PETA-philes Scream at Kids, Insult Los Angeles Circus-Goers

Last night the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus opened at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and I went as the guest of the very lovely and talented milliner Satanica Batcakes.  We were dressed in glamorous finery and feathers, as befits an opening night, and were prepared to revel in the joy of the circus.

But I wasn’t prepared for the hate-filled circus outside the Staples Center: Hundreds of anti-circus protestors,including dozens of kids who looked confused about why they were holding signs, demonstrating on the sidewalks against Ringling Bros alleged mistreatment of elephants. The LAPD was on hand too to make sure things didn’t get too ugly as families led their stunned children past the screaming PETA-philes waving posters and chanting. As I walked through the barriers set up to keep the protestors out of the Staples forecourt where clowns juggled and made balloon animals, several women screamed in my face–and in the faces of children, holding on to their parents’ hands:

They beat elephants! Don’t go to the circus! You’re supporting animal cruelty!

In November, 2011 

an agreement was reached where Feld Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Feld), will pay a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

According to a USDA press release, Feld also agreed to “develop and implement annual AWA compliance training for all employees who work with and handle animals, including trainers, handlers, attendants and veterinarians starting March 31, 2012, and to establish an AWA compliance position on its staff by February 28, 2012.”…

CEO Kenneth Feld said in a statement, “We look forward to working with the USDA in a cooperative and transparent manner that meets our shared goal of ensuring that our animals are healthy and receive the highest quality care.”

Ringling Bros, though Feld Entertainment. runs the Ringling Bros Center for Elephant Conservation, established in 1995 and located in Florida. The center has received praise for its care of Asian elephants and its breeding program. it is also a retirement facility for circus elephants.

Last night’s angry exhibition by animal rights’ groups was really hostile and felt kinda like visiting a women’s clinic with and anti-choice crew outside. Except there were children involved. Kids getting targeted and yelled at.

This tour has Johnathan Lee Iverson as ringmaster. Iverson was  the first African American and the youngest ringmaster Ringling Bros history. Man, he can sing! The theme was Dragons, which was little forced–dragon concepts culturally appropriated from north, east, south and west were thrown into the mix with faint plot about gaining courage, strength, wisdom and heart via the various acts which represents the directions and the virtues. It was thrilling to see the Shaolin monks do their mind over matter show, and the women who performed acrobatics using their hair was really mind boggling. I loved the performing horses, ponies, mini-donkeys, goats, llamas, dogs and kitties–domestic house cats performing tricks! Seriously, so amazing! And totally cute!

The elephants  performed for less than ten minutes and from our seats in the eighth row center, they  looked very healthy. No prods, sticks or whips were used. But the giant cat act, a combo of tigers and lions, made me uncomfortable. All the big, wild cats seemed annoyed/pissed off/cranky with the exception of the placid male lion who just look bored. Satanica told me that their snarls and swats were all rehearsed. Still, I just didn’t like it. I would have rather seen more dogs and ponies! And house cats!

By the time the show was over, PETA and their pals had packed up their shout-a-thon, replaced by a bacon-wrapped hotdog vendor.

Considering that the widespread, wholesale use of antibiotics in factory farmed chickens is leading to super strong E. coli–and contributing to hard-to-shake bladder infection in women, PETA might want to adjust their targets and  tactics. Rather than screaming at parents and children about circuses, maybe PETA should stand  outside chicken restaurants with signs proclaiming:

Eating chicken can give you bladder infections.

I didn’t shoot this video, and I do think, despite the angles being weird, it shows that the protestors were um, a bit rude.

Occupy LA Day 27: No Police Action per NLG & LAPD, Food Arrives, and Controversial Radio Team Broadcasts Live


Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyer’s Guild, Los Angeles, was on Randi Rhoades’ radio show Wednesday night and said the following, which was typed out during Thursday’s livestream chat and read durng General Assembly:

I have just been assured by Sargent Baker, who speaks for the LAPD on OLA, that the ABC report upset the LAPD because they have absolutely no plans to move against, attack, etc. OLA. Baker said the LAPD was as surprised as we were to hear [councilman Bill] Rosendahl say what he said. Baker said the Chief’s position is that, “If the council decides there must be some change in OLA, we will all sit down with OLA and NLG and have discussions about what the council wants and what the OLAers want. Jim,please tell them we have no plans to attach the occupation and will NOT do that.”

Tuesday Rosendahl was on local KABC-TV and said:

They’ve made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it is time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The grass is being impacted. Other activities that we need to do on the lawns are being put on the back burner. I frankly think if we can be civil about it, they should get the message that it’s time to move on from our lawn at City Hall. It is everybody’s lawn, not just those with their tents right now.

However in Wednesday’s city council meeting, Rosendahl said he was taken out of context/edited.

The comments from the LAPD’s Sgt Baker to Lafferty of the NLG have definitely allayed some of Occupy LA’s fears, as did deliveries of food from Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund (100 jars of peanut butter, 70 lbs of fruit, and loaves of bread) and the Santa Monica farmers market which dropped off even more fruit and loaves of bread. On top of that bounty, Mary and her mom, who sell bacon wrapped hot dogs, donated their wares to anyone who came by their cart.

Mary also spoke at General Assembly because she and her immigrant mom have been hassled by a couple of the 99% for vending just outside the park. She said that they are struggling too, that they work hard and she is in school and wants to be a lawyer. I’ve eaten a lot of bacon wrapped hotdogs in LA, and the ones from Mary’s family are definitely awesome! And while there is no vending in the park per city regulations, there’s no reason this delicious food, a Los Angeles tradition, can’t be sold just outside the park limits.

Local rabble-rousers John & Ken of radio station KFI–who recently angered immigrant rights groups for broadcasting the phone number of a pro-DREAM Act activist (which was on the guy’s press release)–came by Occupy LA. John & Ken aren’t all bad: They have been loudly calling for the ouster of Fullerton city council members and the police chief over the beating death of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton patrolmen; and by devoting three hours to Occupy, and giving the Occupiers the opportunity to speak about why they are there, to tell their stories, John & Ken were actually supporting Occupy. Over the weeks Occupy has been at City Hall, the anti-government corruption duo has expressed displeasure with banksters, saying that

Wall Street goons ought to go to jail

and today’s show gave listeners a direct unfiltered view of Occupy LA. The Occupiers were, for the most part, clear, direct, informed and personal in their responses to why they are there and what they hoped to see accomplished. John & Ken were also outraged over the actions in Oakland. Despite their often mocking tone–especially about the lawn being damaged, John and Ken are actually subversively spreading the Occupy message to their most conservative audience.

On Sunday from 2 to 4 pm, KFI holds Occupy KFI and have invited several Occupy LA members to come on air at the Clear Channel studio and speak their pieces with Shannon Farren. KFI’s attention on Occupy is overall positive (okay there are the occasional joke about pot smoke and BO, as well as mock outrage over the lawn dying) and shows that Occupy’s overall message is catching the ears of Southern California. Thursday’s live KFI broadcast from Occupy LA is archived here.

Occupy LA still has needs: They are out of most medical supplies, including bandages, both adhesive and elastic; single use antibiotic ointment packs; powdered electrolytes like Emergen-C; hand sanitizer; alcohol wipes; single use saline eye drops; Lysol; bleach wipes; tear-off paper covers for exam tables; latex-free gloves; Maalox or other liquid antacids. Blankets are especially important as it gets colder. Thanks to Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply Fund and a private donor, I can pick up some of these items, but more are constantly needed by the LA medics, and by medics at other Occupys.

And Friday one of Occupy’s media team, Lisa Clapier is getting married on the steps at City Hall, and there are rumors of three other Occupy weddings in the works!

Here’s 30 minutes of Occupy LA and the FDL Occupy Supply funfood delivery.

Occupy LA Day Nine 9: Occupying as Usual

On Sunday  I went down to Occupy LA with world traveler and gentleman of leisure, author Dr. Paul Koudounaris, whose book Empire of Death will be featured on Firedoglake’s Book Salon October 30, and we found ourselves in the midst of an Occupy LA March.  So we traipsed along, picking up bottled water from a volunteer.

About 100 people stood on the sidewalks overlooking the 101 freeway and waved signs as cars honks and motorcyclists revved their engines. Then we charged off through Olivera Street, where tourists snapped pictures and locals enjoying a beauty pageant sponsored by a mole sauce company waved and cheered, as the scent of bacon wrapped hotdogs wafted through the air, ending up back on the freeway overpass before returning to camp.

At the camp, things were buzzing along. I spoke to the Zero Waste team who are working hard to make sure that there is, well, as little garbage as possible. Recycling containers are set up, but what they say would really help is if they had a large supply of reusable bowls, forks and spoons.  The Los Angeles County Health Department had visited and said everything was tip-top and that the kitchen crew was doing everything right. The inspectors reminded people to wash their hands before eating or handing food, and suggested no cantaloup because of listeria outbreaks.

A handicapped porta-potty is now on site, and an American Sign Language interpreter has volunteered.  The camp now will also  have a Spanish language live stream. Occupy  LA is looking for more bi-lingual volunteers to assist in interpreting.

People are hanging out, meeting each their neighbors, talking, finding common ground, people who under other circumstance might never have met. Is there an unified goal? I think so. I think everyone wants the same thing: A safe place to live, enough food, and congenial companions. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The sum of these is the American Dream.


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 3: Sign Here!


This is the city. This is Los Angeles. Occupy LA has moved to the smaller north lawn of City Hall because a movie is shooting on the south lawn.

I don’t know the title, but I know that Ryan Gosling is hot!

exclaims an Occupy LA  volunteer at the media tent. Gosling didn’t stop over to say hi to the Occupiers, but the coordinator, multi-tasking at a computer, pack of Pall Malls and pad of paper as people ask her heaps of questions, said that she took a few extra breaks to catch a look at the Drive star.

The movie is Gangster Squad, a true tale about the Los Angeles Police Department’s efforts in the late 1940s and 50s to keep the mob out of Los Angeles. Sean Penn co-stars as the notorious Mickey Cohen.

City Councilman Richard Alarcon had dropped by earlier in the day. And Rocket Pizza delivered pizza! NBC, ABC, and both CBS stations had broadcast  trucks parked  and reporters scouring for interviews. There is no media blackout, but the media might get bored.

During General Assembly the announcer thanked the LAPD and the city council for allowing the Occupy LA to continue to assemble without permits, which are in the works. A huge round of applause went up and continued as the speaker introduced Vincent from Occupy Wall Street.  Vincent informed the crowd of almost 200 that the Occupy Movement was now in 70 cities.

Vincent said he was amazed at how organized Occupy LA was in only three days.

There are more people here tonight than we had in three days. You have a microphone, we didn’t have a microphone.

Tall, with a shaved head and full sleeve tattoos, Vincent said he is a anarchist and after he started doing Occupy WS, he saw how true leaderless government worked.  After much hand-waving and applause from the Occupiers, Vincent stepped back , Rose from La Puenta stepped up the mic with her story. A  single mom, Rose was late on a mortgage payment and the bank began foreclosure. She has decided to stay in her house and invited any Occupiers who would like to join her.

Come on down. There are fliers with my address.

La Puenta is twenty miles east of City Hall.

Next up, Brian from the International Workers of the World who began to explain how the consensus process works (basically if you like it or can live with it, don’t block it) which is designed to give everyone an equal voice and avoid power dynamics.

To keep groups from getting shut out, women of color. Queers.

Much applause and cheers from the LGBTQ in the crowd.

Then I overhead

How cute! A mom and her daughter just came with sandwiches they made!

My friends, Teresa the voter registration lady and her daughter Ava had arrived with a tin of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a huge stack of voter registration forms, which were very hard to find; there were none at three post offices, but luckily the post office at by the Grove, a celeb-studded outdoor mall had a huge stack.

I walked around with Teresa and her eight-year old as they asked people if they were registered to vote. The majority said yes, but those that weren’t happily took forms. Voting is important says Teresa because:

The three branches of the government are bought and sold, but the people can’t be. It’s not just electing officials, there are lots of propositions on ballots. And  judges.

Theresa also dropped off a stack of the forms at volunteer tables. One volunteer, who I had spoken to yesterday, asked her if she thought he should tell his boss–he works in finance and having just come from the office,  was wearing a button down shirt and tie–that he is spending his evenings and weekends at Occupy LA.

Ava and I ate bacon wrapped hotdogs–her first!–to celebrate her first time at a political event and we finished strolling around the camps.

This mornng I woke up and the rain had started. Occupy LA needs tarps, blankets, socks and toilet paper. They would also like reusable bowls, drinking glasses and flatwear which will be passed out to campers and washed to cut down on waste. There’s a PayPal donation button here, along with more info about what is needed.


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


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!