“Occupy LA” Takes a Step

Occupy LA

By the time we got off the Metro at the Little Tokyo stop this afternoon and walked the several blocks to City Hall, the “Occupy LA” protestors had already marched over from their gathering place at Pershing Square that morning and taken up residence on the lawn.

Familiar voices — Ron Kovic’s and Marcy Winograd’s — exhorted the gathering as we arrived, followed by other, younger voices we did not recognize. The crowd — we heard estimates as high as 3,000 for various times during the day — was mostly younger, in their twenties and thirties, with only a sprinkling of the graybeards so prevalent at most progressive political events we attend around town.

On the verges of the gathering, vendors sold bacon-wrapped hotdogs and sodas and bottled water. John Amato from “Crook & Liars” distributed boxes of free pizza. We passed a drumming circle, guitarists gone quiet in the day’s growing heat, and groups of comrades laying out their sleeping bags where apparently they intended to spend the night.

The mood was both festive and earnest, with one third the crowd chronicling the proceedings with their cameras, the second third looking for a bit of shade on a warmish Los Angeles afternoon, and the rest holding a disparate array of mostly hand-painted protest signs:

  • occupy laWe Need a Revolution”
  • “Unjust, Unfair, War, Corruption, Greed No More”
  • “It’s Not A Crisis, It’s a Scam”
  • “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
  • “What Happened to the Middle Class?”
  • “We Are the 99%”
  • “Venceremos: We Will Win”
  • “Do I Look Illegal”

According to its organizers, “Occupy LA” is part of nationwide effort to focus attention on a broad range of woes afflicting most Americans: high unemployment, cuts in educational spending, wars that never end, health care out of reach for many, and a sense that the wealthy are doing mighty fine when so many Americans are hurting.

On a day when 500 “Occupy Wall Street” protestors were arrested for blocking traffic on New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, the scattering of Los Angeles police officers present took a decidedly low-key, almost amiable stance, nodding and greeting protestors who looked their way. One officer, blond and fit, called out “My man,” when I nodded at him. Others made a point of catching the eyes of passersby and smiling.

Worn out from the heat and noise, we left the protest to younger, heartier souls after several hours and made our way back to the Metro stop. Along the way, we stumbled on a delightful Japanese restaurant called “The Fat Spoon” in Little Tokyo, where our friend Lauren Steiner, her son, and their new pet dog joined us thanks to the marvel of navigation apps on cellphones.

Which is to say, you wonder if gatherings like this can lead to anything. No doubt, the country needs dramatic improvement on all the fronts that brought these people together on such a pleasant Southern California fall day. And no doubt the people present had their hearts in all the right places.

But the forces arrayed against them — us — are powerful indeed. We may have the numbers — we may indeed be the 99 percent folks were chanting about today — but they’ve got the money to match our numbers. And we haven’t figured out how to buy our political leaders with numbers.

But then you look at what happened in Madison, Wisconsin, this past winter and you take heart. Maybe, just maybe, something could grow from gatherings like today’s.

Dick Price
Editor, LA Progressive


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  1. says

    Sure, they’re young, but they’re not saying, “don’t trust anyone over 30.” These young people support seniors. They’re not trying to make a generation gap. The Occupy LA General Assembly even has a research and history working group. Maybe you and Sharon should participate there.

    • says

      Grayingguy: My comment was rather the reverse, that at far too many progressive political events it’s only the old heads who show up. I was delighted to see so many young people participating, taking the lead and supplying the energy. I didn’t see any evidence of anyone being left out, old or young.

  2. Val Eisman says

    Yep, the movement has got a long ways to go. The younger generation have a lot to learn about organization, coalitions and alliances. But it’s a first step young people are making away from apathy and lethargy. They are taking baby steps to seize their future. Only they can do this. And it’s seems many are beginning to understand this.

    Now, when is the older generation going to keep their corrupt leadership out of their unions and put in some new younger people to head up the ALFCIO and to rebuild and politicize the labor movement?

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