Occupy San Diego: Small, Struggling, Committed

While Occupy Oakland has the support of a liberal community and national outrage on its side, and Occupy Los Angeles is basking in the shade at City Hall, Occupy San Diego is small and struggling against the conservative citizenry and lack of community support. Last week, in the wake of Oakland’s violent riots, the San Diego police and sheriffs broke up Occupy San Diego and arrested 53 people.

Today I drove over five hours round trip to visit Occupy San Diego which is still at Civic Center Plaza though the protestors are not allowed to have tents, sleeping bags, or coolers on the public property of the Plaza, as the police are enforcing San Diego’s no sleeping in public rule. The crowd of under 100, including union members who had brought lunches for the Occupiers, stood between the towering Bank of America and Wells Fargo buildings a block from the Civic Center then marched back to Civic Center where several people, including veterans cut up their bank ATM and credit cards in front of the assembled cameras and the small but cheering crowd–and a lot of police who seemed relaxed but definitely not inclined to join the 99%

Around the corner, another fifty or so people lounged on sleeping bags, sitting and talking, with cardboard signs and computers. Some are homeless, some are hipsters. They are all Occupying.

The police tell us to move and cash us out, but we come back

one dreadlocked post-teen girl told me.

Amir and Chase, two of the organizers, spoke with me explaining they have maybe 50 people who Occupy regularly. There is at this point little chance of an organized general strike in support of Oakland. The police are unhappy with Occupy still being in place and now nightly lock one of the entrances to the Plaza, while the other entrances have been narrowed or blocked all together with waterfilled barriers. Oddly one reason the police wanted Occupiers moved was that the fire marshal allegedly claimed that the Occupiers and their tents prevented safe egress from the surrounding buildings in case of fire. Yet the police barricades have impeded the exit and entrance of pedestrians.

The San Diego Occupy folks want to grow the Occupation, to attract more attention to the reasons behind the Occupy Movement and how it affects those in San Diego and the surrounding suburbs. But San Diego is a very conservative area and the outlying areas, Vista, Los Olivos, Del Mar and North County even more so. I remember my dad in the 1990s campaigning with the only other five Democrats–one of whom was his wife, my awesome stepmom–in his North County neighborhood to keep creationists off the local public school board. It hasn’t gotten much better in this century!

San Diego needs support, feet on the ground, more bodies showing up. A recent arrival, a chef just laid off from the University of San Diego had to give up his apartment in order to be able to live on his unemployment, and is spending his days at Occupy. Others, like Chase, have jobs yet manage to spend all their free time at Occupy. A nurse I spoke with has been down almost every night. Union support has been visible and welcome, and hopefully more seniors, church groups and other organizations and individuals will show up. But not having a permanent overnight spot, and lacking even begrudging support from the city council and mayor has definitely put a crimp in this Occupy.

But at least they have 24-hour access to toilets.

Ad Agencies, PR Firms Try to Co-Opt Bloggers

In light of the Gawker story on blogger payola, I thought I would share my own story and response. Earlier this month I received this email:

I’ve been reading lafiga.firedoglake.com and have a story idea that might interest your followers:

“One of the fundamental arguments for a European Union was the ability for companies to easily move across borders. An increasing number of European-based companies are moving a portion of their staff to other countries within Europe and more commonly to Asia – it simply makes sense in a global economy. Expanding facilities in different countries allows companies to take advantage of lower operating costs and taxes or simply to serve a new territory – and they often need proven managers to run these operations. Moving is a hassle for everyone, but utilizing relocation resources such as specialized agencies, realtors that have a national or global presence and proven courier services companies can make the transition smoother. In this article, I will discuss some potential resources for businesses and their employees.”

Would you be interested in having me write a guest post for your blog? Alternatively I could just supply you with some great trend information that you can use to write a post yourself.

Let me know if you’re interested – I think this topic will be of great interest to your readers.

Thanks for your time and best regards,
Margot M
Blog Content Guild
(Please let me know if you don’t want to receive any more emails from me! Thanks!)

So I wrote back:

Dear Margot,

I am very familiar with that process you describe which is known as neo-liberalism and has nothing to do with “liberal” politics; and which has caused horrific financial consequences to economies across the globe, both in the counties which have lost business and in the countries which have been the recipients of new businesses (think about the Special Economic Zones on the coast of China).

If you have been reading my site as you claim, you will notice that I cover pop culture, LGBT rights, religion, film, tv and other matters and have a progressive political slant. I wonder why you think a progressive political site would be interested in encouraging economic ruin and subhuman working conditions. Have you looked into the working conditions in the countries where some of these companies relocate? “Lower taxes” in another country only serves to benefit the company/shareholders, not the workers; and when companies relocate en masse, the finances of the mother country are eroded. With the loss of tax dollars comes the loss of funds for roads, schools, care for the elderly and ill. Those tax savings do not trickle down, and such practices are one of the root of the current Occupy protests. Seriously, you promote and thus would like to see more businesses leave your homeland, creating unemployment and social turmoil at home while exploiting workers and the environment elsewhere? Um, gross.

While I appreciate your entrepreneurship in trying to pitch me such an inappropriate and venal story idea, I can read between the lines of your email: You wish to promote certain companies with which you have a relationship. Remember this well: Writer and whore share many of the same letters, and it is wise to know who your trick is before you lift your skirts.

Needless to say, I haven’t heard back from her.

Late Night FDL: Occupy Main St

 

Today Limbaugh was blubbering about how the Democrat Party has

an ongoing arrogant contempt for the middle class.

But really, from what I can tell by asking my friends and people I chat with at Occupy LA, the middle class are those who make under $1 million a year, adjusted gross income, either from work, investments or a combination thereof.

Sounds like a reasonable 99% of Americans.

Occupy LA One Week Anniversary: Festival Against the Machine

 

 

Saturday marked the one week anniversary of Occupy LA, to celebrate festive live music and cake. People made screened tee shirts, painted, talked, danced and wandered about the Occupy LA encampment, dropped off donated goods, shared fruit from their trees. Bands played all day and special guest Tom Morello delivered a spirited set and stayed to chat with Occupiers.

There were over 2,000 people strolling through the park as well as close to 400 campers. The 9-11 Truthers, LaRouchettes, Revolutionary Communist Party,  Ron Paul-bots, and End the Feds joined in, passing out their information, while the bacon wrapped hot dogs sizzled on the sidewalks outside the park.

Also present, the Oath Keepers, a group of men and women–retired and current law enforcement, military and other peace officers who feel their duty is to the people and the constitution, and that the rights of the citizens come before orders from their commanding officer. As one told me

If your given the order to crack heads on a peaceful assembly, you don’t. We are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not to blindly follow orders.

 

Photos 1, 2 and video: Tyler Wysocki

Occupy LA Day 2: Dudes Abide in Peace

Well, things are going pretty smoothly at Occupy LA. A mini-tent city which now holds about 300 people most in their 20s and 30s, though there some in their 40s and upwards, and an array of Anonymous. Drum circles, a massage table, dogs and a crystal healing area make it a mini-fest, while the bacon wrapped hotdogs lend a truly Angeleno flavor (they are a revolution in food!).

There were groups doing signing making and others holding meetings about media training, outreach and other matters.Names are placed in a “stack” (the list/queue), you state your point and people wave “spirit fingers” (peace symbol) for yes, wave hands for applause/enough, cross arms if they disagree. During a hot button issue,  it can look like a St Vitus dance in time to the  “Hokey-Pokey.” But it works.

A table  for volunteers is up. American Sign Language interpreters are needed, and they would also like fluent Spanish speakers, as well as those fluent in Armenian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, etc.

It’s pretty funny to see signs saying

The revolution will not be televised

since Occupy LA has been covered since it started, due in part to the major media noticing what was going on in NY. It doesn’t hurt that this a mega-media savvy city (the porta-potties were rented from Sir Reel, which supplies film shoots; I passed a slew of them parked for a shoot on Sunset Blvd as I was driving to downtown). The media tent is up and running, there are cameras and citizen journalists everywhere and Occupy LA has been in the Los Angeles Times, and on local news channels, though the KTLA story was a little histrionic. The trial of Dr. Conrad Murry in the death of Michael Jackson, just two blocks away with worldwide coverage and lots of satellite TV cameras, resumes Monday.

It has been almost 90 degrees this weekend, and rain is expected Wednesday, with cooler temperatures all week.

They have lots of food donations. One guy on his cellphone excited exclaimed

I have a tent now!

A man and woman dropped off half a dozen brand new blankets (no smallpox!) which were taken to the first aid tent. The couple happily said:

These are made in America!

A group of occupiers staged an action today where they went to the Metro and rode LA’s subways wearing bandanas decoracted with

99%

gagging their mouths. Difficulty arose when a portion of the group expressed their dislike of the policeto the police’s face and attempted to instigate a conflict. I was the the campground while there was a meeting and listened while people expressed upset over

police brutality

though the LAPD have been pretty much ignoring the City Hall campers, even when a few overstayed on the lawn pass the deadline of 10:30pm. LAPD headquarters is across the street (as is the LA Times).

There have been no arrests, so police brutality is not an issue for Occupy LA  yet, as more than one speaker pointed out. And it be an issue won’t be unless agitators try to provoke things. Granted there are people at Occupy LA who have experienced police brutality in other communities and in other circumstance, but trying to provoke the police to get that specific point across is simply short-sighted and selfish. It puts the entire Occupy LA at risk, and creates fissures in the group’s cohesive ideals and integrity. Seriously, please find an “affinity group” elsewhere.

“Hey, the cops are being cool!”                                  This man discussed the French Revolution

Monday night at  5pm, Occupy LA, or at least those so inclined, will march in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street to protest the mass arrests this weekend and last weekend’s macings and arrests. Hopefully the those dislike the LAPD will find it in their consciences to look at the bigger picture, stay on the sidewalks and cross on the green lights.

Looks like the City Council is behind the occupation, at least in the short term. Blogger/filmmaker Clay Claiborne shared this letter with me from LA City Councilman Richard Alarcon which kinda spells out how it’s gonna be, unless people start making trouble.:

A lone, and empty police car is parked at LAPD’s headquarters, Parker Center, across from City Hall.

The dudes abide. In peace!

Occupy Los Angeles: Totally Awesome!

 

Los Angeles knows how to throw a demonstration: Prop 8′s demos were great, Chanology was epic, and May Day 2007 made world news and changed the LAPD riot repsonse. So I was expecting some goodness re: OccupyLA, even though, from their Facebook page, things seemed a little disorganized –like camping at City Hall despite sprinklers going off at 8pm, no porta-potties, fear mongering that we’d all get pepper-sprayed, questions about access for the disabled, and worries about what to wear (sunblock goes with everything!).

Well, kudos to the General Assembly for pulling it off. We gathered at 10am at Pershing Square, and the National Lawyers Guild was there to let us know our rights to have a legal march and rally. Then the General Assembly convened to explain the march route. One person spoke and the crowd repeated it back. Works wonderfully. There were about 1,000 people at Pershing Square with great signage, plus a few of the usual fringe-types expressing their complaints that the United Nations was on U.S. soil taking away our sovereignty. Um, okay…Plus there was an Oath Keeper. The Green Party, ILGWU, AnswerLA, RCP, Dems, prison reformers, moms, dads, straights, gays, young, old, families, single people, anti-war vets, Anonymous–and so many more that make up the City of Angels.

As we marched the 7 blocks to City Hall, I noticed no one in my clot of protesters (except me) gave change to panhandlers, which I thought was weird. We got lots of horn honks as we walked, and the Los Angeles police were out in force stopping traffic. Many people thanked them and the cops smiled.

At City Hall we were pleasantly surprised to see porta-potties, plus a first aid tent and a welcome booth with a printed schedule of events. By now our numbers had doubled. No food trucks, but the bacon wrapped hot dog vendor was doing big business. Yes there was a drum circle, but also a group of girls pogoing to punk rock on a boom box.

-

Recycling trash cans are needed, and really, people should not litter, nor simply drop the fliers they don’t want on to the ground!

Lots of honking from cars driving by the City Hall lawn, which had hours of operation posted clearly on copier paper stapled to trees. The park closes at 10:30pm, but sprinklers go off at 8pm. The big announcement: OccupyLA had secured a contract with Transit TV — which is broadcast on all the city buses– to provide a daily news minute! Huge.

A G4 wireless set-up is being arranged and a video team is getting set up, plus there are plenty of cameras from bloggers, as well as a Channel 9 (CBS local) van and Channel 34 (Spanish language). I did not see any signers for the deaf, but that may change. Please get those!

One sign that caused chuckles (and for some, confusion):

John Galt Can Go to Hell!

So far so good. Food Not Bombs is serving dinner at 5:30, Billionaires perform at 7:30. I am cruising by tonight to see the sleepers, and then tomorrow I am spending more time there, and will continue to do so.


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