Yesterday, as part of the nation-wide and world-wide Occupy Wall Street movement, my own Los Angeles ramped up it’s demonstration. Unfortunately, we got to the event later than planned as my husband had to work in the morning. But here is a video posted by some wonderful soul who get there on time.
To be honest, I couldn’t tell how large the demonstration was yesterday, but judging from the video, it looks as if it’s grown. Actually I wish it had been bigger for such a huge city. (We are the second largest city in the United States after NY.) I can’t understand why it isn’t gigantic, but this post from Cal State L.A. professor Louis Esparza partially explains it:
The majority of my students at Cal State, Los Angeles had not heard of the Occupy movement before I projected the Wall Street feed live into the classroom alongside my lecture on State Theory. There is something eerie about lecturing on revolutions alongside live images of white shirts beating on decent people. The streets of Manhattan have never looked at once so familiar and so foreign.
There are real grievances: the bailouts, Wall Street excess, abuses from banks, the lack of jobs, and so on. There are many ideas about what has sparked this outburst now: an SEIU lecture, the Zapatistas, the Spanish Indignados, Adbusters, anonymous, alter-globalization protesters, the Tea Party, and so on.
Decades of social movement scholarship has failed to answer the question of why movements happen when they do, though I do not see an end anytime soon to people trying to answer the question. The more interesting question, however, is how do we get from where we are today to where this movement wants us to go?
His post is worth the read, but that first line struck me, and made me remember how most people have no clue what the hell is happening in their own lives, let alone the world; which makes it all the more miraculous that this movement–without any help from the MSM–has taken off like wildfire.
As you probably know, L.A. County is incredibly spread out: 4,752.32 square miles. That’s a big distance but thanks to our fairly new MetroRail system, we made it from Long Beach way in the south to City Hall in 40 minutes, for five bucks round trip. We met our AdLib and his wonderful family there and they came from the opposite direction in the San Fernando Valley and told us that via MetroRail they made it in 15 minutes. So the distance is really no excuse. I hope that as the movement becomes more visible more people will join up.
The mood was a mellow as any stereotype of L.A. and represented most of us. Here are some pictures my husband took. Hope you get a feel for it:
Cher, it was such a joy to see you yesterday and have a Planetary presence at the Occupy LA protest!
We came later and missed the main march so the video you posted was fantastic and amazing, thanks for that! Love your photos (send my props to the Hubster too).
As the piece you quoted expressed, there are indeed legitimate grievances that the majority of Americans have, directly connected to corporate greed and dominance. The problem for some of those Americans is that they have been successfully manipulated by those corporations through their Astroturf Bagger movement and their political party and network to blame the wrong people.
The Orwellian BS is, “You were robbed by a mugger? Then you shoulod be mad at the police for not stopping the mugger, not the mugger! They let this happen to you!” And enough people who are more easily manipulated by their emotions instead of logic jump on board that Lemming Express.
Meanwhile, the majority of Americans are supporting and many are participating in this coming together of those with valid grievances and no government capable of addressing them. So, recognizing that we can’t depend on a corporate and corrupt system of government to address our problems, we first come together to acknowledge that it’s up to us now.
The next step will be formulating the specific steps we want taken but this movement is not going to be dictated to by the MSM or the GOP or the Pundits on the Left or the Right. It will come in due time just as the start of OWS came in due time (I mean we were robbed by Wall Street in 2008 and despite scattered protests then and since, it did take some time and a worsening of things to finally bring this to fruition).
I know the MSM would like to label this movement as failed because it is not providing it with what it wants in its ADD addled mind but that’s their problem. Enough of America knows about it now and the MSM is not what started or grew this movement, it is the social networking just like Egypt. And that is growing exponentially.
Just as we can already look back at our Uncloaking the Kochs protest as having made a meaningful difference (most know very well who they are today!), I think that by doing all we can do at this point to support the OWS protests and movement will be something we will also look back on in the near future as being a worthy investment of ourselves.
Cheers to you and Hubby, to CL and to all our Planet folks here who are supporting this movement however they can, working to empower the people again, restore true democracy in this nation and bring economic justice back to our society.
I absolutely love your mugger analogy! And it was indeed a very special treat to see you and your beautiful family there. I like to think we “represent” our home Planet–just as they represent when they attend protests in their home towns. We are quite the activist community, for which I am grateful to you, KQ and Kalima!
Cher/AdLib: if the conservatives ruined the word “right, Rush ruined “ditto” but I too am thankful to be here and include YOU as well!
Foodchain– DITTO, my friend!! 😀
I studied social movements and social change in grad school. So with my years of expert study behind me, I approach your question: how and why do they happen?
Scholarly answer: who the hell knows? Why did this catch on when US Uncut did not quite make it? Or did it – was that the impetus? Was it Wisconsin, Ohio – what? At any rate ALL that has come together. And that is very fine.
I think US Uncut, Uncloaking the Kochs, the WI and OH protests and many other actions all helped put the consciousness out there and the OWS’ success possible.
I would just add that the lack of being an organization and the simple desire to replicate what happened in Egypt, made it very appealing to the college-age social networking crowd in a way that an organized group run conventionally to protest for particular demands may not have.
The organic impetus of this, decentralized organization (or just plain inchoate structure) and social networking has fairly strong parallels. In fact, that is it’s strength.
Hi CL! I hope you are well!
Yesterday, there was a discussion about where this movement is going…I believe it was Fareed Zakaria on his Sunday talk show. The point was made that no one can tell. Not even the original organizers who first occupied Zuccotti Park can make any predictions.
I was very frustrated back during the Health Care debates that Americans did not get up off that comfy sofa and let Washington know what they wanted. (That was the same time that the Teabaggers were marching in DC with their hateful signs.) For some reason, most people were not sufficiently alarmed about their future health care and what it would cost. I surmised that until the crisis hitting this country impacted the average citizen, we would not see anyone taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks.
I went to the “We Are the 99%” website and read many of the stories there. There were two issues that were repeated over and over…joblessness and home foreclosures. These two problems are something that EVERY American can relate to. Either we know someone who has lost their job and possibly their home, or it has happened to us personally. It is something each of us can relate to. The crisis has finally reached that average American, dipping into the already empty pockets of the people who are expected to continue to pay the outlandish fees of the big financial institutions that are robbing us blind! When it finally was reported that many of the foreclosures were done illegally, the tipping point was reached.
Why did this movement catch on? The answer is simple…pain. The people are hurting, young and old, and we can no longer count on our bought-and-paid-for government to help. That is the bottom line. Social networking played a huge part for sure, taking the place of the corporate-run MSM in disseminating information. A great example was set by the protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio, showing that the people can effect change if they stand together and protest peacefully…all great facilitators and role models. But the bottom line is the pain that people are feeling right now.
Far be it from me to attempt to predict the outcome. I am hopeful that the movement will not peter out as the weather turns colder. I also hope that the progressives in Congress will take political advantage of the energy on the streets. I understand the protesters’ blaming both political parties…rightfully so. But at some point, as you have written, these protests must be accompanied by changes in the law! The only politicians that could possibly be counted on to bring those changes would be the progressives. It’s for damned sure the rethugs will not do it.
Sorry about getting on such a roll this morning! I guess I am looking at this from a little different perspective…the actual human toll that has become too apparent. I cannot imagine losing my home. That is a pain that no American should have to face!
And BTW, it was just reported on MSNBC that Wall Street donors have given more money to Mitt Romney than to the President. Duh!!
The American voters had better wake up if they want any chance of seeing this country regain its sanity!
Em, I don’t think a lot of young people followed the health care debate. When I was in my 20s, I never thought about whether or not I had health care coverage. Even when I was a contractor and had no coverage, it wasn’t an issue I thought about much.
Hey e’cat! I know…I don’t think they followed it either. Let’s face it. It was a long and ugly battle to get what we got. Lots of people, not just the young people, tuned it out.
Ah, the invulnerability of the young! I would that I could go back to those times! 🙂
CL, as you say, who really understands why these movements erupt? I do think they build on each other and it actually doesn’t completely surprise me that it takes so long after things get bad for people to take action. Today I heard that United Teachers LA is joining OWS-LA for a march tomorrow and then they are going to Occupy the LA County dept of ed. That’s what we said: once there is a main movement, specific and related protests spring up and make specific demands. It’s working out great!
I’ve wondered how hilarious it would be to bring my marching snare drum to one of these drum circle things.
But that’s something dickish a Republican would do. 😆
I’ve been thinking about the snare drum, and you know? I think it would be a hit! I really do. Maybe not in a drum circle–although it might be–but I think it would be awesome, actually.
I was in town for a gig Saturday (turned out to get my times mixed up), and I was there with it and in my kilt and I almost joined them when I saw them, but decided to be responsible instead. Too bad most of my band is conservative, it’d be awesome to add pipes like they did in Madison.
I love those drum circles. Did you watch the youtubes on the blog that Q posted the other day? Really excellent music and drumming.
I missed it. In fact, I’ve missed almost everything before Saturday the past two weeks.
Excellent drumming in a drum circle would indeed a novelty to see. 😛
A Bagger would be drumming on a saxophone.
Cher, great pics and feel of Occupy LA.
The best explanation I’ve heard about why people are attending is that people are angry and afraid. It’s the closest we’ve come to the protests that the Vietnam experience, draft induced, of families being afraid for their sons, wives for their husbands, lovers of their future. The economic collapse, unemployment, coupled with outrageous arrogance has created a flashpoint.
Intersting article, Food. I had no idea! But now I understand better why that stupid Reuters article–which claimed falsely that Soros was behind OWS–connected the dots with Adbusters. BTW–Reuters recanted. I’m very glad you enjoyed the pix–I showed my husband you comment!
That’s likely Foodchain, no one can say with absolute certainty that they know why and there are likely different motivations for different people. Surely, fear and anger are at the root of all of the specifics though.
Drilling down though, I think that the Baggers in Congress displaying that they are willing to destroy our country and economy rather than obey the will of the people and the desperate situation so many people are faced with in the present and the future, have led people to realize that government can no longer be relied on to solve their problems.
It’s become clear that we can’t sit back and wait for government to fix the deteriorating society and democracy we find ourselves in. So, we see others validating the idea of coming together to take power back and we are encouraged to join them.
Fear and anger is behind all of it but unlike the hapless baggers, the Occupy Movement isn’t driven by those emotions, it’s powered by them but it’s driven by principle.
This is a little OT but I sure envy you that metro rail. There was no such thing when I lived in LA and many of my memories of that period of my life involve sitting on the freeway. And the Denver metro area has only a feeble system that doesn’t extend north where I live. Colorado is so backward when it comes to public transportation nowadays, although we had a very nice cable system a hundred years ago before the auto and oil men came in and ripped them up.
E’Cat–oh boy, now you got me started! It’s not really OT to me because to me MetroRail should serve to unite more of us in this vast area. We wish it were more extensive and it still doesn’t go among the more widely traveled areas–such as along Wilshire Blvd from Downtown to the beach, or even to the LA airport. But those routes are planned and we got some stimulus funds to help. As you can imagine, it’s monumentally expensive. Also, it should run 24 hours but I think it stops at 2am on weekends.
Right now, it is still a mostly undiscovered gem–except among the poor and working class who use it extensively. It takes you straight to the front door of where the Lakers play, right to the heart of downtown, right to the heart of Hollywood–I take it almost all the time I go to those places because of parking alone. I think Angelinos aren’t used to public transportation yet, but as gas prices rise and as the routes get more extensive, I bet these light rails will become more and more popular here.
BTW most of the stations are designed to reflect the history of each stop–which I think is so cool. For example, this above-ground one is the Chinatown station:
Portland does that on a smaller scale (don’t laugh that it has a Chinatown, where do you think the term ‘to shanghai’ comes from?). Indeed, way cool.
Khirad, I like Portland–want to move there, and I know it has a Chinatown. What place doesn’t? 😉
I didn’t think I could hold you in higher esteem Cher, but that you like Stumptown (you’re gonna have to learn the lingo), has warmed my soggy PDX-loving heart.
Oddly enough, Portlandia would be your best friend in getting adjusted. It’s funny because it’s true. Though time spent in San Francisco will count for a lot.
Sacramento has a Chinabuilding. I’m not kidding. One building. Chinese settlement was entirely TOWNS out the delta and up into the Gold Country. But Sacramento? Nothing but one – modern – building. Now Asian communities – Hmong, Vietnamese, etc. – are being created, but Sacramento proper? One building.
Do you mean again? 😉
Yep! AGAIN! The auto industry, Henry Huntington and the Chandlers destroyed our Red Line. They deliberately designed LA to be for the car. But that was before most of us were born, so hardly anyone knows about that.
Cher,That’s exactly what happened in Denver. They ripped up the cable tracks and the result was if you didn’t have a car you were stuck! And it’s still that way here a hundred years later.
Great that you participated and thanks for the photos:
This is the LiveStream of Occupy LA and they have been showing some reruns from previous days.
You can see many steams from around the world at:
Oooh–tres cool, bito!
The Great Dictator, Chaplan’s crowning achievement.
“Become an internationalist and learn to respect all life. Make war on machines. And in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them.”
Excellent photos, Cher.
I think if the movement continues to grow that more and more people will join in the protests.
And the more the elitists and naysayers disparage the protesters and the politicians keep pushing tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor and working class, the movement will blossom and bloom.
This feels like the beginning of something big and it’s all very exciting.
Thank goodness that something is finally happening!
There is hope.
Thanks, javaz– and I couldn’t agree more! Remember the protests in the 60’s? (You were too young but I bet you remember them second hand.)It took years for things to change–to get out of Vietnam and for Civil Rights legislation to be enacted. It took protests like these over and over, spanning at least 4-5 years as I recall. I think that even as these particular Occupations maybe dwindle, others will take their place. The genie is out of the bottle!
Actually, I vividly remember the protests of the ’60s!
Quite the memory since I just turned 29 last month!
HAH! Pre-natal visions!