Friday, October 28th, 2011
123

The Night Occupy Los Angeles Tore Itself In Two

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, the 300 people who have been occupying the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall for the past three weeks split themselves into two hostile camps.

Occupy LA’s decision-making body, the General Assembly, has been responsible for conducting the encampment’s business. As in most other cities, the participating members handle everything from ensuring the nightly meeting take place to doing financial research on Los Angeles-based bankers to cleaning up the trash. But on Wednesday, a large group of dissenters decided to occupy the General Assembly’s usual outdoor meeting space and assert themselves as the new regime. One man, standing at the center of the swirling and increasingly unruly crowd, yelled into a megaphone, “You don’t represent us anymore! We’re taking over! We’re the People’s Forum!” Rumblings of dissent and palpable animosity had been mounting in the camp throughout the afternoon. Informal meetings were held around the clock to hotly debate an issue that had factionalized the camp: weed.

There are two things that strike you when you come upon the Occupy LA encampment. The first is the sheer density of the tents: not a single thatch of grass pokes through; the lawn is bursting with tents and spray painted signs that carry slogans about everything from 99 percent to Wall Street criminals to 9/11 conspiracy theories. The place is packed. The second thing you’re likely to notice is the undeniable thick scent of weed smoke in the air. This is a curious aroma, given that the encampment is lodged between the California state courthouse, the offices of the City Council and LAPD headquarters.

Occupy LA is also three blocks away from Skid Row, the city’s biggest open air drug market and homeless encampment. Some people claim that the drug use in the Occupy camp is a spill-over effect. Those who buy drugs on Skid Row, especially the homeless, can smoke in a safe, free space among the Occupy tents, instead of buying an hourly room in one the crime-riddled slum hotels along 4th Street. Other people in camp claim the drug problem is homegrown.

Drug use has been a key conservative talking point used to undermine the various Occupy camps around the country. In Occupy Los Angeles, though, smoking weed has become a wedge issue dividing the camp into increasingly entrenched groups.

As one original organizer of Occupy LA described it, "on one side there’s the hardcore Politicos-Get-Shit-Done process freaks and on the other are people who think they are starting a new society."

Smoking weed cuts to one of the main dilemmas within a leaderless, horizontal, movement like Occupy Los Angeles: who makes the rules? Who enforces the rules? Going even further: should there even be rules? Is this a narrowly focused social movement bent on economic reform through massive but nonviolent participation? Is it a petri dish of something new?¹ There is a wing of the Occupy LA that sees their encampment as a radical new mode of living; one that not only rejects income inequality, but any sort of action that enables one group to represses any other. This means contempt for anything like a parliamentary up or down vote, or adopting the same drug laws as 'the outside.' When someone lights up, especially during daylight hours, there is an instant sense of polarization between those who are willing to behave and those who aren’t. Finally those differences exploded.

* * *

Earlier in the day, Kat, a twenty-something blonde with a big beautiful Slavic face and dirt underneath her fingernails, convened an affinity group at the north side of City Hall to discuss adopting Occupy New York’s code of conduct: no drugs, no violence, no abuse. If the affinity group could come to a consensus, then members of the group would make a formal proposal to the General Assembly recommending that the camp adopt the ground rules. About sixty people were in attendance for the afternoon meeting. Most were young, many were Chicano, there were some purposefully well-dressed young white guys in collared shirts and ironed pants who were not camping but regularly attending meetings. There were a few older people in the group with the vibe of being life-long professional activists. About six men donned the traditional anarchist garb: pulled-up hoodie, black bandana around their face, an implacable look in their eyes.

“I don’t understand why people who want to smoke weed can’t just go across the street to do it?” one young man in camouflage shorts and black sweatshirt said. About half the group raised their hands up and twinkled their fingers in agreement.

Another young man stood up, clearly agitated, and began pacing around the inside of the circle: “Is it alright if I stand in the middle of the circle? I don’t want to be too domineering or anything. Ok, right, it’s like, if you create a code of conduct, it’s like you’re creating a separatist doctrine. You’re creating an Us and a Them. Why do you guys want to act like cops? It’s the cops’ job to divide us! We left society to avoid them. Why do you want to bring that shit here?” Kat thanked him for speaking and moved on to the next person who had signed up to talk.


Speaking slowly with a tense edge to his voice, a man in dark sunglasses asked the crowd, “What the fuck is wrong with us? Why are we talking about this instead of figuring out how we’re going to hold a vigil for the Oakland protesters who were gassed last night?” This time people started to clap. Things got increasingly more heated and more abstract—"Are you going to call coffee a drug?"—as each speaker entered the circle. Those who were in favor of the code of conduct were accused of wanting to purge outsiders and create a two-caste structure within the camp. Those who opposed the code were, indirectly, called selfish and short-sighted.

Ideological disputes on the nature of law, order, and a group’s ability to self-police continued for the next two hours. At a few different moments it seemed as though the group would be swayed to recommend the code of conduct but inevitably someone (usually with a black bandana around their face) would demand to know how the camp would enforce the rules. "Who’s going to take responsibility for kicking people out of the camp?" When no answer was given, the debate would kick up again, and spiral, and go off the rails.

Eventually, there was so much interruption, and rancor, Kat found herself overwhelmed and snapped at a woman who had continually tried to speak out of turn. Breaking away to have a cigarette, Kat told me that she absolutely believed a code of conduct should be passed but was certain that the issue would not even reach the General Assembly for some time. "We’re having too many growing pains right now," Kat said, and exhaled smoke and tossed her hair to the side. "But I’m sure we'll figure something out," she said, with a polite smile. By the time Kat finished smoking, the group had collapsed with no clear resolution for the General Assembly that was set to take place in an hour.

* * *

The General Assembly is made up of self-selected committees charged with dealing with nearly every facet of camp life. There is a committee for food, research, demands, media, facilitation, sanitation, "zero waste "and arts. Every General Assembly meeting begins with a ten-minute update and then about two hours of reports from various committees. At the end there is an open discussion. On Wednesday, the General Assembly had invited members of the Los Angeles City Council to join the meeting, in an effort to display that the City’s concerns about sanitation and waste were being addressed. A few council staffers were spotted at the designated time for the meeting. They did not stay long.

Because even by the time the General Assembly was ready to meet at 7:30 p.m., things were unraveling. A large group, made up almost entirely of men, stood in a circle denouncing the General Assembly and their efforts to "police" the camp, particularly regarding drinking or smoking weed. Anyone who spoke in favor of a code of conduct was aggressively booed. Adding to the morass were four different men looping in and out of the circle, each armed with his own megaphone, shouting their own grievances and rhetoric. When a runner from the General Assembly made the announcement that they would begin the meeting, he was thunderously shouted down, then someone yelled out “The GA is dead!” and the crowd erupted in both celebration and shock: "We don’t want you or your fucking procedure!" One male protester, in an army helmet and no shirt, cried out as shoving matches erupted between several groups of men. The young man who was leading the informal group yelled: "This is the People’s Forum! There are no committees, there are no rules, everyone gets to speak. Get in a circle! GET IN A CIRCLE!" A majority of the crowd abided, although they were openly chastised when the circle took on non-circle shapes.

A facilitator from the General Assembly tried one last time to get the group's attention through a call-and-response tactic. He was shouted down by two men, one of whom was shouting directly in his ear. Then it was announced that there would be two minutes of drumming. The loud thumping gave way to spastic dancing and eventually some primal bellowing.

The People’s Forum held to their pledge to not have time limits or committees. Some people spoke for twenty minutes at a time. In the three hours that they commandeered the steps of City Hall, the People’s Forum denounced enforcing any code of conduct, cheered "ending the disease of perfectionism," spoke about inequality in the camp and outside, and, for the most part, thoroughly trashed the General Assembly.

Less than a dozen of the General Assembly members were left standing in their original meeting area. Eventually, they gathered a small group to meet on the other side of City Hall. About thirty more joined the small group within the hour.

They sat cross-legged on the cold cement, and debated whether they should spend the evening attending to usual business or reviewing how they had just been overthrown. They spent the next two hours discussing the People’s Forum.

In the end, no code of conduct has yet been adopted by either the General Assembly or the People’s Forum.



¹ There is also a third scenario, one that I feel is most likely. Occupy LA is a large collection of fringe folks, similar to a typical contingent found at any large protest. Yet for reasons greater than the Occupy Movement can control, they have not been able to attract the participation of more mainstream elements at, least not in Los Angeles. There is, for example, no regular presence of labor unions, left-leaning non profits, or any of other hierarchical group. That may be by design: if these groups, which are well-organized and have a centralized leadership, were to show up they would most likely be greeted with suspicion and hostility. There is a distinct and protective feeling within Occupy LA of "This is My First Movement." Yet it’s no wonder there are protesters at City Hall, even if they are fringe. The real question is, where the hell is everybody else?

Related: How I Got Off My Computer And Onto The Street At Occupy Oakland
Why Should We Demonstrate? A Conversation
Occupy Boston: The Glory And Imperfection Of Democracy
What Does The Bonus Army Tell Us About Occupy Wall Street?
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Lessons For Occupy D.C.
Why the Tea Party Hates Occupy Wall Street

Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a Los Angeles-based reporter. Photographs are by Eric Spiegelman, a web producer in Los Angeles.

123 Comments / Post A Comment

Great story, Natasha. I just finished reading the bitchen new Emma Goldman bio, and it sort of crystalised for me why I haven't been there at Occupy LA: I've become the sort of "liberal intelligentsia" that Goldman loathed, since I actually still love the "bought and paid for" Obama instead of considering him a capitalist tool. Faced with real anarchists, the kind Goldman would have LOVED, I just feel old, stodgy, and centrist, and it embarrasses me. Also: so many Ron Paullers!

@Rebecca Schoenkopf Emma is so important!!! A LOT of Ron Paul bros.

deepomega (#1,720)

Really glad those tweets were the harbinger of such an excellent article. I really wish it were possible to get some demographic breakdowns of each occupation – what's the ratio of unions to end-the-fed Paulistas? Anarchists to teachers? Etc. etc.

I also wish people would stop saying things like "we left society."

@deepomega What I can't stand is the Green-meeting-style agendas that last for days until unanimity is reached. Have you ever BEEN to a Green meeting? Sweet Jesus.

wb (#2,214)

@deepomega If someone were to do a demo study like that it'd be great to know how it fluctuated by the time of day. I went in the afternoon a few weeks ago, and judging by dress, the anarchist / stoner demographic was dominant. But later it sounds like more people show up for the GA, including the collared-shirted dudes Natasha mentions.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

@deepomega WE DID LEAVE SOCIETY.*

*By going to a park owned and maintained by the government.

@deepomega My favorite quote: They "cheered 'ending the disease of perfectionism'."

How do you top that? I mean, you have diagnosed a problem, and come up with a solution. Way to take action, fellers.

– The weird thing about this is that if you say anything negative about #occupy, you're seen as a bad leftie by most supporters.

I kinda hope Michael Moore gets tear gassed in Oakland tonight. I'm sure he does too, since it would get press coverage.

I absolutely support their right to protest, and I'm grateful for the focus on things like student debt. Real results have already occurred. I hope that they realize it. If they don't find a way to exit with some grace, that will undermine the whole point of the original protest.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

@DoctorDisaster
But … it's occupied.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I can't go to Occupy because I am afraid that man would be mean to me.

Abe Sauer (#148)

"Then it was announced that there would be two minutes of drumming." The first time I encountered serious Protest Drumming it was in the WI capitol rotunda. Inside the dome, the drumming, while at times "incessant," served a purpose of leaking the din into the deep legislative chambers, making sure all there knew the protest was still going strong. But drumming out in the open?

Anyway, this great report, along with its Oakland twin earlier, just reinforces my theory that the #occupy movement is taking on regional peculiarities and, ultimately, its demands will break down accordingly. For example, in WI the occupy protests have, not surprisingly, been heavy with "Recall Walker" messaging. In the localities where there is already strife afoot (Oakland, Wisc., Ohio, Michigan) the entrenched activists with ongoing movements are naturally guiding the movement to speak in macro-goals (BANKS!) but still achieve on a local level (recalls, exposure of, and possible reform for, Oakland's simmering police-citizen relations). In Ohio, unions have bear hugged the movement on their way to defeating Senate Bill 5.

As the movement flames out in many places (and it will, especially where it's getting cold), the best hope is that its energy will be absorbed by these movements and channeled to (righteous) already existing causes.

@Abe Sauer I thought that too about the WI drummers! They were a tactical force.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Natasha Vargas-Cooper And I have to say, the drumming was especially effective at night. http://youtu.be/ndWWCUNyTgg

@Abe Sauer ahh! CHILLS! The whole thing made me nostalgic for Madison.

@Abe Sauer Apparently the Occupy Wall Street drummers are upset with the General Assembly for not providing them with money to replace stolen instruments/equipment.

Astigmatism (#1,950)

@Abe Sauer Occupy Boston will inevitably demand that Red Sox pitchers only munch on vegan snacks in the clubhouse on their off nights.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

> As the movement flames out in many places (and it will, especially where it's getting cold)

Next spring may turn out to be interesting.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@dntsqzthchrmn Possible, but as a general rule social movements tend to lose momentum with surprising celerity, without a galvanizing point (like, say, an election). I'd be surprised if OWS gets back to current force should it hibernate for the winter.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@Danzig! See you at the National Conventions.

Katie Walsh (#168,039)

This is great. However, this quote entirely sums up why I will not go to Occupy LA "Then it was announced that there would be two minutes of drumming. The loud thumping gave way to spastic dancing and eventually some primal bellowing." Sorry, I JUST CAN'T HANDLE THAT.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

So much this.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Katie Walsh The revolution will not be danced to.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Fine, but if we are paying attention to Lili's piece, what we really ought to do is to go over there and help sort it out, which I plan to try tomorrow.

RetroChristal (#7,123)

Occupy LA needs some help. I can't wait to check it out this weekend, but honestly I can't handle drum circles….

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@barnhouse Gooood luck I live across the street and the more I try to suggest better ways of doing things the meaner they get.

@Katie Walsh : God, seriously. Drum circles are great for changing people's minds and attitudes, if the mind is mine and the attitude is "I support your cause".

@Last Resort@twitter As I've already said, please speak to the City Council & ask them to get the non-Occupy LA people out of the park. Unless I am mistaken, the Resolution in support of Occupy LA did not include people outside that group.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – How can you tell who is with and who isn't with the group? It's not like you all have uniforms. If you're in the camp then make note of the issue and do the footwork yourself. I've been talking with CIty Council on my end. I know I wont be voting for crony Jan Perry and I encourage anyone in crony Bill Rosendahl and crony Richard Alarcon's districts to not vote for them ever again, either.

@Last Resort@twitter It's very obvious to the Occupy LA campers who is participating in running the camp and furthering the aims of the Movement and who is merely a hanger-on looking for free food and a 'cop-free zone'. Occupy LA has no authority to move the troublemakers and free-loaders off city land. They are belligerent and potentially (and sometimes actually) violent and would not shift even for the Farmers' Market. If I understood you correctly the City Council is apparently, and very cynically if you ask me, leading the neighbors to believe that all campers at City Hall are associated with Occupy LA. The City Council offers no help and seems to be rather amused by the predicament Occupy LA and the neighbors are in.The LAPD will remove no one unless they perpetrate an actual physical assault (which has happened). I am in support of the protesters aims but am constantly worried for the safety of my young-adult son and daughter who are at the encampment several days a week. Perhaps you could make yourself known at the Welcome Tent, meet with some of the protestors and approach the City Council together. I'm sorry I cannot join you but I am a wheelchair-bound shut-in.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – I wont be going to the grounds of Occupy but like I said, if you have names and incidents and proof … i.e. pictures, video and documentation then send them my way. I am writing up several stories on pinkertons in your camp.

Not to hijack your comment thread, Natasha, but if anyone's up for it, I have a story today on protesting the Occupy LA protesters protesting the president. http://fourstory.org/features/story/protesting-the-protesters-protesting-the-president

freetzy (#7,018)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf Oh my God, people really voted for Nader twice?

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@freetzy You know what's crazy? Some people plan on voting for Obama twice.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@Matt Cornell Yeah, some 50+ percent plan on voting for Obama twice. Thank goodness.

Astigmatism (#1,950)

@Matt Cornell It's funny how some people thought that John McCain would be a terrible president and also think that Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Herman Cain would make terrible presidents.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@Astigmatism All of them would make terrible presidents. I hope you won't begrudge me voting for a third party candidate.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

A couple of my best friends are die-hard Naderites. I support the idea of third-party candidates, when you feel your views aren't being adequately served by the mainstream party — nothing says "ignore me" like "I'll vote for you guys no matter what." If you're playing the long game, sometimes making it difficult for the slightly less unappealing party can be better for you in the long run.

However, I take serious issue with their defensive delusion that Nader didn't act as a spoiler for the Democrats. The whole point of a third party candidate is to make things difficult for the mainstream guys until they start dealing with your issues. Go ahead and vote your conscience, but don't pretend you somehow didn't mean to stick it to the Democrats.

BadUncle (#153)

Sadly, this is why Occupy LA will have as much impact on society at large as Chicken John's attempted coup of Burning Man.

Note to hippies: if you want to change society, you'll have to sell it. Middle America doesn't buy ideas from threatening freaks. Note that the civil rights movement was lead by Churchy people. For reference, see March on Selma.

@BadUncle This is precisely my concern about what is happening at OccupyLA. Being undisciplined only serves to discredit and hand over reason to close down camp on a silver platter.

Guy Reading@twitter (#168,048)

The article's fantastic, and while I probably agree more with the People's forum (I particularly don't like the way that "no drugs" is almost snuck into the code of conduct- and there are different kinds of drugs- for example, weed isn't the same as heroin), I feel that The life of Brian is quite appropriate here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

metoometoo (#230)

Of course I understand why the Occupy movement should do whatever it can to appeal to the mainstream, but prohibition, while superficially neat and convenient, does not work. It has never succeeded in any society, so I don't know why anyone at Occupy LA would expect it to work for them. People are always going to reach for some sort of outlet that other people don't care for, whether it's weed, alcohol, cigarettes, drumming, or whatever, and the only sustainable policy is one that realistically takes that fact into account.

I know it's not nearly as big a deal as Occupy Wall Street, but there is a lot going on with the legalization movement right now, especially in California. I would think that uniting these largely like-minded activists would be more effective than dividing them.

@metoometoo There are MANY legalization advocates in the camp supporting zero tolerance (including medical users who go off site) because they firmly believe it's the very best way to protect the movement AND its members.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@metoometoo As Heather said – it's in the interest of the movement. Not the self-interest. PLUS illegal drugs are illegal. You might not like laws but that's the way it is. And getting drunk a belligerent isn't going to help get a very serious message out about economic disparities either. "Oh man – the economy is failing – let's get the message out by supporting illegal drugs and getting wasted in a middle-class neighborhood who don't deserve an uptick in drug related crime." Riiiiight.
Cleaning up corruption sounds wonderful but the corrupt cannot clean up the corrupt.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Last Resort@twitter Right, but there are other choices for #Occupy than explicitly banning illegal drugs and making legalization an issue. I think the smartest thing to do would be to just keep focusing on core issues and not get caught up in drama about rules. Sure, it doesn't help you get out your serious message if you're intoxicated. But neither does creating a sideshow in attempt to ban drugs. The concerns brought up by the "anarchist" types referred to in article are valid: what constitutes a "drug" (particularly meaningful in CA, where medical MJ is widespread and personal possession is decriminalized)? What are you going to do about people who violate the rules? You don't have any legal basis to expel them.

metoometoo (#230)

@SeanP Exactly. I wasn't implying that illegal drugs or belligerent drunkenness should be endorsed or encouraged, just saying that flat out forbidding those activities tends not to work very well. And since the Occupy movement is pushing discussion about systems that don't work, why not use it as an opportunity to explore more realistic ways of handling this issue, too?

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@SeanP "What constitutes?" Well … the law does. Illegal drugs are illegal. And if Occupy can't respect the law then it is no longer purposeful. Then that just leaves you with frat boy behavior and alcoholics. So say – this is a serious matter and not a frat party, take the party to the bar.

This movement is supposed to be a bottom line ordeal and the bottom line is economic failure is an adult issue. If no one wants to deal with it like an adult then the rest of the world doesn't have to take "the movement" seriously. If people can't set aside their greedy tendencies (drugs are an act of greedy behavior) then nothing will get achieved. And the battle is lost. Simple as that.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@metoometoo – Because the issue isn't drugs. It's economic meltdown. Stay focused.

metoometoo (#230)

@Last Resort@twitter I seriously doubt that it would be worth my time to attempt to explain why prohibition laws that were passed based on racist propaganda and upheld by our government at the behest of the private prison industry, the alcohol and tobacco industries, the pharmaceutical industry, etc. and are used to control otherwise law-abiding individuals might be relevant to the goals of the Occupy movement, since you sound like a NIMBY who can't see past the end of her own nose. Suffice it to say, I strongly disagree with your assertion that cannabis consumption is an indicator of corruption.

(P.S. It's kind of pathetic to +1 all your own comments, FYI.)

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@metoometoo Ooooh there you go with spouting of your philosophical interpretations followed up by equally as ignorant throat cutting. I'd be obliged to side with the recidivism discussion but you're a nasty snide gal with your shiny new opinions of the world and I also realize that problems can only really be fixed one at a time … and not with this "me now, me now!!" all at once demand.

You want progress or you want to cut throats, @metoometoo?

I'm sorry, is your addiction clouding your judgement? Glad this country isn't run just on what you want. Guess I'll flag this post up too since you don't want me to do that. You're a pointless / small person bent on derailing a good fight.

I've been there three times during the day, but haven't been able to bring myself to camp out yet. It's just utter chaos. Seemingly the people with an interest in actual change are in a small minority. Or at least I've been too put off by the idiots to find them, which may be my fault. But when you have to sift through that much chaff to find anyone at all with a grain of common sense, your movement has a problem with its image.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Justin Becker@facebook The illegal Power of Green LA Solar Panel stage and it's folks who run it are total loons. I'm listening to one of them shout angrily in my windows right now. Been asking for weeks for them to move the PA and they tell me they have 1st amendment right to illegally terrorize the surrounding neighborhood with high decibel noise without compromise. Yes I am naming some of the loony-arse chaff that Occupy has come out to say they totally disagree with.

@Last Resort@twitter http://www.occupylosangeles.org/?q=node/1370#comment-3793

Do you actually use your twitter acct?

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – yes. =)

@freetzy: Sure, way back in '96, and then in the 2000 mishegoss.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

Thank you for this report on the fractious Occupy LA organization. There are some other serious problems with the LA movement that seem to transcend the divisions over weed.

The initial organizers apparently decided from the beginning that they would obey the law and use police liaisons. This is in stark contrast to the NYC movement. The handful of arrests so far at Occupy LA protests have been of union members, and Occupy LA takes great pains to announced that those arrested are "not members" of their group. The cozy relationship with police, and the camp's close proximity to LAPD headquarters has resulted in many serious activists and some from communities of color to avoid Occupy LA.

Having renounced nonviolent civil disobedience and cold-shouldered trade unions, Occupy LA instead focuses on a vague "experiment" in civics. They've spent their energies trying to secure toothless endorsements from City Hall, breathlessly seeking to be co-opted by local Democrats. As we learned this week, such "endorsements" are meaningless, and Occupy LA has not adequately prepared its participants for the coming crackdown.

Since there's no serious class analysis or sense of political purpose at Occupy LA, it's become a vehicle for all sorts of dubious ideas and New Age nonsense. Many of the speakers booked at Occupy LA come from the "New Thought" spiritual movement. Marianne Williamson of Unity Church has been invited to speak several times. Peter Joseph, a 9/11 truther was the keynote speaker at their October 15th rally. Joseph is the leader of the Zeigeist Movement, a bizarre techno-cult that wants to bring about a future where intelligent machines make all human decisions.

The Occupy LA organizers (and don't doubt that there are leaders who made many of the big decisions before the kids showed up) have effectively squandered a huge opportunity to politicize young people who want to be a part of this movement. While young activists in New York and Oakland and around the country are discovering their power and getting valuable training in political organizing, LA is leading group meditations, talking about the Illuminati and playing pattycake with the LAPD.

For an excellent analysis, I suggest this piece:

http://la.indymedia.org/news/2011/10/248641.php

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Matt Cornell Well, I came back to this post with the intention of posting some guff about how it annoys me that "vague anarchism" seems to be the main flavor of leftism expressed by American young people, but instead I'm just going to totally agree with what you said here and below — particularly "that when you don't have a real sense of purpose, it will lead to this kind of division and conflict."

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@stuffisthings This is not my criticism of OWS generally, but specifically of the LA organization, which has spent its resources on seeking co-option from LA city government and avoiding effective tactics like nonviolent civil disobedience. The New Age indoctrination and promotion of kooky conspiracy theories is yet another example of an organization in search of a purpose.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Matt Cornell – Well it's no longer looked at as non-violent anymore either. I've been speaking with the City Council and the City Attorney since OLA refuses to respect the community surrounding it and they've all said they're aware that the group has become a huge burden but are not sure how to deal with them now since they're threatening violence if moved off the property.

@Matt Cornell You've raised some valid issues, some of which I agree with. (And I too find 'New-Age' types tiresome in the extreme, but they don't cause any harm IMHO in small doses.) I don't think your remarks apply however to every individual at Occupy LA or even most. Also, there have been some outstanding speakers at Occupy LA who are on point with the main issues that caused the Occupy Movement to come into being, especially the criminal class' destruction of our economy/society/environment and 'our' politicians' collusion with them.

Many groups have endorsed the Occupy Movement. The Occupy movement endorses no one. Occupy LA in no way seeks co-opting or endorsing by the Democrats. Party politics are seen as part of the problem, especially since both parties have been equally bought by the banks and large corporations.The President serves as a useful example in that he's disabused even the most true believer of the notion that some messiah is going to come and save us. I don't know anyone who's going to vote for him on his merits, just through fear of the Republicans.

Occupy LA does march with other groups, as do the other Occupy cities. The bank arrests you spoke of were a planned action by another group. They asked that Occupy LA step back when the time came as the other group (I cannot remember their name just now) wanted to make a statement by being arrested and wanted no confusion about who was making it.

There really are no leaders. Here's one explanation of how the Occupy Movement works: http://falkvinge.net/2011/08/01/swarmwise-what-is-a-swarm/ The ideal of personal responsibility for our political lives is very important. Leaders would be detrimental to that as they intimidate some from coming forward and cause others to assume that everything's being taken care of by the leaders so they can drop their responsibility and flip the TV back on (that's a real danger with Americans in particular, as that's what they've always been trained to do). If someone becomes too entrenched in a certain position, looking after the Library or whatever, they step back so someone else can take their place. All group decisions are made in the General Assemblies by consensus.

@Last Resort, again, I find the city officials remarks to you, going by your description, cynical at best and very disturbing. The Occupy Movement is completely non-violent. If evicted I feel confident that the protesters would resist non-violently as protesters in other Occupy cities have done, even allowing themselves to be arrested (Occupy LA has been trained on that score by the National Lawyers Guild. There has been extensive non-violence training at Occupy LA). It is the police who have been violent in those instances such as Oakland. The Occupy Oakland protesters are now back in their encampment with replacement tents and belongings provided by donors. The mayor has apologized to them.

Recently there have been a series of legal rulings in various jurisdictions protecting the protestors Constitutional rights to Free Speech/Assembly over any local ordinances re curfews etc.. Also, in the New York state capital, Albany police and State Police refused a direct order from the Governor to clear the Occupy protesters. They said that the protesters were causing no trouble, seemed to be within their rights and well represented the concerns of citizens, including the police. The mayor of Albany also backs the protesters and the city police department.

My assumption is the troublemakers at the City Hall encampment might well become violent if they were forced to leave. I do not have a solution to that, I'm just sorry that the City Council hosts them too.

You and Occupy LA are not the first to deal with this problem. I remember in the early 1970's when the authorities were first emptying the mental hospitals. A friend's husband headed up Central Library then and would see whole bus loads of former inmates dumped at the door. As the library filled up with the seriously disturbed, legitimate patrons fled. My friend's husband retired (as had already been scheduled) so I never heard what happened in the end.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – The threats of violence come from people in your camp. The Council's claims are just correlating what I hear. You have people on other discussion boards threatening violence and claiming to be in your camp. Perhaps pinkertons but still problematic. As for Oakland – Oakland had it's own set of violent protestors who threw stuff at police officers. You don't get to throw rocks at authorities and then get mad when they react. Oakland had been given fair warning. People who live across the street from Oakland Occupy tell a different story from yours as well which correlates with violent occupiers. And let's not forget – Oakland isn't really known for containing a logical and sensible set of residents in the first place.

Anyway – the basic message here Diane is that what you're "being told" on the inside and by media isn't what I, and other surrounding residents, are seeing and hearing from other sources beyond media and what the occupiers claim. Something is way disjointed and way off.

@Last Resort@twitter The Mayor's office has finally admitted "“we recognize that a number of the individuals who are on the lawn are not affiliated with the Occupy L.A. protest.” (LA Times). Ask the Mayor what they're doing there & also ask why he's hosting them. Whatever the answer ask him to have them removed.

I don't know if this was the intent of the article but Occupy LA just sounds straight up frightening. And this is coming from someone who has donated food(not money, I hauled food from New Jersey to Liberty Plaza) and actually marched with the occupiers. If that is the reaction of someone who actually supports the Occupy movements I hate to think what more conservative people will do with this.

@Matt Cornell With great respect, even though I can understand how what you described would be bad it doesn't sound anything like what the article described. What you are talking about sounds bland, unfortunate, and ineffective. What the author was talking about sounds more like a heady mix of testosterone and confrontation.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@James Jones@facebook My point is that when you don't have a real sense of purpose, it will lead to this kind of division and conflict. It's also a deeply paranoid organization. When people disagree with tactics, they're labelled "agents provocateurs." Look at this extraordinary video where a person with a dissenting opinion is branded as an infiltrator and silenced with a group ohm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkwtOBt2i1o

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@Matt Cornell Whatevs, James O'Keefe.

Dicey Troop@twitter (#168,743)

@Matt Cornell you've hit something on the head here, but do get it straight that there are many agents provocateur and paranoia is something anyone organized in a movement like this has to deal with. trust is crucial for our success, but unfair play makes it hard at times. no one is cool with this state of affairs, but it is a natural result of circumstances.

While we do have a sense of purpose, for sure, occupations without good short-term goal creation and achievement are going to have a harder time building community and staying together. For many occupations, having to be clever in resisting first amendment abrogation has been a short term goal that has created that space. For those like LA not being targeted by police violence, it is more difficult.

I hope that occupations in safe locations can knuckle down and take a leadership role in the movement by using their resources inventively and creatively. There are many viable short term goals and because of where we're at in NYC, holding down the fort and dealing with myriad logistical challenges both inherent to our location and manufactured by Mayor Bloomberg, occupations shouldn't wait for us to demonstrate them. They should take front and center, like Oakland has, and move the ball fwd. It would certainly help if the media would stop treating the Liberty Square occupation as the face of the movement, because we're just another occupation in a horizontal structure, and other occupations deserve credit and shine for what they're accomplishing completely autonomously.

chris moore@twitter (#168,117)

i'm confused, marijuana is legal in CA, so wtf, anyone who smokes weed here has a card for it, weed isn't something that's traded on skid row lol wow. that's why people smoke weed all over los angeles in public, because they have a card for it.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@chris moore@twitter i live across the street from the festival-o-asinine and have seen people on many other mind altering drugs. one dude came over by my building who was completely out of his mind. my guess is he was on angel dust / pcp. he charged at my neighbors who were trying to walk their dog at 9pm. but weed is legal if you have a card, yes. however it still undermines the message. "the economy is failing and we're all screwed – let's toke a joint because that'll show the 1%." Not.

chris moore@twitter (#168,117)

occupyLA's problem from the start has been thanking police everyday, not that you have to be mean to police, but they do whatever the police say, and now that city hall is saying they're going to move the group, i would assume the groups "leaders" from what i've seen personally would just say "oh yeah ok we'll move" the problem with this is, this is the attitude that has led to the situation we're already in. you have to be willing to use civil disobedience, it's the absolute heart of protests and movements. from what i've seen the LAPD also seem totally unwilling to arrest protestors so i don't see much of a reason to obey dumb little "laws" if you want to make a stand, make a stand, i have a feeling if it hits the fan the LAPD are going to tell the city to call the national guard cause they aren't going to carry out it's orders.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@chris moore@twitter Agreed. If the city spares Occupy LA from eviction, it will only be because the more serious and gutsy activists in Oakland have made a police crackdown untenable.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@chris moore@twitter no they're not doing ANYTHING the police say. i live across the street Chris. from 11am – 11pm everyday it's lolla-palooza / screaming rants into an illegal loud PA system pointed directly at residential homes. at first we asked them to move the PA to the north lawn so the noise would get blocked but the Power of Green LA Solar Panel stage called us detractors and told us that apparently they are allowed to illegally exercise their 1st amendment right – right into my home whenever they feel like. when asked if they understand that the 14th amendment is meant to guarantee equal protection for everyone they ignored us. so we took to calling LAPD and LAPD told us CIty Council has blocked any laws protecting residents and the area. so I called City Council and they confirmed it and said that Occupy is volatile and they don't want to set them off anymore so any minor law infractions have been tossed out. so no – they aren't listening to the LAPD because they don't have to because they're threatening violence. drug crime has gone up around here and it's rare to get an hour of peace and quiet. I'm a waitress – I can't really afford to move as my neighborhood disintegrates around me and the laws that were once there to protect my area are now being suppressed by the exact sort of nutjobs this article has pointed out. =/

@Last Resort@twitter Again, the City Council & LAPD are confusing you for their own purposes. You are complaining about the large number of scary street people that the City Council has allowed/invited into the park to intimidate Occupy LA. Can you not see you are being manipulated by the authorities? Talk to people at Occupy LA, maybe a joint effort can get the City Council to act and make the stop using the street people as a weapon against Occupy LA with disastrous consequences for the neighborhood as well.

Homey (#168,776)

@Last Resort@twitter One BIG problem with your ranting is there is no housing "across the street" from city hall. Would have to be several blocks away AT LEAST. The "loud PA system" is pointed at the LAPD headquarters and LA Times … hardly "residential homes". What a joke.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – I figured you all had your movement under control. See my answer above or below (not sure what direction it is in, on these threads anymore.)

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Homey – You could say that OR … You could just say "I don't really care to deal with the problem and I don't really care about the elderly two blocks away or the people a block away so I'll pretend they aren't there."

Homey (#168,776)

@Last Resort@twitter YOU could say that OR…. YOU could just say "I don't really care to think about over 10 million people without jobs and I don't really care about THOUSANDS of homeless living on the streets a few blocks down on skid row…… I'll just pretend they aren't there". But then again "where you are" is a moving target as you have gone from "across the street" to now "two" long city blocks away. The PA system would be hard to hear from 2 blocks away, AND is off by 10pm anyway. What a joke

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Homey Oh go cry me a river with your play by play talking points while I deal with the real issues between some logical people in your camp, the City Attorney and City Council. You're rhetoric is thoughtless and solutionless. If you want an argument – meet me at 2nd and Spring and we can just go at it like kindergartners since that is what you're more accustomed too.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I want a gif of Natasha being gracious to a robot.

@Tulletilsynet I usually spam for Nigerian banks! SPAM BANK!

A large UTLA contingent embraced the occupation last Saturday, the 22nd, and marched from City Hall to the LAUSD building, identifying themselves as part of the 99% and demanding an end to corporate domination of the educational system. The Sierra Club and its Beyond Coal campaign have been present at the occupation and have prompted discussion about LA's and America's energy future.
Your excellent article has it that labor unions and progressive non-profits have been absent. Maybe true, but its worth paying attention to these notable exceptions.

OccupyMinds (#168,196)

I'm from a small town about 3 hours north of LA. Our Occupy for the first few weeks was some marches and standing in from of BofA in this town of 30K. The 99% turned out and horns were a honking like crazy. Never saw a single finger salute. One Saturday we had 400 marching around the downtown shopping area. Amazing, even our local right leaning paper and TV station had positive stories. Occupy was here and folks had stated to express their anger and discontent. "The Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" rang through the town. Then a week ago some young men decided to start a camp in front of the Courthouse. Now camps have been set up before, like in opposition to wars. However, after a few days the homeless started to take over the camp. Hey, free food. Some one broke an arm while trying to stop a thief in the middle of the night. Well, things have been downhill ever since. The group who had been organizing the marches has split up over whether or not to "support" the camp. The campers have little knowledge of the OWS issues. I tried talking to one and he was trying to get me to believe it all the Feds fault. Sadly, he was to strung out to have a rational discussion with on any topic.

I'm mad at having had OWS highjacked by these kids. I see them as victims of Corporatism that refuses to properly fund mental health and other services that could get these kids off the street and leading better lives.

OWS has changed the conversation I just hope the RW doesn't get to change the conversation again. It seems to me that what's happening in so many camps is really a demonstration of how big some of our social problems are.

I'm looking for the next phase of Occupy to join. I think it might just be to get our good progressive Congress rep re-elected.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@OccupyMinds – I completely agree. Occupy has been occupied by paranoid schizos and the mentally inept. It's like the mental wards that Reagan cut back in to 80's have found a place to roost on the lawns of Occupy.

@Last Resort@twitter Thank you! You do understand! Occupy LA has been occupied on purpose. This is the City Council's plan to get Occupy LA to leave.

Clen (#168,608)

@Last Resort@twitter Way to be fucking ableist.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – I understand but I thought you all had it under control. I've been making suggestions since pre Oct 1st and your group has chuffed them off as something not of interest. If you have problems with the schizos then check my comment reply above or below to you in another thread. You've got yourself in a sticky situation and I am very hip to the idea that CIty Council set you up. Saw it coming a mile away but since you all refused my opinions at first, I figured you all had it "under control." Have you written OcupyNY? Have you thought about using votes instead of GA?

"This is My First Movement." Isn't that what the guy who crapped on the police car said?

laloca03 (#8,010)

am i the only one who had a Life of Brian flashback while reading this?

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

This article hits the spot. I live across the street from this madness and it is good to see that my poor experience with these people is being correlated.

To me the real tell-tale of how jacked up this group is, is with this act of almost dictatorially sounding fascist behavior: "The young man who was leading the informal group yelled: "This is the People’s Forum! There are no committees, there are no rules, everyone gets to speak. Get in a circle! GET IN A CIRCLE!" A majority of the crowd abided, although they were openly chastised when the circle took on non-circle shapes."

What it sounds to me like is this is the Stanford Prison Experiment all over again. Or a re-written version of "Lord of the Flies."

Since they moved in a block away they've made no attempt at embracing the community they've infested. They kicked out our long standing and small farmer's market because they were paranoid it was the City's attempt at screwing them. They laugh at the fact that they're costing taxpayers a minimum of $450k in property repairs with illogical arguments: "Oh you're mad about trees and grass but people are unemployed." They have access to pretty much any land at this point and everything to the West, North, and East of them has no residential neighbors but they've pointed an illegal high power "Power of Green LA" PA system directly at gov elderly homes and apartments/condos of which they have Lolla-palooza style concerts and evangelical style loud rants from 11am – 11pm everyday. When we've collectively asked them to compromise with us and to move the PA to the other side they called us 1% er, bigotted, detractors who are violating their 1st amendment right… never-mind the fact that we are all supposed to be protected under the 14th. I'm a waitress btw who can't afford health insurance – hardly a 1% er. With the annexation of skid row in their camp now they've definitely increased the aggressive drug addict/vagrant criminal behavior around here. I have to walk home at 2 am. I chose this neighborhood a year ago because it was safer than most and affordable. Now I see all kinds of weird creepers on my walk home that put me on edge. I watched in horror as some young dude, who was out of his mind on something (probably PCP), chase down some of my dog walking neighbors earlier this week.

I was really excited initially to get a chance to go over everyday and help them but since they've been so introverted and externally hostile, I haven't bothered. They really are scary people. My friend and I walked through the camp one night and we got hissed and glared at.

Occupy LA is fail. It's unfortunate but it's fail. They're abusive and uncoordinated. They aren't concerned with national solutions over their own self-promotion (ex: Power Of Green LA stage bringing in endless concerts and noise to perpetuate their business and ideology.)

This article sounds freaky – imagine what living next to it is like. It's balls. Big stinky balls.

And we have no recourse. LA CIty Council foolishly gave them permission to illegally camp without asking residents (Not voting for Jan Perry for anything in the future) and now they're eating their words. My neighborhood association is now dealing with these Council members who have admitted to us they're worried about the stability of the occupiers, especially after Oakland. LA City Council has told LAPD to not enforce any laws protecting the surrounding area from loud parties/music/PA systems, from public intoxication, from public urination etc … because LA City Council says Occupy has threatened violence and they (City Officials) have to figure out a way out of this mess now.

So thank you for writing this article and for pointing out all of the raw unfortunate bull that has become the Occupy movement here in Los Angeles – across the street from me.

Wednesday night was a positive as it aired some legitimate grievances and blew off some steam. Issues (especially that of the party people/ hangers-on) are being addressed. There is a learning curve at OLA and things will get better. OLA cannot solve all the ills of society before they address the issues that brought OWS into being.

A redesign of the encampment site to get the noisy folks moved to the north side of City Hall will help and also enable those committed to the Movement and it's goals to better focus their energies on the difficult task at hand. I hope the neighbors can be patient a little longer.

Some readers complain that OLA is allowing the CC & LAPD to keep them like pets, but maybe it's the other way around. And, as I've said before in many forums,refusing to participate while reserving the right to criticize is an untenable and unattractive position. If one doesn't like the way OLA is going, join in with other positive people and make it the 99%, as it should be, what it can be. The success of the effort to bring balance to society, the economy and the environment depends entirely on you.

And BTW,for the record, Kat is not "Slavic". She's Scots-English (see complexion)and Mescalero Apache (see bone structure).

Thanks.

raincoaster (#628)

WAIT. WAIT.

Do you seriously mean to say that people in the US rent hotel rooms just to smoke weed?

@raincoaster That was new to me too. I wonder what they call establishments that cater to that clientele?

Marie Elks@facebook (#168,557)

Do the lunatics pictured above really believe that the majority of the country is going to get behind this sort of degeneracy and insanity? Really?

In this part of the country the OLA people would be hood ornaments. What is wrong with the folks in LA that they tolerate this filth and nonsense?

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Marie Elks@facebook Marie – I for one do not tolerate it and I live across the street from it. City Council tried to be nice to them by letting them illegally camp and stay which was a big mistake. I wont be voting for Jan Perry or VIlla for anything. And I recommend anyone in Malibu Bill Rosendahl's region or right wing district Richard Alarcon, not vote those morons back into City Council again since they were the original supporters (without bothering to ask residents).

Anyway Marie – there's a new problem. I've spoken to everyone in City Hall and they all admit allowing the encampment is a mistake but now Occupy has become full blown nutty and are threatening Oakland violence if anyone tries to move them. No one wants them there, other than them and the few who don't know the whole back story of their nutty behavior and threats of violence.

Marie Elks@facebook (#168,557)

@Last Resort@twitter I feel for you, Last Resort. Frankly I would be carrying. Not a chance I'd risk my and my children's safety in the midst of this gang of thugs and malcontents.

The local authorities in these parts would not dare throw residents to the OWS wolves like that. I sincerely hope you and your neighbors remember this when the next election comes around.

As far as removing these semihominids from your city, I think the National Guard would do the trick. Give them two hours to get out, and then go in with whatever force required. Their unhinged party is so far from a First Amendment speech issue it's ridiculous.

Stay safe, Last Resort.

Marie Elks@facebook (#168,557)

@Last Resort@twitter Oh, and Last Resort, I can't imagine being in your position and hearing these tools claim to represent me. 99% my foot. Perhaps 99% of the 2% of the population that aspires to graduate 5th grade, but of the entire country? What a joke.

@Last Resort@twitter Marie Elks, Pls take a moment and recognize there is a difference between the Occupy LA protesters and the others who piggybacked into the camp who have NO interest or understanding of the OWS Movement or goals and may have mental illness & drug issues. It may be hard to be a neighbor, but harder still to have to put up with them in an encampment as crime & assault have become serious issues. It's all well and good to have a sanctioned space for the protest but less fun when one has zero authority to make the City Council's other "guests" leave.

The problem is being addressed, but without much help so far from the City Council, who seem amused that Occupy LA is struggling with a burden they are should not be dealing with & are not qualified to deal with. I think they hope the protest will be overwhelmed by the street people. Not fun for the protesters or the neighborhood.

The New York protesters have the same problem in Zucotti Park. There the NYPD openly picks up as many of the craziest street people they can find and dumps them on Occupy Wall Street's camp. They fill half the camp now. It's just another weapon to stress the protesters.

If you have any positive ideas about how to help walk across the street Last Resort & introduce yourself at the Welcome Tent. No Occupy LA people have threatened anyone. They are completely non-violent. You are confusing them again with the street people who threaten everybody. It will take all our positive energy to solve this. I wish places could be found for the street people. Maybe the mayor & City Council could open their own professional, official outdoor homeless mission (With funds clawed back from billionaire Eli Broad who got $34million in city "blight-abatement" funds from to build a garage for his museum? Just an idea.) instead of foisting some really scary people on Occupy LA. Maybe you could speak to the City Council again now that you have a better understanding of the problem.

That's not very nice. I wish you'd think about how you talk about other people. And you're also probably wrong in general: where do you think those of us who live in big coastal cities grew up, and have family?

I don't believe you're right, either. Sure, we all have different ways of living, different ways of decision-making… but there's a lot of people of diverse interests in America who are on (or nearly on!) the same page in beginning to believe that something rather specific is wrong.

Anyway, we can all start by not being revolted by other people based on some pretty minor differences. It really reads as an angry caveman, or a cornered dog.

nicadams (#168,739)

@Marie Elks@facebook Yikes. Glad I don't live in your part of the country.

Homey (#168,776)

@Last Resort@twitter Don't forget you "live across the street". If so you also live "across the street" from LAPD headquarters, LA Superior court building and City Hall/Civic Center, all in all a normally quiet area. NOT. I'm sure you would like them to move a few blocks east to skid row so as not to disturb your 2am walks home.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – Get rid of your General Assembly and use the Democratic Vote. You don't think people will vote the crazies out? Write openly and honestly about the mental degenerates. Speak open and honestly about them. I can't tell you there's an easy solution Diana because there isn't one. Read up on the Pinkerton movement. In honesty – if all else fails collect the well meaning Occupiers, write a press statement about the problem pinkertons, instate a Democratic counsel, find a new camp, and publicly inform both the press and City Council that the only ones left behind are the drug addicts and mental degenerates and if LA City Council does nothing to evict them – then City Council supports destroying a neighborhood over the real OLA'ers – because you're moving the funk out.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Homey – Was that supposed to make sense? Because it didn't.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Diana Leigh@facebook – Also from a residents POV – I am behaving on behalf of the residents and not on behalf of the encampment. I know it sounds harsh but please try to understand the predicament. Two more things. I am an investigative writer before a waitress – ;) If you have any notes you want to share with corrupt individuals, please send it my way. Find me on twitter and we'll go from there. Last thing – I am working on a possible consideration of a law suit and most definitely an article about the Adeju's and their Power of Green tax payer scam. The more backed by facts issues I can find with some of the people in your camp – the more I'll publicly write them off.

@Last Resort@twitter The Occupy Wall Street protesters are dealing with the same problem in NYC. There's no solution yet. Here's yet another article re the issue. Moving indoors as this article suggests rather negates the point of occupying public space http://www.businessinsider.com/what-occupy-wall-street-has-become-2010-11City

Clen (#168,608)

1. Why does Kat not think that cigarettes are drugs?
2. There are so many things inherently wrong with the Occupy movement that it cannot possibly be accurate in its claim of representing the 99%.
3. The U.S., in its entirety, is indigenous land. So isn't this movement of taking over land that isn't theirs repeating a longstanding history of colonialism?
4. The Occupy movement focuses on capitalism, but fails to acknowledge all of the other oppressions that tie in and circle around to capitalism (e.g., sexism, racism, ageism).
5. The word "occupy" is a pretty triggering word in and of itself. Is it really about empowerment if the connotations associated with the term is still oppressive? When I think of "occupy," I think: taking over, imposing, force, colonization.

Homey (#168,776)

@Clen Its called "freedom of assembly"

You are wrong on #1, #3 & #4 on your list. #5 has been discussed at length, as it is a "triggering" word. The governments of Japan and Palestine have forbidden the term for their Occupy-type groups.

#1 Kat is well aware that nicotine is a drug, but thank you for pointing that out to her again.

#2. That's a matter of opinion.

#3 The chief of the Tongva People, the Chief of Los Angeles, has been to the encampment to endorse and bless the protesters. An excellent man who I have known for close to twenty years. There are many indigenous people from across the US involved in the Occupy Movement. (Even Kat is Scots-English/Mescalero Apache -not 'Slavic" as the author claims, though Idk if that counts w/ you.)

#4 Not true. The occupy Movement focuses on the criminal elites that have caused millions to suffer all over the world and on the desire to both bring them to justice and to bring our societies, economies and environment back into balance. Crony capitalism may be despised but not capitalism per se. All the other oppressions you speak of are recognized as huge wrongs within the Movement and we hope to end them. Balanced societies would be a start.

And BTW, that's screen ink under Kat's fingernails (& on her jacket) not "dirt". Kat is a member of the Print Crew. The author was very busy making up "facts" all through this article. Lazy "journalism". If there's two factions at Occupy LA, I'd say it's The City Council & their scary street-people allies/troops who are invited by the city to camp in City Hall Park too vs. Occupy LA & the Neighbors.

Homey (#168,776)

@Diana Leigh@facebook I believe the "scary street people" are to be welcomed into the camps and helped. Occupy is done outdoors where these human beings are roaming. If anything call 911 to get some much needed medical help for these fellow human beings. They are the bottom 1% and should be first in line for any benefits of any Occupy.

@Diana Leigh@facebook Let me make something absolutely clear: I found Kat to be one of the most graceful and astute people I met at Occupy LA. She's a real leader and any group she is in seems lucky to have her.

Don't get cute about 'lazy journalism' . That's where YOU are wrong.

@Natasha Vargas-Cooper You may have had some valid reason for reporting Kat's ancestry, although I cannot fathom it at the moment. However, if you felt it was important enough to be included, why didn't you just ask her instead of making something up? Making assumptions about an individual's ancestry rarely ends well.

And why report that Kat had dirty fingernails? It sounds like the standard Fox News smear and plays into an unfortunate stereotype about protesters. It wasn't "dirt" as should have been obvious by observation. Kat's on the Print Crew and only had time to quickly wipe the black silk-screen ink off her hands before she could make herself available on short notice to replace an absent stacker for a meeting. How are my objections to what I see as journalistic lapses "cute"?

I'd share your other comments about Kat with her but she's in Oakland this week using her photography skills to document the General Strike there in support of the injured Occupy Oakland protesters. She declined to read your article before she left after seeing the sensationalized headline. She's got zero interest in clippings about herself anyway or being seen as a "leader".

@Homey I am very sympathetic to the victims of drug addiction and mental illness as are members of the encampment. On their own Occupy LA has rounded up as many mental health professionals as could be found to come in and try to sort out the situation and even find places for those who will go for help.

However, the Occupy Movement has a stated purpose which has drawn donations. The donors' wishes should be respected up to a point. All-comers seem to eat there but further "benefits" for all would pose a problem, considering the scarcity of resources, and probably be off-putting for donors.

Also, and most importantly, Occupy LA protesters are not mental health/ addiction specialists unless that happens to be their field in their professional lives. I don't think amateur attempts at helping "scary street people" is particularly useful, may be harmful and could get someone hurt.

Occupy LA protesters' talents lie elsewhere. If they are successful in helping to bring our society into balance professional help will be available to all of our most vulnerable. There's no sense in getting sidetracked by societies ills and the woefully inadequate response to them if it means taking energy and resources away from the main goals which, after all, will benefit the entire population.

Dicey Troop@twitter (#168,743)

I feel like the presentation here of a dichotomy b/w "process" folks and those trying to build a horizontal society is a misreading of the situation. The process folks are the ones trying to build a horizontal society. The problem arises when you have people who refuse to participate in that horizontal governance, and won't recognize the legitimacy of its outcome. Good luck surviving as a movement without process. But, this *is* about healing traditional rifts– process can feel inaccessible to folks who have never been shown or shown themselves how to navigate thru issues of power. Even though we use a horizontal process which all can influence, folks who don't go, or who get bored and leave, don't get to influence it. This has led to issues in New York, but we've resolved them by getting people to the table and trying to make them feel more welcome and comfortable joining the process.

rhetoricpig (#168,821)

@LastResort@twitter I've read through the whole comment thread and your situation is rather sympathetic. You have mine. But a number of people have made the same point to you repeatedly, a point which you have not acknowledged or rebutted, that the LAPD is actively bringing street people and dropping them off at the Occupy camps. I feel that this greatly impacts the gist of your story.

As for the article, the sitch down there sounds messy and not ideal, but compared to the cancerous horrors of the greater context that we find ourselves in, it sounds surprisingly humane.

One note though, if they are only running their amplification between 11 and 11 then, while that is prolly maddening to you as a resident, it is actually a sign of restraint. Possibly an attempt at respect. They have the right to have amplified sound between the hours of 8 am and 10 or 11 pm.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@rhetoricpig – Thanks. Nice not to be brow beaten for trying to live in a home for once. I answered Diane's reply above. Give it a read and lmk what you think. There's nothing wrong with a take two.

Homey (#168,776)

@Last Resort@twitter Don't forget to drop "elderly" here and there also. "across the street", "elderly", "brow beaten"…. anything else?

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@Homey – Again – you've typed another sentence / thought that makes no sense.

rhetoricpig (#168,821)

Oh, and the comment about being able to tell Kat's race from her complexion and bone structure is offensive. Just saying.

@rhetoricpig I wouldn't expect anyone to. But the author might have asked rather than just making something up.

Last Resort@twitter (#168,330)

@rhetoricpig – For the record … I think Kat is stunning. Not to sidetrack the thread. Signing off again.

joshgates79 (#170,461)

That was horrible

DrJLD (#172,090)

You are describing anarchy on the part of the one group. The other is focused on making huge changes to a country filled with people who like some things about our country and only want things to be FAIR. If they are fair, then money is better distributed throughout the citizenry. We, the people, are ultimately to blame for all this unfairness in seeking to gain advantages for us. Unfairness starts at home with consumers and voters.

Tammy Bick@facebook (#183,295)

we do not smoke pot in our Occupy in New Haven, had an issue with it, resolved, we have a "peaceful" relationship with the police and city so far so why compromise a bigger issue? Plenty of places to go if you want to, esp with it being decrimed in CT

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