... the other Black experience

Inside Occupy LA: Week 4 - Obama, Living Together, Tom Morello and... Bad Apples

Around 4am early Sunday morning, myself and a couple other occupiers talked amongst ourselves about how we can improve the condition of our site and make it more welcoming. We were fed up with being kept up all night and people putting their own superficial selfish wants over the dire universal needs of the other activists. We organized a community meeting for 3pm on Monday. I went home later that morning and returned to the site after I was done with my classes for the day. President Obama paid a visit to the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. Online, several Occupy LA participants stated that the President should pay a visit to the Occupy LA site at City Hall; my sentiments were the same.

Report by Griff Fuller Jr.

I arrived to the South lawn area where our meeting was to be held. Myself and L (as I’ll refer to her as) were the primary organizers for this specific meeting. I ran into her and she told me to go around and do mic checks, gather up enough people to bring to the meeting. We sat in a circle on the ground in the central space in between the steps and the fountain. There were about ten people present at the beginning of the meeting, but it gradually grew to over thirty by the end. We went from person to person counter clockwise, having them introduce themselves and discuss what improvements they would like to see be made. The introductions went much longer than anticipated as people started to give lengthy individual speeches.
L was the scribe and main moderator; I acted as a secondary moderator. Out of all of the testimonies I heard at our meeting, the most memorable one was from a pretty young schoolteacher who said that she gets up early everyday to go teach and leave from her South lawn camping area. And she nicely asked the drummers one night if they could keep it down because she had work in the morning. They replied to her, "Move your fucking tent then." I was disgusted and appalled. L proposed starting a sub clean-up and outreach committee and reinforcing our peace officers to restore order overnight. The meeting was at least a public starting point to get people seriously talking about the domestic issues that we had.

The next day Occupy Oakland was attacked by the Oakland Police Department. As the live tweets poured in, widespread support for the occupiers grew across the nation. I returned to City Hall around noon to catch Tom Morello (from Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, etc.) make a special appearance . He arrived to the South steps shortly after 1pm and made a brief announcement that he was giving out free tickets to his show in West Hollywood that night at the Troubadour as a token of appreciation for all of the Los Angeles occupiers. This was Tom’s second time visiting, and this time I was fortunate enough to meet him, talk to him, shake his hand, and get a picture with him. My buddy and I got tickets to his show for that night; we arrived to the Troubadour around 8:30pm. Tom gave an amazing performance. For a second there I had to pinch myself and remind myself that I was watching one of the most gifted guitarists in rock history right in front of me.

A few bad apples from Occupy LA got arrested outside the venue before the show began. TMZ unfortunately captured a bit of the confrontation, with Tom Morello intervening in between the argument with the two drunken occupiers and his security. After the show I was dropped off at City Hall and went to my tent to sleep. The drummers and partiers were up and I had class the next morning. I managed to get the drummers to hush up after putting up with them for about an hour or so, but the circle of partiers by my tent was boisterous and merciless. They didn’t care about anyone around them. They kept on partying and laughing and blasting music from their radios. I yelled at them, told them to shut up, they kept on. Later, Wednesday morning, I started writing an Open Letter to the Occupy LA movement about the ridiculousness of our in-house infestation.
A local article was published claiming that several city officials wanted us to move on and leave City Hall. Later that night, a small crowd gathered and marched around City Hall chanting for people to come out of their tents and march in solidarity of Occupy Oakland and its injured victim, Scott Olsen. With each cycle around City Hall, the crowd grew. When there were over seventy of us we decided to march into Downtown LA for visibility. From there, a local organizer volunteered to lead us into Skid Row. We proudly marched into a part of Los Angeles that most people try to avoid, especially at night. The Skid Row occupants were happy to see people there standing up for their rights as human beings and citizens of this country. From Skid Row we marched to Pershing Square, and from Perishing Square we marched to the upscale LA Live where we confronted a bunch of one-percenters and made our presence known. From there, we marched back to City Hall. My friend and I were glad that finally we were seeing some action again, and that maybe the tide would change for Occupy LA.
I found out shortly afterwards that the Mayor of LA also wanted us to move along. We don’t plan on going anywhere. Some people down there don’t have any place to go to anyhow. I lost my temper the next day after discovering that the partiers near my tent attempted to break into it. At that point I didn’t need anymore evidence that these people NEED TO GO; bad apples always want to turn the barrel sour. A friend and I recruited a few other occupiers to help with moving my tent to the North lawn where it is much quieter and more peaceful. There was practically no action for that Saturday, and that’s when me and my friend (who is an early organizer for Occupy LA) knew that we were in trouble down here in Los Angeles. Occupy LA had essentially been segregated into North Lawn/South Lawn (North Lawn for serious participators, South Lawn for partiers and drum circles). I realize that some people might not be comfortable with me airing our dirty laundry and want to give the impression that everything is going smoothly over here in Los Angles, but I’m not going to lie or fabricate about what is actually happening; this is what is happening. The same concerns that I have are shared by many others camping at the site. Disappointed, I left City Hall for the weekend; copped Bjork’s Biophilia on vinyl with a birthday gift-card and went home.

- Griff Fuller Jr.'s blog:
Click here for Griff's report on Week 1 of Occupy LA, here for Week 2 and here for Week 3.

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Comment by Daniel Rose on November 7, 2011 at 7:52am
very powerful event
Comment by Milo Mojo on November 6, 2011 at 10:31am
Bring it Tom!
Comment by Hitch on November 5, 2011 at 12:33am
I like hearing what's going down
Comment by Chris Swann on November 4, 2011 at 6:54pm

Thanks for documenting the event!


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