Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Los Angeles City Council votes support for Occupy LA

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Contradicting the trend in New York, Boston, Washington, DC and other cities where the growing occupation movement has been met by official hostility and police violence, today, on the twelfth day of the people's encampment at Los Angeles city hall in opposition to the domination of the big banks and in support of Occupy Wall St., the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution to promote responsible banking by the City of Los Angeles and in support of Occupy Los Angeles.

The resolution with the title "First Amendment Rights / Occupy Los Angeles / Responsible Banking Measure" was sponsored by Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl and was seconded by five other councilpersons, virtually assuring it of passage.

The agenda item for this read as follows:
09-0234-S1

CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION (ALARCON - ROSENDAHL - ET AL.) relative to the City's position to support the First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles” and addressing concerns regarding the Responsible Banking measure.

Recommendation for Council action, SUBJECT TO THE CONCURRENCE OF THE MAYOR: ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles" and URGE the City Departments responsible for completing the implementation plan associated with the Responsible Banking measure (Council file No. 09-0234) that was approved by the Council on March 5, 2010, which would address some of the concerns of the "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators by demanding accountability and results from the Banks we invest taxpayer dollars in, to bring the Responsible Banking measure for a final vote to the Council by October 28, 2011

After dozens of public comments by members of Occupy LA including me and other citizens, the endorsement of many City Counclpersons, and the haggling over the date for the final vote on the banking measure, the council passed the resolution by a vote of 11 to 0 with a couple members abstaining.


Occupy Los Angeles has been rather unique in that as compare to the other big city occupations, it was won a high degree of acceptance by the city and hasn't been plagued by the hostility of the LAPD. This has allowed the encampment to develop as a peaceful place where a certain level of permanency and organization has been able to develop.

Occupy Los Angeles now takes up all the lawns of city hall, north, south and west, although we will free up the south lawn for the farmers market on Thursday, and we no longer move from the lawn to the sidewalk at night. The last time we did that we occupied all the sidewalk on four sides of city hall and then some. Now with 300 tents and counting, it's simply impossible.

This permanency has allowed a certain order to merge. On the inside north lawn, the food tent, welcome tent, donations tent and library stand where they have been for a week. On the other side of the stairs you'll find the medic's tent, and the media tents, and the generators buzzing behind are being replace by solar panels. The north stairs is where we used to hold general assemblies. Now those have moved to the larger south stairs with the bigger PA system. This is where Danny Glover spoke and Tom Morello played last week. But the north stairs now has it's own PA and operates as a kind of auxiliary stage with music and free speech all day. There is also a lunchtime speaker series. Today it was NY Times best selling author Marianne Williamson. The north lawn is crowded and somewhat chaotic. It already has the character of an older community. The south lawn is like the suburbs, more ordered and with room for a couple hundred more tents.

In spite of this resolution's passage today, some senior officers of the LAPD are rumored to be uncomfortable with the current arrangement, so while this peace with the city may not be a permanent peace, it is good while it lasts because that plus the mainstream media coverage Occupy LA has received from day one has furthered an incredible growth of the occupation movement in Los Angeles.

When Sarah Brennan from Richard Alarcon's office first contacted me on September 30th, the day before the occupation began, it was to promote his responsible banking measure. They called me because they didn't know anyone else with Occupy LA. I don't know how they knew me but I had been writing about it.

I told them that the responsible banking measure sounded fine but that where we really needed his support was with the LAPD. At that time the police were saying that we couldn't sleep on the grass and we couldn't sleep on the sidewalk. I said Saturday night we are going to have 300 plus people with tents and sleeping bags planning to sleep somewhere and none of us can do anything about that now.

I told them our fight was with Wall St. not city hall or the LAPD and to please don't make it about that. Please find a safe way we can exercise or first amendment rights and camp out at city hall. Then I called my own Councilperson, Bill Rosendahl, talked to Arturo Pina in his office and gave him the same pitch. I also put both offices in touch with Mario Britok and Cheryl and others from Occupy Los Angeles who were already at city council that morning talking to members.

A meeting between the LAPD, the city attorney and city council staff went very late that Friday but the result was a "legal" occupation in which we have been able to march and stay on city property even though initially we had no permit to do so. While there have been several dozen arrests for civil disobedience at our actions, in the 12 days since then we began, there have been no arrests at Occupy LA.

Today the city council resolution put a kind of official seal on what we have already established on the ground.

I have been explaining the advantages of this situation to some of the younger revolutionaries among us who can't wait for action with the police by using the example of the phenomenon of "legal" Marxism that V.I. Lenin spoke of in turn of the century Russia. One of the best things about Occupy LA is that there is a lot of time to talk.


More pictures from Los Angeles City Council:

Mario Britok speaks to City Council


Councilmen Alarcon and Parks confer. Parks ultimately abstained.

Banking Industry representative looks unhappy with the vote.

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