I took some time on Saturday to see how the Occupy movement was doing in Los Angeles. It was the day when protests from around the world were staged to inspire solidarity in the growing populist action against corporate greed at the expense of the world’s majority. Here are some random thoughts about my day with them.
- You know when someone pushes your “button” and elicits a angry response from you? Well, it seems a whole helluva lot of people share the same button. Why? See the next bullet point.
- Old, young, black, brown, white, Asian, hippies, yuppies, students, professionals, blue collar, white collar, men, women, teenagers. You name it, they’re protesting.
- Organization that reminds me of a small community rallying after a devastating natural disaster. Kitchen tents, healing areas, books, latrines, and lots of sharing.
- Advocating for more aggressive, violent actions is almost non-existent. Instead, I witnessed a mutual understanding between LAPD and organizers that if the occupiers are left alone, then the occupiers will behave and treat the area with respect. With a history of violent uprisings, that’s unusual for LA. Good work by all.
- The “99%” rally cry is clear and effective. It’s everywhere. It’s as if the Wall Street Occupiers understand that they can use branding tactics employed by the very corporations the movement decries against the corporations themselves.
- Social Media is the heartbeat of this beast. There’s no disputing that the generation at the helm are so comfortable, so fluent and so good at using social media that they have, as one sign aptly pointed out, replaced the traditional tools of revolution (machetes and AK47’s) with Twitter and Facebook. Occupy Wall Street has almost 81,000 followers and that doesn’t count the hundreds of other occupy movements in cities around the world.
- Hypocrisy can creep in to almost any movement, and this one is no exception. When I arrived a few hours before the planned march in hopes of getting a feel for their home at LA City Hall, I had a few chuckles when I saw several occupiers engaged in talks about the movement while sipping from Starbucks cups.
- I’m tired of seeing Guy Fawkes masks. How about a mask of Dr. King or Cesar Chavez or Nelson Mandela? Are there more appropriate faces for civil rights movements? No. These three alone have paved the way for this type of movement. Proper respect should be paid.
- I saw more than a few people proudly wearing their union t-shirts. Will this turn into a breath of union revitalization?
- Too much weed being smoked. The Occupy LA organizers should prohibit weed from being openly consumed as part of the movement. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of pot (to each his own, I say), the movement’s influence on change will be diminished greatly if occupiers are perceived as sitting around public spaces smoking weed. It’s unfortunate but inarguable that perception of the movement is important.
I’m looking forward to more time shooting this movement. It’s legit………..