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