Downtown business group focus of occupy protest
Occupy activists and homeless advocates continued their planned seven-day demonstration last night in front of the offices of the Central City Association, a downtown business advocacy group.
Activists argue that CCA influences city officials to draft policies that benefit wealthy interests at the expense of downtown’s poor and homeless residents.
Pitching the occupy movement’s signature tents on the sidewalk, protesters displayed placards, sang songs and ate food provided by Food Not Bombs.
Yesterday’s protest is part of what demonstrators are calling “seven days of siege” of the CCA, which began on May 29. The action is being coordinated by Occupy LA, Occupy the Hood, Occupy Skid Row and the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
Becky Dennison, LA CAN’s co-director, explained the protest revolves around CCA’s advocacy for aggressive policing policies that critics say criminalize the poor and homeless.
“Early on, the redevelopment plans that they supported called for the displacement of tons of low-income housing and we were able to fight that back,” she said. “Right after we were able to win those housing preservation victories is when they brought in the cops to just continually harass, cite, arrest and abuse folks in public spaces.”
According to its website, the CCA represents business interests before city council, the board of supervisors and the state legislature. They advocate for the redevelopment of downtown by arguing for cohesive urban planning, changes in building codes and, one would assume, a better life for all.
“We play a pivotal role bringing business, government, cultural institutions and citizens together to build a better economy, a cleaner environment, and a better quality of life for all Angelenos,” states CCA on its website.
However, activists argue CCA is only serving business interests and view the poor and homeless as an obstacle to creating a chic-looking downtown that is attractive to LA’s wealthy.
“There’s plenty of room in downtown for everybody,” said Dennison, “and if downtown is to flourish and develop, that means everybody needs to be uplifted.”