At least, this is what I learned at a recent town hall meeting held to discuss the July 12-ArtWalk, where a near-riot broke out when police began arresting people for writing on the sidewalks with chalk. It was a planned act of civil disobedience organized by members of Occupy Los Angeles to bring awareness to a spate of arrests they have suffered while chalking political messages, which police say is vandalism.
The idea to hold the town meeting, which was organized by a few members of Occupy LA, seemed like a healthy idea. Why not? Share some ideas, maybe reach to some understanding. I was invited to come and share my experience in the affair at ArtWalk. Seeing that I was the only journalist who saw the entirety of the event from start to finish, I thought I might have something to share that could offset some of the misinformation the LAPD and media have been peddling.
But the several business owners who showed up to the meeting would not have been interested in anything I had to say. The preservation of our First Amendment, and the fact the LAPD is aggressively targeting a political movement with a law that clearly violates two federal court rulings, was not on their lofty agenda. Occupy LA interfered with commerce and a stiff scolding was in order. As any good citizen will say, liberty can wait when there are transactions to be made.
There was no concern about the role of police tactics at the ArtWalk uprising. None seemed upset that ArtWalk attendees were shoved by police, arrested for chalking or shot by cops with less-lethal rounds. And there certainly was no concern about occupiers having suffered numerous petty arrests, other than just chalking, from a police force that has become increasingly antagonistic toward them.
No, there is a “community” being built downtown and there is no time for people who fail to disperse when ordered.
In his book, The Power Elite, sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote: “For of all the possible values of human society, one and one only is truly sovereign, truly universal, truly sound, truly and completely acceptable goal of man in America. The goal is money, and let there be no sour grapes about it from the losers.”
Thusly, high ideals are to be subjugated before the altar of commerce. And so a little bit of tyranny goes by, unchecked, so cash registers can keep working. LAPD Capt. Frank and Chief Beck collect their paychecks, businesses continue to conduct their holy work and the very few among us who, while fighting police repression, are trying to thwart massive political corruption, the corporate take over of our government, economic injustice and a dying planet get vilified.
If the town hall meeting is any measure, the ArtWalk uprising remains a stained memory imprinted on the gentle hearts of LA’s staunchest citizens. The sight of protesters “invading ArtWalk” in the name of the Bill of Rights was simply intolerable and upsetting to the rhythms of proper digestion.
After witnessing the overwhelming condemnation of occupiers for upsetting ArtWalk, I am convinced the matter comes down to a mistake in tactics. Occupy LA would have been much better received had they instead napalmed a small village in Afghanistan to raise awareness of political repression in Los Angeles. A few charred bodies would have gone down a lot smoother than interfering with the tenuous flow of ArtWalk.
But until occupiers learn to behave in accordance with polite society, a line in the sand must be drawn, and the sanctity of our “community” must be preserved — and always with the most fervent moral indignation one can muster. ArtWalk must be protected at all costs, and those who fail to respect honest, industrious business activity shall be bridled and gagged before the golden altar of commerce until they learn to worship our one, true god.
Posted: Saturday, 4 August 2012
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