Occupy LA was out in full force this past week to mark their one year anniversary.
The group gathered at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. The square has become the center of the Occupy L.A. movement since protesters were ousted from the City Hall lawn.
Occupiers say they're protesting corporate control and what they call the social, economic and political injustices that continue to affect people's everyday lives.
Los Angeles police forcibly removed the protesters last winter from the City Hall lawn that they dubbed "Solidarity Park." Occupiers say the removal from City Hall did not stop their message. Protesters say it was the Occupy movement that finally brought light to the many injustices facing people in America. They say people who criticize the movement haven't been paying attention to the results.
In fact, occupiers in Los Angeles have stopped several fraudulent foreclosures from occurring, and they've applied pressure to multiple banks to stop charging fees for basic services.
Occupy LA also remains focused on what they call the criminalization of homelessness. They say corporate influences are pushing leaders to force out the city's massive homeless population for the sake of making a profit.
The group expressed concerned that most Americans still seem unwilling to address the real problems facing the U.S.
LAPD officers were on the scene during the entire peaceful demonstration. There were no reports of arrests or altercations.
Foreclosure fraud is on the rise in California and Occupy Los Angeles activists say elected officials are doing nothing to stop it. California had the nation's highest foreclosure rate this summer, contributing to at least two major cities seeking bankruptcy protection. The state attorney general has promised relief but homeowners have yet to see it.
On July 12th, participants in OccupyLA met to raise awareness for unlawful arrests of activists that had been targeting a lobby group with a stranglehold on power over local and state politics. The activists handed out chalk and shared the story of unlawful arrests and police repression. The LAPD responded by amassing in riot gear and issuing a tactical alert effectively shutting down the Downtown LA art walk and trapping many patrons inside of local businesses as a response to chalk art being drawn on the sidewalk. The mainstream media misrepresented the sequence of events, blaming occupiers for the near riot in Downtown LA even though the police were responsible for escalation.
The public, frustrated by the absurdity of police violence over 'sidewalk chalk', filled the streets demanding that the police cease their intimidation over what many consider a fundamental right to free speech and assembly. The law enforcement arm of the state saw fit to intervene violently in a peaceful expression of free speech and 'do it yourself' art, on behalf of the private interests that control the downtown space. They shot the crowd with the near lethal force of rubber bullets and foam grenades inciting fear and panic so that their violent intervention appears justified. In light of recent police murders in Anaheim, it is important we show that crowd control tactics taken against any who dare protest are not acceptable uses of force by any police state. More than that, these acts of terror by the police state will not deter us from assembling and seeking justice for our communities.
The political and financial elite cannot bear to see us assemble, cannot bear for us to share ideas and strategies or grow our vision and movement into revolution. We know that this is not about chalk. It is about whose interests are affected by our message, whose interests are protected when so-called public servants protect lifeless sidewalks from the messages of a frustrated populace. It is about censorship, political freedom and the merger of corporation and state working to silence the voice of the people. It is about the extrajudicial authority of the national security apparatus for the mere purpose of intimidating the masses into silence.
On August 9th, Occupy Los Angeles calls for you to fill your squares and take your streets and sidewalks with chalk. Call to all people everywhere to show that dissent is as simple as writing your grievances on the sidewalk, as accessible as hopscotch in the streets- reclaiming public space and engaging in public dialogue and expression. Join us (if you're close enough) for a day of solidarity and fun to celebrate the human spirit and chalk for our collective liberation. Together we will remake the art of public life in our alley ways, on the doorsteps of banks whose only allegiance is to profit, and in the streets built by our labor.
In solidarity, regardless of all nations and borders, we will engage in willful public expression against political repression.
NOTE: Be aware that your actions make evoke a police response and it is important all participants are familiar with local private and public property laws so that they can assess their own level of risk and make informed decisions.
More videos surfaced online on Sunday of the LAPD violence at Thursday’s Downtown LA Art Walk.
Many helicopters hover above the streets. Full riot gear was worn by some officers during the ordeal. Rubber bullets and other projectiles were in use. The police were very aggressive. All this over chalk painting on the sidewalk?
In the video above at 4:49, you can see a man in a white t-shirt shot at very close range with a projectile weapon. He falls to the ground and is clearly incapacitated. After the man stumbles to the ground, two Occupiers come to his aid but police move in, chase the occupiers off, 14 officers surround the man, while one officers kicks the man in the face, then other officers smash his face into the pavement, and violently arrested him.
This next video shows the incident from ground level:
Worldwide, May 1st is traditionally a ‘Workers’ day – a day of Labor Solidarity, and a public holiday. It’s a day to celebrate and march in support of im/migrant rights. In protest against the corruption of the worldwide marketplace, which has led to illegal foreclosures, mass unemployment, low wages, high taxes and a penalization of all those who do not own the ‘99%’ of the world’s resources, and in solidarity with the im/migrant movements of May 1st, we decided to declare May 1st, 2012 a People’s General Strike. Instead of calling upon unionized Labor to make a specific demand (illegal under Taft-Hartley), we are calling upon the people of the world to take this day away from school and the workplace, so that their absence makes their displeasure with this corrupt system be known.
On December 19th, 2011, Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly consented upon the following statement:
“Occupy LA supports in principle a General Strike on May 1, 2012, for migrant rights, jobs for all, a moratorium on foreclosures, and peace – and to recognize housing, education and health care as human rights, and calls for the building of a broad coalition to make that a reality.”
Occupations across the world have made similar calls for a General Strike, or day of economic disruption, in direct response to Occupy Los Angeles, or through a synchronicity of thought, a buzzing hive mind that feels the need to express solidarity with movements and people throughout the world who honor May Day and see this years expression of that as our next major step.
How can I participate?
If you are part of unionized labor, and your contract is up for negotiation, you can officially strike on May 1st. If you are not – call in sick. Take a holiday. Don’t show up to school. March with us, or join in one of the many events that will be taking place on May 1st, either in the day or in the evening. Block parties, rallies, protests, marches, family BBQ’s – this is a day when we take a stand against the way the system has enslaved us and burdened us with unmanageable debt, incredibly long working weeks, unfeasibly expensive healthcare — by taking a day for ourselves, being human again, spending time with our families and friends. Our bosses dictate everything to us — but not our holiday. The holiday of the working class, the 99%.
If you can’t participate on #M1GS, you can contribute in other ways. Spread the word. Poster your neighborhood. Help form Strike Committees in the workplace. Agitate. Tweet. Like. Donate here (Occupy Los Angeles) to help us get the word out, for logistics — and for TENTS.
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE and LABOR RIGHTS
PEACE WITH JUSTICE
CIVIL LIBERTIES — END THE POLICE STATE
HOUSING, EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE AS HUMAN RIGHTS
Late Wednesday evening, a member of Occupy LA was struck by a car as he rode his bicycle to cross a Beverly Hills street at a crosswalk. Following the Livestream, and statements from fellow occupiers, I've gathered that his name is "Will," and that he is one of the group's artists who has been with that occupy group since its beginning.
I'm not certain where the group was coming from, but it seems they had been at either a march or protest as they had signs, and at least one person was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. After about a minute into the video, you can hear a sound that was likely the impact, and those on foot catch up to where Will landed in the road with his mangled bike not far away.
Will was alert and responsive, attended to by police until emergency services arrived on the scene. He stated that his neck and back were hurt, and was kept lying flat until he was gently slid onto a stretcher. I didn't catch the name of the hospital he was being transported to, as someone off camera was giving that information to someone.
The car that struck him did stop, and the driver was being questioned by police. There was at least one witness who came forward, a plain-clothes Beverly Hills police officer who at first wouldn't speak to the occupiers, but did finally after giving his official statement to the other police on the scene.
Officer Hamill (I'm guessing at the spelling of his last name here) said that Will was right in front of him as they both were crossing the street at the crosswalk, and that they had the right of way. The car that hit Will did not yield the right of way, struck him, and he landed some 20-30 feet away in the road. He indicated that there would likely be an investigation into the accident before the driver would possibly be cited for any violation.
Members of the occupy group were upset that the driver wasn't given a breathalyzer test for alcohol, and at one point chanted demanding that he be given one. Also disconcerting was that the driver smiled widely as he watched the occupiers from where his car was sitting.
That's all I know at the moment, but I will be looking for updates later in the morning. Let's all hope for a speedy and full recovery for Will.
If you notice an alarming number of military troops, military trucks and helicopters in Los Angeles this week, "Don't be alarmed," says the LAPD, "it's only a drill." Joint military training exercises will be held this week through Thursday.
Officials say the training areas “have been carefully selected to ensure the event does not negatively impact the citizens of Los Angeles and their daily routine."
The training, which a department official said would involve helicopters, has been coordinated with local authorities and owners of the training sites, police said.
Police said safety precautions have been taken to prevent risk to the general public and military personnel involved.
The exercises are closed to the public, police said.
The exercises are designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements, police said.
That's right, nothing to see here. Just move along, everyone.