Occupy Los Angeles is feeling the effects, both positive and negative, of its growth. Sanitation costs –hauling out garbage and cleaning the portapotties– are taking up most of the donations, and meals must now be delivered from restaurants or “catered” by certified kitchens in order to comply with the health department until the proper permits are in place. Occupy LA’s cook staff did have access to a kitchen for the first two weeks andthey are still looking for another. Pizza is still coming in and people are also relying on their own resources, providing food for themselves and those around them.
The mediation tent (above right) is a popular spot, as is the South Lawn with the People’s Stage where bands, poets and speakers entertain and teach. A list of activities, including yoga and teaching seminars, is listed on Occupy LA’s website. The bike community and Occupy LA are staging Sunday rides at noon, and four bikes have been donated to Occupy for communal use; there’s also a bike workshop which teaches basic repair.
Last Thursday the weekly farmers’ market relocated to the outdoors California Mall, much to the distress of some of the vendors because some of tent dwellers were concerned that the Fire Department’s request that they clear fire lanes was a plot to remove them. The matter is being addressed again in General Assembly.
As Occupy LA is not permitted to camp technically they need to move their tents nightly off the lawn. So far, the city has been very cool about that, but that could change, especially if the farmers’ market vendors get more upset.
Camp security has become more vigilant, as there is a need to comply with city law–ie. no drinking on city property. There have been four arrests for minor violations over an 18 day period, according to the LA Times.
Meanwhile, plenty of other groups and organizations are happy to come and pitch their pet projects–which at times dovetail into Occupy LA’s and other times don’t–and ask for Occupy’s feet on the street (one anti-foreclosure group asked for volunteers to be arrested in civil disobedience and/or Occupiers to show up and support the homeowners, while the United Teachers used Occupy as a launching point for their march last week, the New Corp protest drew a large number of Occupiers).
Some groups ask for Occupy LA’s assistance and support without ever checking on what Occupy needs in terms of support, solidarity, supplies, man power, etc. They are a barter community, and other groups should be prepared to trade manpower.
Monday night at GA several lawyers came by to explain what Occupy LA could do for them and their causes, but neglected to offer any support in terms of legal aid should there be arrests to assist community members with their own legal matters, or to hold workshops. They were not well received.
Some are giving back, like Tom Morello, who played a set Tuesday and put 175 Occupiers on his guest list at the Troubador to see him play for free. Comic Jeff Ross who performed last week brought toilet paper and deodorant.
Other visitors to the camp are bringing supplies (rain ponchos would be handy, along with batteries and white boards and markers,while the media tent needs SD cards. Security would love some walkie talkies. Food deliveries from restaurants are appreciated, as are crates of fruit. And you know, if you’re going to take pictures of people sitting in front of or in their tents, it is polite to ask.