Occupy LA Day 4: “Stay as Long as You Need, We’re Here to Support You”

 

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The Occupy LA Livestream is up and running. When the mods are sleeping, there are re-runs of the past days: General Assemblies, marches interviews. And a live chat as well.

The LAPD has been cordial and all is well. Tuesday’s rain passed over downtown, but now on Wednesday, it’s definitely coming down everywhere. Heavy duty trash bags  are ready for the rain to cover signs; tarps are needed.

Yesterday, City Council president Eric Garcetti and fellow Council members Bill Rosendahl and Ed Reyes showed up to talk to protestors, along with Dennis Zine, a former registered Republican who told the Los Angeles Times:

It’s the right thing to do. We could just drive by them, or we could go talk to them.

Garcetti, who announced his run for mayor last month, told the protesters:

Stay as long as you need, we’re here to support you.

This morning Council Member Rosendahl will introduce a City Council resolution supporting the protesters.

SEIU leadership paid a visit, as did the janitors union. Both unions expressed support. Today Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa is supposed to drop by, but no time has been set. News crews were present again yesterday, and KFI640 AM talk show hosts John & Ken aired  a positive (for them) interview with an Occupier; they teased the piece by saying

Wall Street, something needs to be done about those goons.

Conservative-ish John & Ken are under fire for giving out the  business phone numbers of an immigration reform activist on air; the phone numbers were listed on a press release. Jorge-Mario Cabrera received  over 400 calls from angry, nasty and at times violence-proposing listeners  opposed to the DREAM Act, and there are demands for advertiser boycotts and for John & Ken’s firing.

Volunteers have secured a commercial kitchen and are preparing three meals a day. Donations of food are gladly accepted. The medic tent said toothbrushes would be very welcome!    Showers are becoming a necessity, with solar showers being discussed as an option. Handicapped porta-potties are coming on site, but donations are needed maintain the porta-potties; they cost approximately $3,000 a week. Recycling has been set up.

A hairdresser has offered to come down and give haircuts. An on-site silkscreen studio has been set up and is printing up tee-shirts, kerchiefs and patches. The items are made from donated fabric and tee shirts (turned inside out to obscure logos) and are given away. The guy manning the screens was wearing a hat printed with

1/21/2010 Never Forget

the date of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

I asked some office workers waiting for the bus at City Hall what they felt about Occupy LA. One man replied:

Freedom of speech.

Another responded:

Wall Street is a problem.

The woman in the group said:

This is good. We need something to change.

Painter Alex Schaefer was also there, completing a plein-air work featuring the buildings of Los Angeles in flames. Up in the corner on bare canvas was scrawled

Symbolism

Schaefer, whose painting of a burning bank caused some upset, sold the work for over $25,000 to an anonymous European collector via eBay. Two weeks ago Schaefer was outside the Federal Reserve building completing a painting of the building aflame, when he was questioned by the Department of Homeland Security, who like the police in the prior incident took down his information, hence the written note on his work in progress. Laughed Schaefer:

They are art fans!

My last conversation was with Michael who lives in South Central and spent 14 years in and out of jail and prison.

My mother is my guiding light. She never gave up on me . . .

he told me, as we transitioned from a discussion about the names of the four guardian angels of the elements. (Yeah, it’s LA which explains soooo much about why this is a mellow, proactive scene).

While I was locked up, I read and studied, I got my AA degree. I come here to Occupy LA every day and sit and listen. And I have been talking to people and on they want me to lead a teaching.

Occupy Santa Barbara has not experienced the same cooperation with the police that Los Angeles is enjoying. Last night two Occupiers in de la Guerra Plaza, a city park, chained themselves to a flagpole and were removed by the fire department after the police had informed the crowd earlier in the day that protesting/camping in the park at night was against city code. Eight people, including the legal observer were arrested, while others stood on the sidewalks and cheered.

Meanwhile, this from the Washington Post:

QUESTION: Have the “Occupy Wall Street” protests reached a level of the President’s engaged awareness? Is he sympathizing with the protestors? Is he concerned about the protests at all?

CARNEY: I haven’t discussed it with him. I’m sure he’s aware of it because he follows the news. I would simply say that, to the extent that people are frustrated with the economic situation, we understand. And that’s why we’re so urgently trying to focus Congress’s attention on the need to take action on the economy and job creation.

Late Night FDL: LAPD Sends Out Cops over “Incendiary” Painting

Painting as crime? Seems freedom of expression in art is subject to police investigation if it makes “someone” uncomfortable.

Well, the LAPD got curious about plein-air painter Alex Schaefer’s work when he set up his easel outside a Chase Bank building in Van Nuys, the Valley portion of Los Angeles. Shaefer told me when I spoke with him this afternoon that over the hours as he painted away, passersby stopped and chatted with him, laughing, at times bemoaning their mortgage re-fi nightmares.

Then a pair of Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers rolled up on Schaefer, who teaches at Pasadena Art Center and has exhibited throughout the city, as he was putting the finishing touches on his work which showed the Chase building with its roof aflame. Seems “someone” had glimpsed the bearded artist at work and felt

threatened.

according to Schaefer’s account to the Los Angeles Times. Threatened? By a painting!? Wow.

Schaefer explained to the officers that his work was

intended to be a visual metaphor for the havoc that banking practices have caused to the economy.

As we were chatting, Schaefer told me that when he was starting out as a naive young artist he’d researched the New York art market and realized

The same players in the art market are manipulating Wall Street and the economy.

Schaefer, who does his banking at a small community bank, is working on a series of burning corporate bank building paintings which will be part of the Disaster Capitalism show at Inglewood’s Beacon Arts Building in February. Wanna bet there will be some undercover officers, possibly FBI in attendance, simply based on the show’s title? I’m gonna charge up my camera batteries for opening night now that the First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it’s legal to video tape law enforcement!

The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public place is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

After jotting down Schaefer’s information–minus his social security number which he declined to give–the cops left him to his easel and palette. Case closed. Time to catch some real criminals.

Schaefer had told the officers that a terrorist wouldn’t stand for hours in plain view painting his target, but apparently the LAPD disagreed and two days later a pair of plainclothes detectives paid him a visit at his apartment while he was working on another piece of art, asking

Do you know why we’re here?

Shaefer replied

Is it about the painting?

Schaefer told the Times they also asked:

Do you hate banks? Do you plan to do that to the bank?

What’s next? Investigating some kid who’s playing a cover of “Los Angeles is Burning” on the piano?

Schaefer showed the detectives some of his work and discussed the meaning behind them. And then they left. Which is good news.

Even better news: Schaefer is capitalizing on the police visits and subsequent press by auctioning off the piece on eBay. The irony would be if his piece ended up in a corporate collection. Plus, an attorney who read about the artist’s travails has offered his services pro bono if he has any further trouble–like when he tries to get through airport security.

Chase Burning, Alex Schaefer 2011. Used by artist’s permission


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