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.