financial district. I wondered if it wasn’t a bad idea to royally piss off all those commuters. I could hear them curse and mutter, “Those damn protesters!” But protests are inconvenient by nature. One day of annoyance seems worth it, considering the much larger stakes. (I’m sorry, my dear fellow Angelinos! I love you, but this is for you too.)

In typical L.A. style, they’d already issued a Traffic Alert the day before and most beleaguered drivers were re-routed by CalTrans, and the police were ready to do traffic duty. Let me stop here and praise the LAPD. They are a relaxed bunch. Here is a picture of one of our cops—note the shorts he’s wearing. Some riot gear, huh? The cops who wear shorts are the ones on bicycles—the least intimidating kind!

Yes, he’s arresting someone—more about that in a bit.

Just getting to the march, I was reminded of one reason I’m glad I went. As I said, I took the train. The route from where I live in the southernmost part of L.A. County goes through the poorest parts of the area; areas where I was literally the only white person on the train. Most of my fellow travelers were Latino women who were probably bound for work in some sweatshop downtown or for work as maids. The Black men looked rough. And there were kids too on their way to school. The people who were reading on the commute were all reading bibles and the rest of us either looked out the windows or had earbuds on. Unless one takes this train, we never see these areas from the freeway. I am pretty sure none of these people had any idea that there was a protest about happen, but that’s OK. They are busy trying to get by as the poorest of the 99%. No one bothered to ask why I had a piece of cardboard that said: Occupy the Streets and then the Voting Booths! On this particular train, no one looks at anyone else.

But don’t get me wrong, there were LOTS of people of color at the march! Maybe half. And a particularly large Latino presence:

I’m terrible at estimating crowd size, but there were anywhere from several hundred to about a thousand marchers there. Honestly, that depresses me for a city this size. There should have been thousands here. But L.A. Really lives up to its stereotype of being too laid-back. It must be the air and the palm trees, or maybe the smog. It was a beautiful day for a protest though! One of the things that has struck me every time I go to OWS-LA is the cheerful atmosphere. I was happy to be there, even though the point of these protests is a very unhappy state of affairs. It seems incongruous at first, and is certainly not at all like the outrages which took place in many other cities. But even in NY and Oakland and elsewhere there has been criticism of the party-like atmosphere of the Occupations. Here’s my take: It feels GREAT to be part of something like this! It is energizing and it makes people feel good. There is a heartwarming sense of camaraderie and solidarity. So even while this is serious business, very serious business, it is the opposite of demoralizing and depressing. The anger comes when the police act stupid; when rights are infringed upon. And there is a definite sense of outrage at all that has gone wrong in our country, at the injustice. We can carry both feelings at the same time. I have a feeling that the mood of the crowd at Tarir Square was not so different: Determination AND jubilation. It just feels good to wake up and do something.

These are not my photos. I can’t walk and take pictures at the same time—and definitely not while carrying a sign.

 

Hardly an overwhelming police presence! And again, they’re on bikes.

 

Here is some video from our local news, but it’s only a few seconds of coverage. Most of the coverage is of the “sexier” protests in NY and Oakland:

http://www.ktla.com/videobeta/?watchId=35d76c48-ee6a-485b-9a6b-759eff9fb615

One thing KTLA got right is the contrast. Because our mayor and City Council support the movement, it’s not really exciting and not so newsworthy. This is SO L.A.! It’s all cool, man. I don’t know how I feel about that. I am of course glad for the support and the non-violence, but it’s sad that “if it bleeds, it leads.” We have to figure out how to make an impact without all the arrests and any violence.

These are the protesters who got arrested, and they expected to:

You can’t put tents in an intersection! But they knew that and wanted to make some point that escaped me. I guess to get some publicity for the movement—which is very hard in jaded L.A.–but not something I agreed with. Most of us (all but a few dozen) left. Since I came home, the news is reporting that 23 people were arrested.

Here’s the local Fox news report. It’s actually one of the best, but the Fox reporter is obviously an idiot. The unions and MoveOn were very involved. Again, I think it shows how sanguine everybody was:

http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/local/occupy-la-other-groups-stage-march-20111117#

Here is a good (3 minute) overview video of the Occupy L.A. Movement by NBC News Los Angeles:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Occupy-LA-Downtown-LA-Protest-March-134032333.html

This march was organized by Good Jobs L.A., and Occupy L.A. One of the most regular chants was, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”

The march was aimed at calling on Congress to hold Wall Street accountable for fixing the nation’s economy and forcing corporations and banks to pay a larger share of taxes and invest in communities to create jobs.

Another march is scheduled to begin around noon in the Civic Center area, but I’m too old and tired to stick around.

 

Categories: Speakers' Corner

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

45 Responses so far.

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  1. Chernynkaya says:

    LAPD has closed practically the entire Downtown area in preparation to remove Occupy LA--freeway off ramps are closed as well as most streets. They have allowed only selected journalists into the area.

    27 buses are arriving from Dodger Stadium, where they will process the arrests.

    I have really mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the City has been very accommodating and offered them space elsewhere. On the other hand, it’s not a homeless camp, it’s a protest. On the third hand, this may force the group to formulate4 next steps.

    Here’s a livestream:
    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/OWSLosAngeles

    • SallyT says:

      Cher, I don’t know either about this action. I just watched on PBS the raid on the protest camps of the WWI Vets wanting their bonus earlier then 1945 during the Hoover Admin. Their argument also was that it wasn’t a homeless camp but a protest. Of course there were homeless then, too, but not at those camps in WashDC. Thank goodness we don’t have Gen. Macarthur who Hoover called in to remove them. He was a real AHole! History just keeps on repeating itself. Hoover felt out of sight, out of mind. I think this is the main purpose towards this movement, too.

  2. PatsyT says:

    Thanks Cher! Great job!


    • Just superb Patsy. I am one of those that thought and still thinks that Kennedy was a great man. Truth echos throughout the ages like the human microphones at the OWS protests. From person to person year to year. Thanks for posting this.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Patsy, that is such a powerful video! It’s heartbreaking and also makes me want us so badly to keep on fighting! Thanks for posting that. You really know how to find ’em!

  3. SallyT says:

    Hey guys, look at all this “young” people getting arrested here in Portland!
    25 arrested at the Steel Bridge today….average 50!

    http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2011/11/17/elders-have-spoken-with-their-bodies/

  4. Emerald1943 says:

    Cher, I do envy you! That was a great report! You really gave us a feel for it.

    I really like the bicycle cop in shorts…how laid back can you get?? He didn’t even look stressed as he cuffed that guy! :-)

  5. AdLib says:

    Fantastic job, Cher! First rate report!

    Just to mitigate a little of the disappointment at the turnout in LA, anyone with kids wouldn’t be able to make the protest at 7am and get their kids to school at 8am. And with traffic clogged up to downtown, that also could account for some who didn’t or couldn’t make it.

    NYC, being as compact and walkable as it is and with subways going everywhere, is more conducive for an early morning downtown protest.

    That said, you are my hero! Thank you for attending and providing the first hand report.

    I’m sure all of OWS, along with us, are very happy that Occupy LA is not as “sexy” to the MSM because the Mayor and City Council are supportive. Which actually is a great argument for OWS beefing up its presence here during the winter when NYC will be a tough place to protest.

    I know what you’re talking about, the positive feelings and purpose that emanates from the OWS LA protest site, these are genuinely conscientious people who are acting on genuine morals and ethics. There is an openness and determination that is contagious.

    I just wrote a pretty tough piece about mayors and PDs in various American cities being “owned” by the 1% but you are so right about the LAPD, they have been so professional and relaxed during the whole protest, it’s such an antidote to some of what we’ve been seeing across the country.

    The main issue is, they have to follow their orders and when they have a mayor and police chief who are not inclined to attack their citizens, that makes life better for cops and citizens.

    In the case of NYC, Oakland, Denver, etc., there are no doubt police who are just fine with gassing “those hippies” but there would have to be some who participate because it is their job to follow orders, even if they’re not happy about it.

    I think Angelenos have been pretty affirmative towards our Mayor and City Council for their support of OWS. We of course have a big banking and business community here in LA but it’s good to see that they don’t have greater pull in our local government than the majority of citizens.

    Once again, thanks so much for your great report!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Gosh, AdLib, you are right about the timing of the march making greater participation prohibitive. See how bubbled we can get? No little kids and I don’t have a job, so all those issues didn’t occur to me. Thanks for the reality check!!

      While LAPD had been great so far, they don’t really have a good reputation. If the protests were against Eli Broad or any other big developer--or against beach access in Malibu-- just watch how fast Villaraigosa would turn feral--as your terrific post on the other part of the Planet so wonderfully points out! Our city isn’t bought and paid for by the banks so much, but the developers, well, they’re another story.

      But I wanted to make the point that when Mayors are smart, and let the protesters be, they get less news coverage and could become forgotten. It really points out how the powers that be never ever learn. That’s to our big advantage!

  6. Khirad says:

    So, hold on, you don’t find this intimidating?

    [img]http://tvscreener.com/wp-content/uploads/yapb_cache/tom_lennon_jim_dangle_reno_911.3i71g0t46ias0okg8s8kgk00.4seibt8chw6ck04c0484s0wk4.th.jpeg[/img]

  7. escribacat says:

    Great report, Cher. I’m really glad to see things aren’t getting violent there and that both sides seem to want to keep things peaceful. I still get surprised when you talk about those trains. Wow. If they’d had those when I lived there, maybe I would have ventured around the city more. The driving was such a nightmare though — I just stuck in my little neighborhood mostly.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      E’cat, I am still surprised by our MetroRail system, small as it is. It really covers about a hundred miles or more, but you know how spread out LA is so it’s never enough. But I love it. We plan on taking the train to Pasadena this weekend, just to explore the stops. From Long Beach to Pasadena is about 45 miles--for $5 round-trip and as many transfers as you want.

  8. SallyT says:

    Hey, Cher, I thought I saw you in that first picture! Seriously, I love that you went. I really thought about going to ours here in Portland but of course it is raining and my body cannot take being cold and wet. (well, it doesn’t feel it while it is happening but it will for days after). So, I will just channel you. You have my respect! Love ya, gal!

    • Khirad says:

      I thought about going in Tucson, but it’s kinda weird. I mean I’ll do a march, but there’s really not much to occupy here. They were kicked out a while ago of the original park and are now camped in a place that’s smaller but makes more sense, across from the county courthouse. But there’s just not much of a downtown, not to mention any kind of financial or commercial sector to protest. I deeply appreciate everyone out there, but symbolism still counts for something and we don’t have much, nor much of a camp left. I think it’s great this spread everywhere visibly, but for smaller cities, I certainly think a new phase is needed.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I hear you, Khirad. I get emails all the time for protests in Occupy Long Beach, but it seems to me to take away from the impact of the larger Downtown LA protests. A bunch of smaller protests of 100 or less people feels ineffective.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Sally, you know what? You made me look! And I do see what looks like me in the front there, but I was further back, so it can’t be me.

      Let me tell you, even on a sunny day, I am almost too out of shape for these marches. It wasn’t even the march so much as the long UPHILL walk from the train station. Thanks for your support!!

  9. Khirad says:

    Alright, now those are some drummers I can support. No more of this bongo and djembe crap. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. Bring out the heavy artillery at least. Oh, and a drum major to teach everyone how to march. We’ll herd these cats yet. 😉

    One thing KTLA got right is the contrast. Because our mayor and City Council support the movement, it’s not really exciting and not so newsworthy. This is SO L.A.! It’s all cool, man.

    A note of caution, Portland’s mayor was also a big supporter, and still claims to be ‘in spirit’. It’s all cool man also a city value lax on pot-smoking, public nudity and omnipresent street performers (sometimes all at once, I imagine). But apparently OWS was too much. Then the usual ubiquitous bike cop or cop on horse was replaced with bussed in riot gear cops.

    One thing LA has going for it I think is that there are at any moment probably so many more pressing things for the city to deal with than harmless protesters. I might say the same about NYC, but I think that was different just in the nature of the concentrated way NYC is set up to the way LA is--and Bloomberg seemed to be way less apologetic than Portland’s mayor was.

    • KQuark says:

      It always amazes me how much the “nonconformists” conform to their chosen social cliques.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Khirad, the laid-backness or lack of thereof comes from the top down. LA has a really cool mayor! Bloomberg, OTOH, is an anal-retentive asshat billionaire! You could only expect that his police department would act that way too!

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Khirad, I have to agree with you about the drums!! I played snare and tympani in school with the orchestra and the marching band…the most fun I ever had! We had a rather large band, about 150 strong, and traveled quite a bit, including marching in the Orange Bowl parade in Florida. Bongos just don’t cut it IMO!

    • SallyT says:

      Mayor Adams, Portland’s, is not running again. He can say just about anything. But he got pressured by the conservatives in our Chamber of Commerce to get them out of the downtown. Adams got upset with the protesters because he is “liberal” and couldn’t understand while they were causing him problems. He went over-board with the police and bringing Salem’s in, too. That may have been more of the police chief, tho. He is thinking about running for mayor.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Good point Khirad--about the Mayors AND the drumming. But Villraigosa is untrustworthy. OWS_LA is always worried about eviction. As far as more problems to deal with here in LA, I think it’s more of a question of more distractions--after all, right now the LA Auto Show is happening just blocks from the march, and let’s get our priorities straight! There are tens of thousands at the LA Convention Center to see shiny new objects. And Demi and Ashton are divorcing!

  10. SueInCa says:

    Dylan Ratigan gave your march a few seconds just now and good for you to go down and participate.

    Dylan is so single minded. He does not understand that Occupy DC is there to go after Congress and other politicians


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