LA’s Downtown Business Leaders Give ArtWalk Protesters the Brush-Off

Rampant hooliganism will not be tolerated in downtown Los Angeles; it could interfere with commerce.

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.

dan bluemelBut 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.

Dan Bluemel
L.A. Activist

Posted: Saturday, 4 August 2012

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  1. Joe29 says

    Pendejo Bluemel,

    Under California Penal Code section 594. ” (a) Every person who maliciously commits any of the following
    acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her
    own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of
    (1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material…” “Other inscribed material” is broad enough to include chalk and therefore, chalking is vandalism.

  2. Joe29 says

    Bluemel, you are full of it!

    Occupy went to the Art Walk to hijack this event and in the process to declare “war on gentrification.” What is this vague notion of being against gentrification? Anyone who wants to go to DTLA to enjoy art, shopping, and the other distractions that DTLA has to offer? Anyone who owns a home in DTLA? Anyone who puts their life savings to start a small business, coffee shop, art gallery, etc. in DTLA? These are the people who Occupy declared war on, not the 1%.

    Bluemel, you talk about vague notions of social justice and the altar of commerce? WTF are you talking about? You sound like some new age idiot. Occupy L.A. got it dead wrong going after small business owners and artists. The Occupy “movement” has absolutely no focus and no agenda and without a clear focus and agenda, the Occupy “movement” and YOU sound like blithering idiots. Nobody and I mean NOBODY has a friggin clue what Occupy wants! Occupy is clearing wearing out its welcome!

    Bluemel, where do you live? If you don’t live in DTLA, you really do not have a right to mouth off on DTLA. Do you live in Santa Monica? West L.A.? Venice? If so, take your “Westside is the Best Side” attitude and go away!

  3. says

    victor hugo, frida khalo, vincent van gogh, georgia o’keefe, yoko ono, charles dickens, walt whitman, oscar wilde, studs turkel, pete seeger, these are our credentials, and we may calmly say fuckoff to those who dare to deny any artist canvas, breath, blood and bone-where humans live, nothing is sacred,nothing is profane!

  4. says

    This article is misleading. I was there at that meeting and was a witness to some of the events at July’s Art Walk. Most of the downtown community supported OLA’s rights, but felt that Chalk Walk was a poor way to get their message across. It hurt local business owners and artists. These are people who are just trying their best to make it. They are small shop owners and artists who basically depend on the revenue from Art Walk to keep them in business or new Artists trying to find a place in the world. These people were all there and all first hand witnesses to the events that went down. OLA, on the other hand claimed to have left for a fundraiser and continually said that they weren’t there at that time. However, they spoke as if they were.

    Is OLA against people working hard to make an honest living? Is OLA going to be there when these businesses can’t pay their rent? Are they going to help clean up the chalk on buildings in front of these shops? Is OLA not concerned with the needs of small, local businesses?

    I’m not trying to discredit OLA. They have a great message to get out there, but when they hurt small businesses (the ones they should be protecting), then you wonder what happened to that message. I believe they have done some great things. However, when they start attacking and negatively affecting a part of that 99% they are going to lose their supporters, which has already been happening. The message is getting lost. Hopefully they can come together and find a peaceful way to bring it back and stronger.

    • Joe29 says

      What message? Occupy has no focus, no agenda and they are hurting honest people who are trying to make a living.

  5. says

    Is “It doesn’t make any difference if you are guilty or innocent, just plead ;no contest anyway, as that’s the way the system works’ still the motto of the Los Angeles County State Bar association? As long as cover-ups of abuse and denials of due process in Los Angeles (as well as other abuses) is standard operating procedure, there is no reason to believe the current system should be allowed to endure.

    • Joe29 says

      Bob, the first amendment is not unlimited. The government has the right to impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on free speech. If the Occupy people wanted to make a point, they could have organized their own free speech event at a different time. Also, “free speech” doesn’t mean that the Occupy “movement has a right to hijack another organization’s cultural event. There was no due process violation, there was vandalism and law breaking by the Occupy protesters that hurt small businesses and struggling artists.

  6. Todd says

    Good piece. I have to say I find it harder and harder to give a shit what those who are fortunate to have a home, a job, or own a business. I certainly will not being doing any business downtown except at Occu-friendly businesses.

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