LOS ANGELES, 27 Nov 2011--The Occupiers at City Hall are asking all Angelenos to come to City Hall starting at 10:30 p.m. tonight and secure the space from a scheduled police raid until the Occupation can obtain a temporary restraining order when the courts open in the morning. To cede City Hall to the Mayor is to allow government, yet again, to control public spaces and public voices. It is to allow, yet again, the wealthy and powerful to frame the discussion, to shut down the face of the movement. For 58 days, Occupiers by the hundreds and sometimes thousands have taken up residence on the lawn as proxies for the swelling dissatisfaction of nearly all Angelenos with social and economic inequality. At this juncture, the Occupiers are calling on all Angelenos to stand with them to protect the Occupation.
The current Occupiers are inviting Angelenos to round-the-clock block party with marches around City Hall, bands, and vigils until the space is secured again for the people. The people of Los Angeles are invited to come to City Hall to celebrate and claim their space and keep the police at bay all night and into tomorrow, until the court can intercede.
Seventy-two hours ago, notices were tacked up around City Hall lawn. Mayor Villaraigosa and police Chief Beck sent out the ultimatum to all of Los Angeles in a holiday weekend press conference timed to reach you on the local evening news: your Occupation of City Hall would officially end tonight. The Occupiers have responded that the City has no right to proscribe the people's right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble and petition for a redress of grievances.
Since the encampment arose on October 2, hundreds and sometimes thousands of Los Angeles residents have walked through, picnicked, and camped on the lawn of City Hall daily in a visible demonstration of dissatisfaction with the social and economic status quo. Angelenos by the thousands have joined the groundswell of Occupations across the country and the world, reclaiming spaces and visibility in what had been a monologue about the “needs” of the wealthiest and most influential at the expense of the remaining 99%. With unemployment, foreclosures, and personal debt skyrocketing, as small businesses vanish overnight and homelessness swells, as entire at-risk communities fall into the economic abyss, the people of the United States and worldwide are rising up against financial bailouts doled out to the wealthiest 1%, tax preferences for multinational corporations, corporate take-over of the government, and preferential treatment for those who need it least.
Today, all Angelenos are needed to give up a night's sleep for just and fair treatment in government, for safety and security for our children, our friends, our neighbors, for right to a better future that's not gobbled up by the mechanisms of the wealthy. And tomorrow, workplaces all over the City will be a little less productive, and the social balance will have swung a bit more toward justice.
In the words of Jessica and Alex, Occupiers:
Emergency Communique Establishing our Right to Occupy
We recognize, and urge city officials to recognize, the entrenched interests pressuring for the evacuation of Solidarity Park on behalf of “local” but most certainly multinational corporations, just as they have collectively lobbied as the Central City Association, pushing for an anti-encampment ordinance. We assert, in light of our action on Nov. 17th in which a private citizen on behalf of BofA placed 46 protesters under private persons arrest with the help of hundreds of the LAPD as well as a militarized 4-block radius, that the city is not being transparent in their reasoning for eviction and is in fact moving at the behest of the 1%.
OLA rejects municipal health, safety or aesthetic concerns as invalid reasoning to displace our encampment, a political space for unhindered peaceful assembly and the expression of free speech.
We remind you that as taxpayers, for decades we have paid into paving these streets and funding the operations of governmental buildings without asking for anything other than representation of our interests. This social contract has been broken, and rather than wait for utter economic collapse, the people have taken encampment upon themselves as a tool of sustaining and amplifying free speech. Our presence as OccupyLA, in its current form, actively asserts our right to free assembly through the chosen method of occupation. We occupy as a presence and force of vigilance under a political process that leaves no room for the organic and legitimate voice of the people.
We remind you that though you speak of the sustainability of our encampment, we are here to address the sustainability of corruption and greed in our social, economic and governmental processes. We do not consider the grass, unsustainable in this climate, to be a suitable reason to displace an encampment of people intent on exercising their right to free speech. The issues affecting our encampment and exploited in the media, in terms of non-participation via drug or alcohol use, or the appearance of increased petty crime in and around the immediate encampment area, are a result of the same lack of resources/poverty that disproportionately effects many of our communities on a consistent and predatory basis. We reject the criminalization of these behaviors and instead demand their prompt consideration as symptoms of a diseased public policy process insufficient in addressing the needs of the people.
The Occupation of Los Angeles, in assembling peacefully at Solidarity Park, has created a microcosm of the society we live in and unabashedly thrusts it from the periphery right onto the doorstep of City Hall. We stand behind our de-gentrification of the downtown space as a direct response to the relationship between government and private corporations and the assault on public space.
When faced with the unjust relationship of government officials with the private sphere and the corrupting influence of money in the political process, it is important to measure the reaction of law enforcement against the message put out by the people in the streets. It is important to point out the comparatively harsh and organized violence that has characterized the police response to OWS in cities across the US and how our message about economic inequality has something to do with that. It is important to highlight the concerted efforts of 19 cities, under the umbrella of the Dept. of Homeland Security, to propogandize and suppress the occupation movement in one fell swoop.
Going further, we call upon all sisters and brothers of the occupy movement, sympathizers, supporters and critics to join us as we defend and reestablish our individual and collective rights to free speech and assembly (date and time of determined meeting point at that time). And we call upon all individuals to speak out against the use of intimidation, force, politics and power to break up peaceful occupations and repress or criminalize the exercise of our first amendment rights.