Inside Occupy Los Angeles…. A Touch of Paranoia Out Front and Frenzied Activity Behind the Scenes
By Larry Alger for the WallStreetSwindler
I managed to get to downtown LA this evening to spend about a couple of hours with the Occupiers to try and catch up on what has happened over the last four days in my unplanned absence. When I rolled up I noticed that Univision had a full on satellite truck, a support van, plus both a Suburban and Minivan with staff, all parked on the East side. They were apparently wrapped up because they left shortly after I got there, leaving me a prime parking spot to unload the things, including some gasoline, food, water, and sundry items, I brought down for donations.
The serious, WE-Are-Here-To-Stay Occupiers that are down for the cause I talked to first told me that much has happened to segment the camp into North and South camps. The occupiers that do believe that the American People have been duped, wronged and stolen from have worked to relocate the vital hubs of the Welcome Tent Food Tent Donations Tent and Media Tent(s) from the North lawn to the South Lawn. Recently, according to a few people I spoke with, the north side has become the de-facto camp where the drum circle and many of the hard core homeless have squatted. One woman I spoke to tonight said that she was no longer comfortable hanging out on that side at night, and in fact moved her tent from “the skid row side” to right next to the sidewalk on the south.
Something that seemed to lend some creditability to her view was an increased police presence I had here to for not seen in the evenings. Many more black and white units circled the block, and pairs or more of uniformed officers regularly walked the sidewalks in increased numbers and frequency. Other officers came out of, then back into the City Hall building, circling the upper level at the top of the stairs on both the North and South sides. Prior to tonight, I have only seen this kind of presence on those crowded weekends where large crowds come to see what OLA is about. With the larger crowds on hand, the LAPD strength in numbers does make good sense. But the question now is, why is this happening when it is just the occupiers doing the business of the General Assembly and peacefully camping? Is the LAPD aware of the tensions between the two predominating factions on the lawns, and want to be on scene “Just In Case”?
Some other of the regular occupiers told me that they fear this stepped up LAPD patrol as a possible prelude to an Oakland style eviction of force move by the City. In fact much of what I saw in the General Assembly, of which I saw a small portion before having to leave, was discussion of contingencies for such an assault by the police. Proposals for Stockpiles of Vinegar and vinegar soaked bandanas to combat the effects of pepper spray and tear gas were put forth. There was talk of requesting donations of gas masks from the public at large through the web site. One real occupier I have spoken with many times since Oct 1 said that his little group all had gotten either motorcycle full-face helmets with shields or construction hard hats to keep close at hand, “Just in Case”.
I also noticed that someone had encased the monuments in the park in plywood, and a few people there had begun to use them as canvasses for “People’s Art”. By the look of the construction I must speculate that the city was responsible for this “Protective plywood encasement” job.
There WAS a larger than average crowd for the GA tonight, including many more folks who did not look the part of the usual occupiers. While the non-occupier looking folks did run the gamut, there were a number of men in shirts and ties and women in slacks and some heels that I would bet are not sleeping in tents on the lawns. They did not look like they were there to just “People Watch” either. Their attention was focused on the conversations and actions of the Assembly. While “Weekend Warriors” attending OLA General Assemblies have been kind of a norm, most of those kind of folks have not ventured out for the Assembly meetings I’ve attended on weeknights. Looks like that may be changing too.
Much of the activity tonight behind the scenes of the GA was people busily reconstructing the media center in new tents. They are working hard to put together a new media center where more advanced video production, beyond just the 24/7 live stream, can be done, and a newspaper, The Occupy LA Times is in the planning stages.
Personally I do not believe that OLA is in jeopardy of an eviction by force in the near term since the Federal Court in Nashville just ordered a temporary injunction staying any further eviction of the Occupiers there. The court ruled that it violated their First Amendment Rights of Free Speech. I am sure that the Mayor and LA City Council are following THAT one closely. And THAT my friends, is another story to watch very closely as well.
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