The Occupy LA movement has divided the community into two groups, those who support the movement and those who are opposed, and then it has done the impossible, it has created an opportunity for the two sides to come together.
Those who oppose the Occupy LA movement’s occupation of LA’s City Hall Park charge that the leaderless disorganization of the opt-in crowd lacks a refined and cohesive message and is therefore an exercise in noise and obstruction.
Those who support Occupy LA contend that their complaints are valid and that the long litany of issues that have been raised are not only accurate, they represent a critical call for action that demonstrates the need to raise up real leadership.
The two positions aren’t necessarily exclusive, in fact, there may be more common ground than either side has recognized.
If the opponents of Occupy LA really want to see the tents disappear from City Hall Park, the simplest solution would be to step up and demonstrate the leadership necessary to tackle the big issues, to ask the tough questions, and to take meaningful action.
If the supporters of Occupy LA really want see this movement actually move, the most effective tactic would be to step up and provide the leadership necessary to take the action inside, to the Mayor’s office and to City Council, where the decisions are made.
The ongoing debate over the lack of leadership and coherent message from Occupy LA has allowed the Mayor and City Council to quietly continue to debate barking dogs and parking tickets while avoiding the tough issues that are the substance of the debate on the street.
As Occupy LA rails against Wall Street, LA’s investment portfolio shriveled, yet City Hall has shrugged it off as inevitable and allowed the people of LA to make up the difference at the expense of our infrastructure and the delivery of critical city services.
As Occupy LA charges banks with their role in a collapsing economy, the City of LA experiences unprecedented home foreclosures that destroy families, blight neighborhoods, and reduce property tax income to a city already in a budget crisis.
As Occupy LA calls for leadership that will deliver economic justice to the quickly disappearing middle class, the City of LA experiences unemployment that exceeds the national rate by 40% and homelessness that is three times the national rate.
The supporters of Occupy LA want to see the movement move forward and they want to see the issues addressed in a meaningful and effective manner.
The opponents of Occupy LA want to see the occupation of City Hall Park come to an end and they want to see real leadership take on the issues with a coherent message.
It’s time to take the baton from those who have effectively brought the conversation to the marketplace of ideas and now it’s time for the supporters and the opponents to put up, to step up, to demonstrate the leadership that is missing, and to take the movement inside City Hall.
It’s time that we stop looking to the tents at City Hall Park and instead look inside City Hall and ask the Mayor and the City Council the tough questions, “Where is the leadership and what is the plan?”
Photo: Ginger Liu.