Occupy LA reflections, November 17th 2011

Published online 18 Novembere 2011.

I get in around 3pm (I have a day job, and I try to prepare something for the campers out of consideration for the botched food scene at Occupy LA) and serve some pea soup which I serve at the Kid’s Tent.  I am told by a friend here that there is a protest going on at the Bank of America tower at 3rd and Hope streets.  I get there and there are more cops than protesters, including a police paddy wagon for hauling off everyone.

I come back to the camp and the man staffing  the library tent complains of hunger.  I go back to the Kid’s Tent to get him some of my pea soup and, lo and behold, he’s gone.  So I leave my pressure cooker at the library tent and venture over to the south side to see what’s going on there.

I am hearing stories of gangs punking out the Welcome Tent here at Occupy LA:  one group distracts the Welcome Tent people with some kind of agitated, abusive conversation while at the same time about thirty gang members rifle through the Welcome Tent and take everything that isn’t nailed down, including a backpack with beaucoup money in it.  And then, I am told, they punk out the Finance Team at the General Assembly for (or so their representative complains) “not taking care of their money.”

So I guess the staffers at the Welcome Tent took in a little bit of money today and gave it to the Food Tent, but beyond that they are receiving no donations whatsoever.  The news (channel seven) had a brief report of arrests at the B of A – apparently it was a relatively friendly affair, with many of the marchers being forced by police “escort” back to the main campsite.  You can camp, just nowhere important.

I am discussing this stuff with an activist at a local pizza parlor while seeing on its television screen images of the B of A protest at 3rd and Hope and of the CSU protests at Dominguez Hills and at Long Beach.  Some of the activists I’m talking about this stuff with all take it in stride.  “That’s not the worst thing that’s happened to us,” one of them tells me.   “This will just strengthen our resolve.”  I am also hearing stories of the general assembly on Tuesday, at which there were reportedly two fights, and there was this seventy-year-old woman who kept claiming she wanted the “naked truth” and started taking off her clothes.  Wednesday’s general assembly was an Open Mic.  When I am finished discussing all this, I return to the encampment to find a drum circle in full swing.

I am enjoying this dinner break, as it turns out, because the resource committee is no longer meeting at all, until further notice.  I can see that blowing up at the general assembly.  What actually happens at the general assembly (picture below) is that one of the finance team announces that the Welcome Tent is no longer taking donations “due to threats and intimidation” against the finance team and told us that the welcome tent would not be accepting donations until further notice.  However, we are told that the $14,000 that the Occupy had in its accounts was still safe and sound, contrary to lies spread by others.  None of the alleged malefactors are named; none of them appear to be there at the general assembly.

Before I leave, I retrieve my pressure cooker to find that one of the campers has stashed it inside his tent.  I ask him, “that’s my pressure cooker inside your tent.  May I have it back?” and he hands me my pressure cooker, fully cleaned.  I suppose that, even cold, my pea soup is better than nothing.  And generally I come away with a reinforced impression of how hard it is to change society.

Folks, we still have an Occupy down in Los Angeles.  I know it isn’t as much in the news as a number of the others.  It is a meaningful vehicle for social change; it also (to quote a local activist) “has issues.”  It needs your support; it needs your participation, especially as regards sorting out a lot of the nonsense that goes on at these things.

NB: Occupy Pomona (California) needs to be able to contact lawyers who will be willing to take on Occupy Pomona as a pro bono cause.  Occupy Pomona was being hassled by the police even before its first general assembly meeting.  If you have information they can use, please message me.


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