Mubarak, Gaddafi, Assad – they should all have taken
lessons from Los Angeles on how to suppress an uprising driven by young people
against the failure of oppressive regimes.
In just the few weeks since the Occupy L.A. protesters
were rousted from the grounds of City Hall – two months after they received open-ended
official support for their encampment without a single voice in authority
objecting – the movement is struggling to redefine itself even as City Attorney
Carmen Trutanich and his slavish cohort Dennis Zine want to sue them for
Listen to what the audaciously ambitious Zine told Larry
Mantle on KPCC’s Air Talk on Tuesday and in this brief excerpt (Zine-AirTalk.wav) in which he says in his usuel fork-tongued way that city officials supported the Occupiers when they were only angry at faraway Wall Street and the bankers. But they went too far when they started turning their attention to the Skid Row homeless, foreclosures in L.A. and the corruption at City Hall.
This is a city government that boasts of its liberalism,
its commitment to the First Amendment and the rights of everyone yet in the
name of what the mayor called “constitutional policing” ran roughshod over the Constitution.
They kept the protesters in handcuffs for seven hours, locked them up in
cruelly overcrowded conditions, held them on $5,000 bail for citation offenses
and then got them barred from City Hall as a condition of their releases.
So much for the First Amendment!
But it worked to a degree. Occupy L.A. general assemblies
are less frequent and the numbers are down. They are trying to raise money to
print an edition of their newspaper Occupy L.A. Times for distribution at the
Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. They aren’t going away or
giving up and some of the protesters are starting to look closer at issues
directly affecting the lives of people in Los Angeles.
For their part, some long-time community activists in
Neighborhood Councils and other groups are looking to connect with Occupy L.A.
to work together to help solve the problems of the 99 percent starting right
here in L.A.
Some of those activists have put together a resolution to
be considered by the Pico Neighborhood Council (OLA -PicoNC Resolution.pdf) next month that
combines the ideas of the Occupiers and the long-standing concerns of so many
L.A. residents. It calls for the elimination of special interest money from
city political campaigns and the exclusion of special interests from
governmental processes that should be honest, transparent and inclusive.
It would be the marriage of ideals, energy and people that
I believe is the only way at hand to actually begin to affect change as we head
into a 15-month period when the President, Congress, state Legislature and City
Hall offices are on the ballot.
The iron fist of those in power has shown what it can do
when the numbers are relatively small. But in far-flung lands where repression
and authoritarian controls are so much greater and more overt, we have also
seen just how much power people have when they come together in unity and
This is what I believe and have tried to do something
about as a newspaperman and as an activist through the Saving L.A. Project,
L.A. Clean Sweep and the OurLA.org citizen journalism project. A lot was
achieved through those efforts even as they failed in the end.
Failure is just a learning experience, an opportunity to
try again with greater knowledge. Many people on both sides of what amounts to
a resistance to government by special interests see the opportunity for change
that now exists.
The question is whether we find the common language and
common ground and come together into a real movement that isn’t about tents and
talk but about changing the balance of power and about creating a far more
dynamic and democratic society that does a better job of meeting the needs of the
people than Washington, Sacramento and L.A. City Hall have been doing.