A visit to Los Angeles 12/3/11

Published online 4 December 2011.

As I came into Los Angeles on the Vignes Street exit, I encountered a protest on the opposite side of the street from the Twin Towers jail, accompanied by a huge police presence that made me wonder if arrest was on my horizon as well.  At any rate, I drove past all of that, parked my vehicle, and walked into town, accompanied by some friends.  Here is a picture of our glorious City Hall.

This is what a police state looks like.  We saw some of the Direct Action group in passing, but they were busy somewhere else.  We went to Pershing Square and hung out for awhile before realizing that nothing was going on there, and that we had to go back to City Hall to see if anything was happening on the west steps.  There was a very small group there when the corporate media rolled up, channels 5 and 9, to “interview” us.  

A moment later, the march that had received so much police attention returned from the Twin Towers area.  Some of us briefly attempted to form a human chain to block out the corporate media, but that didn’t last long because not many people were interested in the chain.

I left for the “Sister Cities” display across the street from City Hall to attend the Moderation Committee’s meeting.  The group there was interested in shaping a conversation at the general assembly which involved continuing the discussions of arrest and incarceration at the previous two meetings, but with an attempt to open the discussions to issues of privilege — race, class, gender, ability, age, and so on.

The Resources Committee meeting, held at a rather unusual location, was about four main topics: the “unincorporated association” organizational form currently in process with resources, the matter of getting a “home base” of operations for Occupy LA, the matter of meeting times and places, and a discussion about the process of spending money.  One participant brought up the matter of “how we can effectively spread a message and battle the police state,” but it wasn’t clear just yet how that was germane to the mission of the Resources Committee.

Much of the discussion of the Resources Committee revolved around a proposal for the emergency purchase of sleeping bags with around $500 of money, from an outlet that closed at 9pm.  In the end, the committee decided that emergency blankets were a better deal than sleeping bags (though they weren’t quite sleeping bags); so a combination of both sleeping bags and emergency blankets was decided upon, and the person doing the purchasing was shooed off to the store.

The discussion around the “voluntary association” setup revolved around the picking of a signatory and an agent of process.  This was then to be taken to the general assembly.

The discussion around the home base revolved around the problem of finding organizing spaces in Los Angeles.  Apparently the church “La Placita” adjacent to Olvera Street (on the other side of the 101 freeway) has been cleared by the cops.  (Please inform me if this opinion is incorrect.)

The meeting times will be at 6:30, at the Starbucks plaza, which is a block or two east of City Hall on the SE corner.

The discussion about the money-spending process was apparently pushed back because it wasn’t germane to the main spending request.  I discussed the idea of having a “How we can effectively spread a message and battle the police state” agenda item in private conversation — it was suggested to me that we have a “messages committee” though I suppose that would be the Media Committee.

I went to the general assembly after the Resources Committee meeting.  They were busy with working groups, discussing in small-group conversation the experience of being arrested and detained.  When the working groups convened in the whole-group general assembly again, much of what was discussed in small-group conversation was reported, and much was lost.  The temperature was dropping, and so I took one of my friends home at that point.

Reflections:

Since the arrests of Wednesday morning, it appears that Occupy LA is still trying to cope with the problems faced by (and psychological situation of) those of its number who were arrested and detained.  Its story has been sanitized, and so the personal stories need to come out so that Occupy is not forced into a stereotype of “hippie revolt” and thus erased, per the goals of the mainstream media.

Occupy has apparently also shrunk again, and many of its members have apparently been radicalized by the show of vicious brutality displayed by the LAPD Wednesday and yesterday.  Occupy LA still has yet to update its“donate” web page.  It is still staging plenty of actions, and scheduling more for the future.  It needs to be doing a ton of outreach, otherwise it will see more of 1300 cops to detain 200 protesters.  So I cannot say at this point that you can sit back in your chair as you read this and feel secure that a donation will solve your problems.  You need to go to the committee meetings over at Sister Cities, and to the general assemblies on the west steps of City Hall at 730pm.

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