October 15th saw a world day of action and unification for the 99 % / Occupy movement and Los Angeles participated in an almost unique fashion; it was peaceful with no clashes with the Los Angeles police department or amongst themselves. Clashes have occurred in other cities such as Rome, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston and New York city.
An eclectic crowd of thousands marched thru downtown starting at Pershing Square surging thru the financial district and on down to the occupied lawn of Los Angles city hall. Cries of "Make the banks pay" and "Banks Got Bailed out ? We Got Sold out" rang throughout the march.
The police presence appeared to be at a minimal with most of the protest being self regulated by Occupy LA security folks.
The action was peopled by almost every aspect of the contemporary left with a vast array of folks from every age, ethnicity and income levels. The slope leading to the financial district was steep yet everyone seemed to climb it enthusiastically, all the while roaring and protesting against Wall Street's practices of inequity ; the banks victimization of homeowners or the dismantling of union rights. Those in crutches, wheelchairs and baby carriages stayed pace with the crowd even on the merciless slope of Grand Ave.
There were antiwar protesters, and socialists. Capitalist small business owners marched alongside the homeless who chanted with Jewish labor people alongside Ron Paul libertarians. There were anarchists and union workers, veterans and pacifists, those with jobs and the unemployed. The foreclosed upon walked with nurses and teachers while the fringe urged on the new middle class "mad as Hell " people to voice their rage.
It was an American moment in the old fashioned sense of the that tarnished concept. People came together to protest a commonly felt fleecing. Occupy Los Angeles has founded a safe zone / hub where the disenfranchised and the usually silently raging citizens of Los Angeles are coming to openly voice their dissent. Because of the cooperation being employed by all of the actors in this scenario there is a growing place where Angelenos can congregate to do the most basic of political rights........ To Speak, To assemble,To vote and To give motion to the legislative process.
After speaking to a number of Occupy LA participants and a few LAPD persons of various rank it seems that a common goal is to remain nonviolent with a minimal amount of police participation. It was put to the reporter that all of these Angelenos would like to take the Occupy movement along with the city of LA, forward to another level. Progress in legislation as well as a change in image for a city that has one of the worst reputations in the U.S as a violent and riot prone town with a high level of police brutality seems to be a common goal.
There was also a surprising lack of some of the groups that often attempt to dominate the LA protest scene with duplicated signage and other means.
The demands of the Occupy LA movement are coalescing into a number of fundamental ideas. Initially , a reckoning and routing of the financial interests who are tapping viciously into American personal households along with a cessation to our costly wars. And perhaps secondly there is an overall sentiment that there must be a significant alteration in the way money in the U.S. can be earned and distributed. The first issue strikes as historically democratic and quite American in it's history. The second has always had a tough go in the assumed meritocracy of the U.S. but it does regularly happen. It is equally as American as a slice of pizza, two tacos, an egg roll, and some apple pie.
Once the protesting was over the afternoon was filled with all of the activities a typical church festival on any given summer Sunday might be display. Committees met, bands played, people ate and discussions ensued. Garbage was gathered, Johnny On The Spots were utilized and tents were pitched.
The sun set and The Occupy LA movement was living to fight another day.
Perhaps this needs a more permanent architecture...it would help to coalesce a population that isn't always aware of how much it has in common. It worked for Athens.....
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