Occupy L.A. One Year Anniversary Rally - 10/01/2012
October 1st marked the one year anniversary of Occupy L.A.’s occupation of City Hall Park - an Occupation that lasted barely two months. To celebrate the anniversary, OLA scheduled a massive rally at Pershing Square, to be followed by a protest march through the streets of Downtown L.A.
The rally was to begin at noon. When I arrived at 12:30, the square appeared to be mostly empty but my nose soon caught a whiff of marijuana smoke.
Following the scent of burning cannabis to the far south end of the square, I found a small gathering of perhaps 45-40 "occupiers".
An L.A. Police officer spoke with a handful of reporters…
…while the occupiers prepared for their anniversary party demonstration.
There were the usual Guy Fawkes masks that have come to be associated with the Occupy movement.
This rather serious young man held a sign explaining exactly why he was revolting.
He later taped a dollar bill over his mouth, symbolizing something, but I’m not exactly sure what.
Soon a few folks arrived with the obligatory Occupy "free" food. People mostly ignored the first course of fruit and chips.
But they lined up for the famous Occupy veggie pasta. Along with the free food, there was also plenty of free radical literature.
And, of course, there were free pre-made signs provided by Leftist groups such as International Answer, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
But the signs that caught my attention at this rally were the ones carried by the man in the picture below.
They were also pre-made, but they weren’t professionally printed, instead they were all individually hand written.
Each one had a unique message or slogan.
When the Occupy movement first started a year ago, one of the things that captured the attention of photographers and reporters was the profusion of hand-made signs, each featuring a message unique to the person carrying it. What we see now in these pictures are what I call "pre-made-home-made" signs, meaning: pre-made signs made to look like home-made signs.
They were leaned up against a wall for people to grab and carry. Later as the crowd grew and moved to the shade at the south west corner of the square, the remaining signs were also moved. Some were leaned up against trees, others set out on the ground.
Not much was happening, so I decided to take a short walk through the beautiful Biltmore Hotel across the street from Pershing Square.
Having just left a crowd of Occupiers I was happy that I looked normal enough that the doorman didn’t give me a second glance as I walked in the entrance and through the lovely Tea Room.
I headed to the Gallery Bar for a quick beer, but they were filming a TV program in there so instead I killed a little time taking in the classic 1920’s California architecture before slipping out onto 6th St and walking back to the rally.
The first thing I noticed was that the pre-made-home-made signs were now being carried around by Occupiers as if they had made them themselves.
Thanks to Mr. Signman, everyone now had a nice folksy looking handmade sign to carry in the big march.
Occupy L.A. makes a big deal out of the fact that they feed homeless people around Downtown, but on this day there was one homeless man who had had enough of OLA. He was sick and tired of the noise and mess and police in Pershing Square where he claims he’s been spending his days for the past three years. You can see him in the following video giving the occupiers a piece of his mind.
Eventually the occupiers used their special secret weapon on him, and tried to chant him down. As soon as they pause, he calls them "assholes", and walks away.
Most everyone was now gathered on the corner of 6th and Olive, including these two young fellows waving an inverted American flag.
They couldn’t have been older than 17 or 18. Soon they set their flag out on the sidewalk and invited people to walk on it.
Most everyone was happy to comply. They also defaced the flag with a black marking pen. Presumably attempting to write "One life, One love", they accidently wrote "One lile, One love"…and never noticed their mistake.
One of the two, a baby-faced kid who looked to be about 16, wore a GG Alin t-shirt.
If you don’t know who GG Alin is, consider yourself lucky. The back of his shirt said "I’m Your Enemy".
A little further down the sidewalk some occupiers unfurled a large banner featuring a hideous, and obscene, painting of a Republican elephant fornicating (as only an elephant can) with a female Democrat donkey.
They held the banner for passing motorists, and pedestrians. I saw a number of parents who happened to be walking past, pull their small children away, and cross the street to avoid passing the pornographic painting.
Not all of the signs were pre-made-home-made, many were authentically home-made. I found this sign interesting.
"12*21*2012 #Leakitall Project Mayhem 2012 Expect Tyler"…The sign appears to be a reference to this YouTube posting by the so-called "hactivist" group know as Anonymous.
Sometimes it was hard to tell the real home-made signs from the pre-made-home-made signs.
"Work Has Triumphed Over All Ways Of Existing"…As if there are other "ways of existing" that don’t require work.
I thought this shirt was kind of funny…"It burns like hygiene"
Then they brought out the chalk.
So-called "chalking" has become a big issue for OLA.
This past summer a number of occupiers were arrested, and a near riot broke out after occupiers refused to disperse during a "chalking party". At least one occupier was shot with a police projectile.
Since then, "the right to chalk" has become another item on Occupy L.A.’s laundry list of important issues facing the country.
As you can see it doesn’t take long for the occupiers to completely deface a street corner with their, often profanity-laced, messages. And it is the local small business owners who have to go out and clean up the mess after the occupiers have gone.
Many of the occupiers held signs aimed at provoking the police.
But the police did a good job of ignoring them.
By this time the crowd had grown to perhaps 75, maybe 85, people…And they were getting restless.
This bearded Che Gruevara wannabe read revolutionary poetry, while shaking his fist in the air.
And the fellow here with the marijuana leaf cape is running for L.A. City Council. His slogan is "Free The Weed!"
Iraq War vet turned Marxist agitator, Mike Prysner, showed up with a few other red-shirted Communists.
In the picture below you, can see Prysner having a discussion with a sad-faced young man holding a sign which reads "America is the greatest most opportune country in the world…You just have to work for it". I’ve seen this guy at previous OLA events, and I’m not sure if he’s for real, or if he’s play-acting.
He shows up unshaven, wearing a blazer, and looking worried. He claims to be a patriotic American who is down on his luck, and can’t find a job. He wants to be part of the Occupy movement, but is concerned about the socialists and the Communists and the revolutionaries. People like Prysner come over and have a very public conversations with him. Slowly they convince him that socialist revolution is the only way to save the America that he loves. I saw this seen play out a couple of times before at the old OLA encampment at City Hall - same guy, same sad face, same blue blazer. And note that his sign is made exactly the same way as the pre-made-home-made signs (see the fake home-made sign behind him). Is he for real, or is this stealth street theater propaganda?...I honestly don’t know the answer.
Soon a generously built young woman took the microphone and fired up the crowd for the big march…
You can hear her pep rally speech in the following video (and please note just how small the crowd is when I pan around at the 1 minute mark).
And then the march began.
To be generous, I’d say there were 85-100 people. Have a look for yourself…
Soon they were off the sidewalk, and out in the street walking between cars and through intersections. Causing traffic jams is an OLA specialty.
First stop was outside of the Central City Association. The CCA is an organization that advocates for business in Los Angeles. The guy in the following picture gave a passionate speech outside the front door of the CCA in support of more public restrooms downtown.
Next stop, a small Bank of America branch…
While the occupiers yelled angry speeches outside the doors of the bank, business as usual went on at the ATM machines.
This poor old man didn’t seem happy having to walk out into the street to get past the mob outside the bank.
Occupy paused for a quick photo along the way to the next protest target.
The next stop was the L.A. Community College offices, where the occupiers made speeches demanding free education, and the forgiveness of all student loan debt.
This you lady held a sign the read "Smash Capitalism, Rewild the Earth"
The march made one last stop outside the beautiful and historic, California Club, where the occupiers yelled and shook their fists at the evil one percenters they imagined were inside plotting new ways to oppress the poor.
Eventually, the dwindling band of revolutionaries made their way to the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, where they faced off with a handful of LAPD bicycle officers. They then spent the next hour chanting, "Fuck the police", among other things.
While others sat around in the Library gardens smoking their "medicine".
If you are wondering why the police never arrest anyone for flagrantly smoking marijuana at these Occupy demonstrations, the reason is that virtually everyone has a medical marijuana prescription.
The occupiers were still yelling at the police when I left the Anniversary Party and headed back to reality.
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