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Los Angeles: A Reality Briefing

by Hugh Stegman Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 at 3:58 PM

This ain't Chicago '68. It's way worse than that.

It has become apparent that many protestors from out of town are dangerously naive about Los Angeles, and what happens here.

1) The LAPD is busy winning the last war. They failed miserably in the '92 riot, and what you see at DNC is them stopping the riot. If protestors hadn't happened along for them to play Army on, they'd have had to hire some at the Screen Actors Guild. There is no way that LAPD was going to get through DNC without a show of force out of proportion to reality, because their reality is that they are trying to win an 8-year-old war, and keep businesses from fleeing the city.

2) Los Angeles is perhaps the most violent city in the USA. Its history is one of lynchings, gun battles, and racism. It's basically a Southern town with a better climate. In the Civil War, L.A. was actually occupied by Union troops because its majority favored secession.

3) Los Angeles invented the one-newspaper town. Even when it had 5 newspapers, it was a one-newspaper town, Otis and the 4 Dwarfs. A fair airing of grievances in the newspapers is something that you do not get in L.A..

4) Everything here is show business. The media have conditioned the public to see it all as one huge TV program, Big Brother with 3.5 million people in the house. The three rules of altering public opinion are showmanship, showmanship, showmanship.

5) Transportation and communication are very difficult. The people in Malibu have never been downtown, and most people who actually live downtown would probably be busted if they hung around Malibu too long. The isolation of downtown L.A. is total. It is not downtown New York, or even downtown Dubuque. It is a private business preserve upon which we were considered trespassers before we even got out of the cars.

6) This is perhaps the most paranoid city on Earth. Most of the population lives in mortal terror, as reflected in their TV and news content, and will never side with anyone who looks the least bit threatening or violent. They'll cheer as the cops unload with everything up to and including tactical nukes (downtown needs clearing out anyway). All you have to know about L.A. is that the city has removed hundreds of trees from around Staples, to deny the 50,000 trained and armed anarchists potential weapons to match the anti-personnel rounds carried by the cops, and that nobody cared about this.

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