Campaign to ‘occupy’ LA is growing

September 24, 2011
By

A demonstrator in downtown Los Angeles attempts to spread the word about a growing “Occupy LA” movement, which is critical of corporate greed and political inaction. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)

A movement, similar to the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration occurring in New York, is building in Los Angeles.

Today, protesters hit the streets of downtown to spread the word of their crusade. Later they joined a rally in front of City Hall with the environmental group 350.org. Approximately 70 activists attended.

Void of any discernible ideology or politics, and comprised mostly of youths, protesters are expressing their displeasure with Wall Street greed, corporate influence in politics and the overbearing power of the super-rich over ordinary Americans.

At the core of the movement is a criticism of the state of American democracy, which some call a plutocracy, or even a “corporatocracy.”

“Corporate interests seem to be controlling both parties,” said Ryan Rice, who attended today’s actions. “The ‘little man,’ the ‘American every man,’ just isn’t getting their voice heard. When you need $35,000 to donate to a campaign to get your voice heard, to have a meeting, that’s not democracy,”

Rice is a student of political science at Chapman University. He recently began working with Peace Action West as a canvasser and, as he says, “getting his hands dirty” with activism.

Despite whatever criticisms people in the movement may have regarding wealth distribution, the financial system or greed, says Rice, he doesn’t see it as an attack on the capitalist paradigm.

“There are elements that are anti-capitalist, because we are so inclusive,” he said. “But I think, given the nature of how we’ve seen capitalism go with these bailouts, I would say we can embrace that a little bit, because we can acknowledge that our capitalist system is broken.”

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration is in its seventh day. On its first day, it was estimated that close to a thousand protesters showed up. Since then, according to activists, the number of people joining the action has been growing. Demonstrators have been camping out in Liberty Plaza near Wall Street, as Police stopped them from occupying their intended target.

There have been reports of arrests and police abuse posted on OccupyWallSt.org. One YouTube video shows protesters being herded into a pen and being maced by New York City police.

Since last week’s “U.S. Day of Rage,” which was a nationally-coordinated solidarity demonstration with New York, activists in LA have made attempts to occupy Pershing Square and City Hall’s south lawn. Both attempts have been thwarted by police.

Heidi Sulzdorf, who has been assisting in organizing the Occupy LA actions, says the campaign must be a sustained action, not the typical one-day protest. She says they are currently “testing the waters for occupation,” trying to find a location where law enforcement will leave them alone.

It is the intention of activists, says Sulzdorf, to conduct an occupation legally, but absent of assistance from the city, attempts to occupy will continue.

“There is also an underlying [attitude that] permits are intended to make it so people can’t assemble and can’t exercise their democratic rights,” she said. “If it becomes too complicated, if the bureaucratic process is clearly obstructionist, my temperature of the group is that they will do it anyway. That hasn’t been voted on; that’s just my personal assessment.”

Aside from the heavy youth involvement, Occupy LA actions have also been heavily Internet-driven. Members of Anonymous, an online “hacktivist” group, is involved, and tools such as Google Docs, Twitter and Tiny Chat are utilized to facilitate communication.

Absent from the recent demonstrations are long-established political or social justice organizations. The rally with 350.org, which centered on climate change, was purely fortuitous.

“We are aligned conceptually; our hearts are in the same place,” said Luke Massman-Johnson, who organized the 350.org rally. “Corporations are causing a lot of damage in this country on all fronts. So in that sense, the people I’m railing against about climate change are often times the same people that are causing problems for their campaign.”

Tina Urban, 25, came from Orange County to participate in Occupy LA. She said she came to LA mainly to “see people coming together for what they believe in.”

“The main issue here is the economics, but really it breaks down into a collapse in democracy as it was intended to be, or as we feel it should be,” she said. “We were all so complacent and beaten down in a lot of aspects, that the fact that people are willing to stand up is amazing in and of itself.”

Urban, like the movement she is participating in, doesn’t advocate a particular solution for the problems the United States is facing. She expressed little confidence in the solutions of the past and feels new ones must be tried.

“I don’t think the specific demands are as important as the fact that it’s a group of people standing up for the different things they believe in,” she said. “Because every time you see someone standing up for something they believe in, it makes you more likely to stand up for what you believe in. So, that will spread, and that’s what’s important.”

More Occupy LA demonstrations are expected, but at this time none are confirmed.

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20 Responses to Campaign to ‘occupy’ LA is growing

  1. john on September 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    yup, that’s how it felt to me. very promising.

  2. kt on September 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    meeting in pershing square tomorrow at 7pm.

  3. Heidi Sulzdorf on September 25, 2011 at 1:55 am

    We have dispersed community outreach planned for Sunday and then a 7 pm GA at Pershing Sq.

  4. Winston Smith on September 25, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Good blog, I follow with interest, from the Basque Country, Spain.
    http://cultureleaks.wordpress.com/

  5. Sy on September 25, 2011 at 2:08 am

    IT’S OOON SEE YA TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. PJ on September 25, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for sharing this info with the community. For 8 days the MSM ignored the Occupy Wall Street story. Sadly it took police brutality & 80+ arrests before the cries of the people were heard by MSM press. Publications like laactivist.com are sorely needed, especially in times of such blatant media censorship. We appreciate you and We stand in LA, in Solidarity with the people of NYC & the world. Tonight Angelenos meet for a GA – SUN. SEPT 25 – 7pm GA Pershing Square

  7. Dee on September 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Chants: “Abajo con los bancos, arriba con el pueblo!” “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” “You are the 99%. Walk with us!”

    California, join San Diego, Oct 7th! Downtown San Diego | Gaslamp Quarter @ SD’s Financial Hub ♥

  8. Debra katz on September 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Hi! Please put me on your mailing list! I wanted to suggest that recruiters for your group
    Come to the Conscious life expo this weekend at the
    lax Hilton , where there will be thousands of people attending
    Whom most will be sympathetic to your cause. I’m going to
    Be speaking there. You might want to contact the producer
    Of the event and see if he’d give you a booth for a discount, or allow you to hand out literature. Those attending are people interested in helping others and politically are probably all in alignment with your concerns.
    I’ll do what I can to pass on the word to my contacts. Thanks for doing all you do! Debra. Ps…. You should get some LA celebrities on board!!

  9. Goyakhla Ghandi on September 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    You are restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you LA activist. Thank you Occupy wall street, thank You Occupy LA Thank you defenders of Democracy. When we achieve economic democracy then the American dream can be restored.

  10. Caroline on September 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    We are with you! Please spread the info about your plans far and wide…this is an exciting time <3

  11. GenErik on September 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I was at pershing square tonight for the GA. Very promising and inspiring. Real democracy at work here people!.. I cant wait to see what happens next.

  12. Marco LunaMan on September 26, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Spread the word on Facebook, twitter. the Anonymous web-olution has started.Educate yourselves how the corporate media tries to control YOUR mind. Fight back voice your concerns.

  13. Eric Hernandez on September 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Why did i know about this!? Thanks you LA Activist spread the word! i really want to attend the next one! please put me on your mailing list.

  14. Roksana on September 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

    How does one find out about future events and demonstrations? I live in Los Angeles and I would love to get involved.
    Thank you so much!

  15. Kirsten on September 26, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Please keep us posted on how to join the events/demonstrations… I also live in L.A. and want to participate!! ALL WE HAVE IS NOW… WE ARE THE ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR…

  16. William on September 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I live in LA let me know how to get involved in this movement. I’m for it all the way. The Nation is waking up finally, I’ve waited so long!

  17. Sean on September 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    We covered both #OccupyWallStreet and #OccupyLA on G4 today and will see you all there on Saturday. Keep fighting the good fight.
    http://www.g4tv.com/videos/55479/occupy-wall-street-fights-corporate-greed/

  18. Elizabeth Moody on September 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Keep me updated.

  19. TR on October 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Where is the occupy LA this sat?

  20. Ronald Richards on October 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Would like to support

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