occupy LA

This is America

This is America people. Earn your keep. Use your God given, hands, legs, head, brain, and heart and fight for what you want. Don’t expect the government to support you, or to take care of you. Yes, they will to an extent, but those dreams you have, those aspirations you wish to achieve: YOU have to make them happen. The reality is the value of the dollar is universal to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between, and it effects the choices being made. When the government makes a decision, it has the country’s and their own best interest in mind. They are not thinking about you as an individual. Stop complaining about what’s not being done for you, and start doing something for yourself. Stop waiting to be spoon fed like a child. Stop sucking on the government tit. You are an adult. You are a more than capable individual. So whether you are the 99% or the 1%, earn and fight for what you want, and never expect anyone to give it to you.

-The Average American Citizen

LAPD uses excessive force, NPR ignores and apologizes for them

I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.

I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.

At 9 a.m. we were finally taken from the pavement into the station to be processed. The charge was sitting in the park after the police said not to. It’s a misdemeanor. Almost always, for a misdemeanor, the police just give you a ticket and let you go. It costs you a couple hundred dollars. Apparently, that’s what happened with most every other misdemeanor arrest in LA that day.

With us Occupy LA protestors, however, they set bail at $5,000 and booked us into jail. Almost none of the protesters could afford to bail themselves out. I’m lucky and I could afford it, except the LAPD spent all day refusing to actually *accept* the bail they set. If you were an accused murderer or a rapist in LAPD custody that day, you could bail yourself right out and be back on the street, no problem. But if you were a nonviolent Occupy LA protestor with bail money in hand, you were held long into the following morning, with absolutely no access to a lawyer.

I spent most of my day and night crammed into an eight-man jail cell, along with sixteen other Occupy LA protesters. My sleeping spot was on the floor next to the toilet.

Finally, at 2:30 the next morning, after twenty-five hours in custody, I was released on bail. But there were at least 200 Occupy LA protestors who couldn’t afford the bail. The LAPD chose to keep those peaceful, non-violent protesters in prison for two full days… the absolute legal maximum that the LAPD is allowed to detain someone on misdemeanor charges.

As a reminder, Antonio Villaraigosa has referred to all of this as “the LAPD’s finest hour.”

Thank God news outlets like NPR are all over what happened there that day. Here’s what NPR has to say about it:

In the end, there was very little force used, in part because this is a new LAPD. It exercises much more restraint than it once did

Thank God for NPR, or we might actually learn about what the LAPD did to Occupy LA!

Main: http://fatlace.com/main/hellaoccupylittletokyo-meet-december-11th-2011/

Hello Guys & Gals! So in light of all the current events that’s been happening around the world with the whole #OCCUPY movement. Also with occupyLA just 1 City block away from IllestBoutique. I thought about a totally funny random scenario of what if we did that with cars?… Occupy a full city block square block of all modified cars… I laughed, Vince laughed & everyone I told got a nice kick about it… *10 minutes later* Lets do it!!!!

So on December 11th 2011 the morning after AutoconLA. With the support of our local neighbors & friends in Little Tokyo (RIF LOS ANGELES, BowlsLA, IllestBoutiqueLA, StandardFunctions:Parts&Scooters, Royal Origin, NightImport.com CanIbeat.com, Team Supastar & Autoconevents)

We’ll be occupying 4 streets surrounding Little Tokyo. I’ve high lighted the streets in the image below. Cars will be gathering as early as 5:30AM. Since this will take place on a Sunday metered parking is exempted for the day! This includes all day parking on yellow loading zones. Im very sure the streets will meet capacity that morning so I highlighted a second area in yellow (Office depot/Starbucks lot) for the remaining cars to park. This event will go on from 6AM-Noon. Illest Boutique will be opening doors at 9AM for all the early birds and will be giving 15% off on all items in store during the meet. A special event sticker will also be given out that day to the cars that attend the meet! Stickers will be distributed by staff at attendees cars.

To all those who attend.. This meet will be on city streets so please park correctly. We are not responsible for cars being towed and/or cited.

-Make sure your cars are in designated parking zones. DO NOT park in redzones, commercial loadingzones, and/or double park
-Make sure your you guys have your front license plates on your car! Meter maids will getcha there fast I seen it.
-Again your are NOT required to pay for parking on sundays in little tokyo but private parking lots may require you to pay (bring some parking money)
-Please conduct yourself in a professional manner! No ricer flybys, burnouts or showoffs this is not nascar find a spot and park!
-Keep the noise to a minimum & please please please clean up after yourselves!
-Most restaurants & beverage places have public restrooms for customers only. So grab a snack or a drink. Be curious to our neighbors.

So set your alarms early, come out, dress up warm, Grab a spot, get a warm cup of coffee & enjoy your morning in LittleTokyo! See you guys there!!



A Tale of Two Occupations: Los Angeles and Albany

In Los Angeles, the occupation has the support of city and local officials:

(Los Angeles) passed a resolution voicing support for the (Occupy L.A.) movement. (Organizer Matt) Rolufs was thrilled when city officials said that Occupy Los Angeles had inspired them to move forward on a policy initiative to demand accountability from big banks.

While protesters in other cities have battled with the police, Los Angeles is letting around 700 people spend the night on city hall’s lawn even though it’s against the law. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even handed out ponchos to campers during a rainstorm. But the city council went even further in its resolution by urging implementation of a proposal known as the Responsible Banking program because it would address some of the protesters’ concerns.

And in Albany, they don’t… but they get help from unexpected places:

In a tense battle of wills, state troopers and Albany police held off making arrests of dozens of protesters near the Capitol over the weekend even as Albany’s mayor, under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, had urged his police chief to enforce a city curfew.

The situation intensified late Friday evening when Jennings, who has cultivated a strong relationship with Cuomo, directed his department to arrest protesters who refused to leave the city-owned portion of a large park that’s across Washington Avenue from the Capitol and City Hall…

“We don’t have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble,” the official said. “The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor.”

A city police source said his department also was reluctant to damage what he considers to be good community relations that have taken years to rebuild. In addition, the crowd included elderly people and many others who brought their children with them.

We’re making progress.

Here's an awkward post-mortem for the Occupy L.A. movement: Reports that the LAPD went undercover and infiltrated the movement.

Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week’s raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters’ intentions, according to media reports.

None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

This is one of the more alarming things to come out of the Occupy L.A. movement, which was noted for having a decent relationship with the city before the encampment’s closure.


Media reports say Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment in the weeks before Wednesday’s raid to gather information on protesters’ intentions. 

A police source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing tells the Los Angeles Times that none of the officers slept at the camp, but tried to blend in to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police.

Nearly 300 people were arrested during the pre-dawn raid at City Hall Park.

Police are downplaying the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked.

LAPD Officer Cleon Joseph declined an Associated Press request for comment on the reports.

The story was first reported by City News Service.

(Source/Photo Credit)

Occupy Wall Street and Labor: The Closest of Strangers
Michael Hirsch  February 10, 2012

     A sign on a lower Broadway storefront window just one block south of Wall Street reads “I can’t afford a lobbyist, so I organize.” The sign, one of many put up by Occupy Wall Street activists, sits inside a cavernous street floor space the United Federation of Teachers lent gratis to OWS for storage and coordination. The UFT, like other city unions, can afford lobbyists—subsidized by its own members through voluntary contributions. Like other city unions it operates an extensive volunteer political action arm, and massaging or muscling elected officials is seen as key to improving members’ wages and working conditions. And, like other unions in a state boasting the nation’s highest concentration of union households and home to the largest number of Fortune 500 mega-corporations and public-sector-union-averse think tankers, it also organizes aggressively.

     Organizing and lobbying are tactics used by the Transport Workers, Service Employees, Communications Workers, AFSCME and Unite-Here, too—key supporters of the Occupy movement nationwide. Yet the slogan hints at outstanding contradictions between two movements that view the world—at least right now—quite differently, even as its activists are building warm relationships with each other.

     What labor and Occupy share is a common enemy in corporate America. What else shared is not so clear. Much of the discussion at a recent forum on “Can the Labor Movement and Occupy Wall Street March down the Same Road,” sponsored on Jan. 27 by The Murphy Institute, a graduate labor program at City University of New York, was about fostering dialogue and the need to see things from others’ perspectives. Certainly the plague of joblessness, growing economic inequality, environmental genocide, needless military adventures and federal and state policies that reward the financial industry even after it sunk the economy are all powerful incentives for cooperation. But substantively, in my view, very little was exchanged.

     Occupy Wall Street is a movement that eschews political demands. Its blogs are rife with comments that demands in themselves validate government and reinforce the social order. That sentiment, wrong on its face, embodied at least a smart tactical move, initially. It maximized participation, mainstreamed a radical slam at the rich and powerful and restated Jack London’s classic charge against business: “you have mismanaged.” In one moment, Occupy switched media attention from the growing federal deficit to the venality and homicide of corporate society. Occupy has returned a sense of “them and us” to the American psyche. It is, as panel moderator and author Steve Fraser said, a movement that is inherently “anticapitalist,” and “using liberated language.” It’s allowed,“ said panelist John Samuelson, president of the city’s subway workers and bus drivers union, "labor contracts to be concluded because the other side doesn’t want job actions” in the era of Occupy.

     In the same vein, Mario Dartayet-Rodriguez, organizing director for AFSCME’s District Council 37 , sketched the two movements’ similarities, saying that “Despite differences over politics and the ballot box, no one else has the same view of the concentration of power,” adding that “As long as wage disparities and joblessness exist, there’s plenty of room for collaboration.”

     Tammy Kim, staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center and an active member of the Occupy Wall Street Immigrant Worker Justice Working Group, gave examples of wage theft committed against immigrant workers. She reminded listeners—if indeed we needed reminding—that organized labor (or as she unfortunately put it, “Big Labor”) is just one part of the working class.

     Amy Muldoon, a Verizon repair technician serving as liaison between her Communications Workers district and Occupy, and whose union donated mattresses, walkie-talkies and other supplies to the occupiers, said Occupy’s attraction came from “class anger at 30 or 40 years of attacks,” and how the occupation was “incredible and intoxicating for those of us who slog in the unions.” She said the rage contained in OWS was effecting “a groundswell for change in unions and against organizational inertia.” She even quoted German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, about movements advancing and retreating “but always leaving a footprint.”

     I’ll even add that culturally Occupy legitimates giving the risible finger to the invisible hand, something that is not just the bravado of a subculture but a rational and helpful political act in itself

     Is any of this enough? Is any of it, well, bankable?

     Samuelson, whose union was the first of many in New York to embrace the occupation, said the number one question for the day was “What can each movement learn from each other?” Fraser, whose book “Every Man a Speculator,” is a withering critique of Wall Street, said that while collaboration between the two movements was crucial, activists had to be aware that the movements diverged in terms of structure, demands, political perspectives, as well as over tactics and strategies.

     "These differences need to be worked on, and that’s what we’re doing today,“ said Fraser said.

     A worthy goal, but it didn’t happen. To me, the meeting was more an exercise in mutual validation and less an actual exchange of ideas and experiences. There was a lot of talk of "dialogue,” but it was more monologues on parallel tracks.

     All speakers praised Occupy’s focus on horizontal organization as a replacement for what they saw as a prevailing bureaucratic mentality, but there was little recognition that labor’s problem is structural and not (or not primarily) cultural. A fixation with horizontal organization as a cure-all doesn’t take into account the legal and contractual strangleholds holding unions back, leaving it, instead, at attitude problems. Sure, the laws, the timed contract system, even the lack of a political party that speaks unambiguously for working people, aren’t permanent roadblocks, though Samuelson admitted that getting unions to change direction “was like turning the Titanic.” Certainly the top-down union structure allows leaders too much sway to cut side deals and too little incentive to empower members. But is lack of imagination really labor’s Achilles’ heel? Is changing the “culture” of the unions just a matter of style or substance?

     And where was the recognition of Occupy’s own dirty little secrets: that the General Assemblies enable one individual to stymie the will of thousands; where endless debates restrict decision making to those with the time and energy to occupy 24/7—giving the edge to those without jobs or families—and where, as in one New York case, a workgroup focusing on demands was effectively neutered not on the merits but after daring to change its own internal workings to require a 75 percent supermajority on decisions when consensus failed. Then there’s the predilection for confrontation. Civil disobedience is a powerful weapon, but too many encounters with the police—at least the ones not provoked by the police high command—were done with little preparation or even sufficient legal observers present. Ouch!

     OWS activists consider nonhierarchical structures and open sourcing to be the indispensable condition for good social organization if not prefigurations of the good society. With all its talk of consensus, OWS boils things down to a minimum. At its worst moments, it’s a talk shop with meditation. Labor, for its part, is hierarchically structured; its message is crafted (hopefully with input from the bottom up) but its democracy is centralized. It’s the leadership that speaks. Unions—the good ones at least—see democracy as the basis for mobilizing members for a goal and training activists. Then they prize representative democracy as a good in itself, a tricky proposition no less problematic than is the participatory alternative. There’s also a tendency for even the most social-justice-conscious trade unionists to give breathtaking critiques of corporate greed, yet their solution is a one-shoe-fits-all electoral involvement. Political action is at best one part of a solution.

     And of course union leaders are not blameless. If they were, we wouldn’t need a blog called Talking Union. DC 37, for one, was generous with its meeting space, allowing two separate labor-oriented workgroups to hold weekly meetings, which are still going on. But that didn’t stop AFSCME’s International Executive Board from endorsing President Obama for re-election with hyper-exuberant language, stretching credulity to claim this much failed president deserved re-election on the merits, rather than because the GOP is so god awful and dangerous. The February issue of Public Employee Press cites AFSCME’s President Gerald McEntee as saying in pure Occupy speak, how “Obama is the only choice for the 99 percent.” It quotes Lillian Roberts, the DC 37 executive director on a counterfactual, that “Obama is a proven fighter whose stand on economic, political and social issues demonstrates strong support for protecting the rights of working men and women.” Gee, Lillian, wasn’t McEntee’s saying “we’ve got no choice” sad enough?

     Of course, there are good things both movements can learn from each other, and dialogue should facilitate that learning, but it won’t come without engaging each other, too. Right now, solidarity between the two movements is as broad as a football field and shallow as the turf. It can’t be allowed to stay that way.

     The possibilities of real dialogue are exciting. The OWS may be inherently anticapitalist, but it’s worker-lite. The Labor Movement breathes the language of class, but is only anticapitalist in the final instance. Until then, it’s all negotiable. For now, unions straddle the fence between defending labor power and selling it. OWS could give up its biblical prophet pose and talk about real solutions, while unionists could explain their legal and contractual binds and the real inhibitions on making every member an activist, including how plenty of workers vote Republican, as every political director knows. (Keeping that number below 30 percent is considered a victory). That’s an exercise that could give fresh thought to ways of breaking those binds. That’s a discussion that should happen soon.

     Instead, OWS activists segregate themselves into work groups with little in common with the larger OWS. The two labor workgroups comprise union activists, officers and staff. It presents some interesting possibilities for joint work between elected leaders and shop-floor militants, but these can’t affect the overall OWS sensibility. An exciting labor solidarity project to help locked-out union art handlers at the tony Sotheby’s Auction Gallery got a lot of media play, but was done largely by unionists affiliated with OWS. For too many of the rest in OWS, it was the spectacle at Zuccotti Park that counted. That and the drumming.

Michael Hirsch is a veteran union activist and a member of the New Politics editorial board.

Many Occupy L.A. protesters arrested during demonstrations in recent months are being offered a unique chance to avoid court trials: pay $355 to a private company for a lesson in free speech.

Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter said the city won’t press charges against protesters who complete the educational program offered by American Justice Associates. 

The 1st Amendment is not absolute,” he said, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled government can regulate when, where and how free speech can be exercised.

But a civil rights attorney who has worked closely with the protesters called the class “patronizing,” and said the demonstrators who were arrested are the last people needing free-speech training.

There they were exercising their 1st Amendment, their lawful right to protest nonviolently,” said attorney Cynthia Anderson-Barker.

There have been more than 350 arrests at Occupy demonstrations in Los Angeles since protesters first set up camp outside City Hall in October.

The tuition will go to the company, not the city, officials say.