November 2 was a National Day of Action for Occupy Oakland and the Occupy Movement. Occupiers across the nation held marches and actions in solidarity with our brothers and sisters up north and their general strike. A picture circulated around Facebook and Twitter of what looks to be thousands of people out in the streets surrounded around a Chase bank in Oakland. One little picture displayed such a powerful message. I wasn’t present, but later that night LA Occupiers marched to the intersection of 7th and Figueroa and took it over. LAPD was present, but it remained peaceful. They ended the night of action by protesting in front of a Los Angeles Police Department station. From home, I watched the livestream of what was going down in Oakland; they weren’t as fortunate as us. Once again, they were attacked by the police with teargas and flashbangs. Earlier that night, a couple protesters were also hit by a frantic driver in a Mercedes. The demonstration in front of the LAPD station in Los Angeles was in solidarity with the Oakland occupiers who were the very recent victims of police brutality.
Graphic artist Shepard Fairey stopped by earlier in the weekend and shared his thoughts on the occupy movement and current political system. The confrontation with the police in Oakland continued into the early hours of the morning of November 3. One protester was caught yelling to the police on the livestream, “At what point did you decide that you're any different from that man that you just fucking shot?!” The media coverage for Oakland later in the day was less sympathetic, but Rachel Maddow of MSNBC did an insightful and heartfelt report on her home-town of the East-Bay and its history with general strikes. What was astonishing was seeing Egypt also stand in solidarity with Oakland and march in support of them. Unfortunately, another victim of police aggression emerged out of Occupy Oakland when Kayvan Sabehgi was placed in intensive care with a lacerated spleen after being beaten with batons by Oakland police officers. Sabehgi is also an Iraq war veteran.
The next day was the March on the Banksters demonstration, an all day action protesting against the largest banks in the city of Los Angeles. I arrived a little after 3pm and joined the crowd of about 20 people at Pershing Square. From there we marched a few blocks up to Grand Ave. and 5th St., where we arrived to the US Bank Tower (the largest skyscraper in America east of the Mississippi river). We sat down in front of the building and held a community meeting talking about issues at camp and how to move forward as a movement in making our actions more effective. We then moved on to protest at another bank, forcing them to lock their doors. After that we went to the park area of a nearby library branch, ate dinner donated to us by Food Not Bombs, and had further discussion as more occupiers trickled in. It was cold and had rained earlier, but it didn’t stop us from exercising our first amendment rights. At 8pm we started heading back to City Hall.
The next day was Bank Transfer Day, an event encouraging occupiers and citizens to transfer their money from large banks into not-for-profit credit unions. Occupiers held a rally at the California Plaza with a decent turnout. At that time I was working with Occupy LA Media with editing footage and wasn’t able to participate. However, a little later that day a marijuana legalization rally was held in front of the South steps. At 4:20pm the organizers started passing out free marijuana and hosted a smoke-in. OCCUPY LA DID NOT ENDORSE THIS ACTION, this was done independently. Media people were not allowed to participate in the pot ceremony.
The purpose of the rally was to exercise their rights by being civilly disobedient in support of marijuana as alternative medicine and legalizing it altogether. Many occupiers were split on the demonstration. While some agreed with the message, they absolutely disagreed with the actions, stating that it reflected very poorly on the movement. Others think that legalization is an important economic issue and should be included in the Occupy movement. Law enforcement quickly came in and stopped the pot hand-out. Instead, the 420 organizers agreed to serve food
and stop serving pot; no one was arrested.
Obviously, the bigger and more important issue of that day, particularly pertaining to the Occupy Movement, was the Bank Transfer Day actions. Up until that day, the Occupy Movement has managed to successfully transfer at least $4.5 billion dollars from major bank accounts into credit union accounts. I think it’s pretty obvious that we mean business by now.