Day 6 Occupy LA observations

Published online 6 October 2011.

2:49pm It’s now bright and sunny and I am in Los Angeles.  I am speaking with “Anonymous,” who is a 36-year old nurse at the media tent.  Anonymous says:

“I think the main lesson to be learned here is that love is more powerful than greed. We are not using money as currency down here, the community is donating to the cause. We have food, clothes, blankets, wifi…and it’s all been donated by people who support the cause. The message is that we are all brothers and sisters. We are the 99%. I think the main thing people at home can do to effect the movement is to take their money out of banks and transfer it to credit unions. The federal Reserve has no business in government.”  Anonymous says that this place is an example of how a community can survive by reaching out to each other.  Anonymous had some very impressive video of Occupy Houston, with lots of people protesting loudly in close quarters.

2:53 I am at the tent city on the north side of City Hall, in the tent city. There are a number of tents (with specialty tents in between) and people milling about.  The librarian is being filmed.  I had a short talk with the librarian.  There are fire truck and emergency sirens wailing in the street nearby, and people honking their horns as they pass by the encampment. The Internet is free-flowing here.  A woman is talking to another woman with a tape-recorder about how other organizations are being invited to Occupy LA.

3:05  Now I am at the south side of the block.  The protesters are now lodged on the north side.  There are impromptu restaurants here.  Capitalist business.

3:17 There is a declaration of occupation “for people who are trying to figure out what this is and what it’s about.”  I am at the donation tent right now.  The people behind the table are talking with what are apparently newer participants.  The table says “Action –3:30, steps.”

Kim the librarian (over at the library tent) is talking with a KPFK producer (Alan Minsky) about her career and about the show KPFK will run from 4 to 6pm.  I gave him my card.

3:26 I am talking with the donations committee about their needs list.  Annie says that Occupy LA needs:

“tents, sleeping mats, clean blankets, that’s for bedding and then socks, shirts, pants,lots of socks, underwear, tarps, tent stakes, lighting, clamplights, solar lights, generators, umbrellas, rope, caribeeners, soap (Bronner’s especially), electric hotplates, electric stoves, propane fuel, water boilers, coffeemakers, coffee, cutting boards and knives, spatulas and plates, bowls, silverware, and cups, (be green)… large plastic bins, battery-powered lights and flashlights, non-disposable serving spoons and ladles, sugar, restaurant style space heaters, and I guess the media people have a list as well.  Cat 5, paper, toner cartridges, tables, pre-paid hot spots, secure server space, computers, laptops, phones, and iPads.”

Queen Ra says: “Queen Ra from Skid Row Photography Club invites all Hue-Man Be-Ins to come join us at Occupy LA!  If you are lonely, scared, stressed, hungry-angry, frustrated, curious, and not dead come and share your love!”  Queen Ra is a spiritual connector.

While I am talking, a woman with blond hair wearing jeans and boots hands a fistful of twenty dollar bills to the donations group.

Here I am talking with the “Head of Security,” probably according to the nonviolent security arrangements which were formulated Saturday, dressed in Day-Glo orange.  His name is Emilio and he says: we have had a awesome turn out everybody here is peaceful we are being heard the right way  not by images of young people with mis-placed anger  tipping over car or setting fires on another note i would like to say thank you to all the people who donated to this cause  this is history in the making.”

4:06  I just had a congenial conversation with Clay Claiborne, who also blogs for the Kos.  Clay Claiborne also likes to blog on Libyan issues, and so he discussed that in some detail.  He suggested that there was a core of 35-40 ANSWER people at this event (I doubt they’re all here now) and that they were not too fond of him. He showed me his liveblog — he’s been here every day.  He said he saw Fox News here and that they don’t have to get off the lawn at 10:30pm anymore.  We high-fived over that.

4:49 Jordan would like to say:

“Hello! Perhaps we can consider myself to be an observer of sorts, and upon observing, I’m realizing the extraordinary power inherent in collective action, and solidarity.  I’ve observed additionally, that those here on the grass in front of City Hall are representing hundreds, if not thousands of individuals who for a myriad of reasons (work, family, time etc) are unable to be physically present.  But there influence is seen, lived, and experienced, for it is the support that comes in the form of a small donation, bottled water, apples, books, and time.”

5:09 Clay Claiborne is with Margaret Prescod and she is touring the protest.

I heard from another library worker here that a generous donation of a 4g router here made my Internet connection possible.

I love this place, but as an alternate infrastructure it appears to be “just a start,” and liable to evaporate when the resources or other impetus to protest runs out.  Thus ongoing protests have a sort of “grow or die” dynamic.  I would also like to see a type of protest growth that moved directly into community gardens, urban farms, and other institutions of direct sustainability. If we are going to live off the land, as ongoing protests do, we might consider the possibility that (for instance) if we had to pee, then we should be able to pee into a compost heap rather than a dirty Porta-Pottie.  I suppose it would be easier to have a simple set of demands and a simple plan for achieving them.  This doesn’t appear to be like that.

UPDATE:

6:38 I just had a conversation with Alan Minsky, program director of KPFK.  He wanted to interview me but he used up the whole hour and was burned out and had to leave.  But he was so nice!  He stayed around while I explained my opinion on Occupy LA: we should expand in a direction related to community gardens and local self-subsistence, because this meeting exists because of the charity of strangers, and if we are to survive this way, we need to expand in the direction of photosynthetic charity, from the Sun.  Minsky told me that Occupy Wall Street had made three demands: one about them being the 99%, the other being about the crimes of Wall Street, the third being a general complaint about inequity.    But apparently, continued Minsky, there is this list of other demands that aren’t being voiced at present.  And I’m sure, he said, that sustainability is part of that.  So that is where we stand.

7:18 Here I am in the tent with the live feed.  I did a little bit of the live feed — I liked to pause to think carefully about what I’m saying next, and maybe that’s not so telegenic.  At any rate this attractive woman named Lisa scored my laptop some electricity so that I could continue blogging here.  Soon, I am told, there will be a general assembly.  Currently there is a breastfeeding mom using the livefeed trying to encourage mothers and children to participate in Occupy LA.

7:49 This woman named Beth is part of the “media team” and she complained do me that I wasn’t supposed to be there unless I was part of the media team and she also told me of some enormous security issues (people stealing stuff, and she was accosted by a homeless person this morning).  I assure Beth that Lisa let me use the plug to recharge my laptop, and she continued to complain about security issues.  I lend Beth my flashlight so that she can look for a missing item in this dark tent.

8:37 the general assembly is going on right now.  Various people are ascending to the “stage,” which for this meeting is on the steps of the north entrance to the LA City Hall, and are reading short poems, discussing committees, and so on.  A woman from the ISO gives me a handout.  I have actually missed most of the activity here while recharging my computer, so you will get a report of the tail end. While I was in the media tent, a fellow named Alexander tried to send some pictures using my computer.  He finally succeed, but not without a lot of strained nerves and concerns from one person about who I was, since I was not one of the “media team.”

A moviemaker named Melissa is now speaking to the crowd, telling all that Rosanna Arquette was here today.  “This is the first Constitutional Convention of the millenium.”

Another speaker announces a “Share Bike” program.  One last announcement is that on Sunday is that there will be a bunch of bike riders shutting down the streets.

Another announcer announces interfaith prayers.

Justice for Janitors wants to do a teach-in at 12pm at Spring and Temple (with SEIU) on direct action.

We have 700 occupations world-wide.  Another speaker leads a chant: “We are the 99%!”

I think our moderator is speaking now “Now is the time for proposals.”  30 minutes.”If you are part of the committee…”  “Everybody ready?”  “Let’s do this.”

Proposals: Supporting Civil Disobedience to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan.   Occupy LA solidarity and flyering.

Outreach proposal tomorrow after lunch.  Street corners of LA.

Sunday reachout to the cyclists.

October 15th Occupy LA presents Occupy Rodeo Drive.  From 10am to 6pm march in Beverly Hills.

blocking concern — too far, we should remain in LA for global day of action

further discussion is opened.  By now it is 9:04pm.

Apparently this motion is being amended.  Would the 16th be OK?  No.  The 22nd?

Action will be re-discussed in committee.

Proposals portion of the meeting over.

No!  One more committee proposal.

Anti-Columbus Day protest.  Apparently the sponsors of this thing are just trying to get solidarity with this protest.  Hard blocks.  Blockers must come up to the front.

Tabled for clarification later.

Badges for media team proposal “to clarify who we are” when covering Occupy LA.

Consensus.

Two minutes left.

Another proposal: we “unify the tents” after tomorrow when they’ll be allowed on the grass after 10:30.  The moderator asks for points of clarification.

No questions.  Consensus. 9:32.  So apparently it is time to move the tents, because the City Council wanted the tents off the grass at 10:30pm (until tomorrow).  Solidarity clap, applause for the moderator.  End of meeting.

Summary reflection: I didn’t get to see the whole of this meeting.  But it appeared to me to be a meeting of a protest organization in its early stage.  People are organizing around the idea of protest today with more protest tomorrow.  We’ll see how it goes.

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