The occupy Wall Street
/Los Angeles movement is like a giant ship of angry passengers without a captain or rudder, but with a course that still appears clear: stop the excesses of Wall Street greed and provide more support to the 99 percent of citizens suffering from high unemployment, lack of health care, and shortage of services, at a time when the wealthiest one percent continues to grow richer and stronger.
Saturday October 15 marked the 15th day of Occupy Los Angeles, the movement that started in support of the Occupy Wall Street protest which is now in its second month. Based on my observations from a week earlier, the movement in Los Angeles has doubled in size with supporters camped out on three sides of the iconic city hall building. A week ago, there were still large patches of unoccupied grass sections covering the north, west and south potions of the grounds. Yesterday, I would have put up a no-vacancy sign.
The highlight of the day was a march from Pershing Square
, which sits in the heart of the old financial district, to City Hall, about a one-mile walk, under the warm California sun. My unofficial head count put the crowd at around 10,000. Of course, this wouldn’t hold up in audit, because I based it on assumptive math, observing a column twenty people wide that stretched a quarter mile. Go ahead, have a field day with the calculation, even beat me up over it; but it was massive and loud.
There were no reports of violence and the police force, while large, was all smiles and exemplified calm restraint. The mood was a bit more tense in front of a Bank of America branch along the walk where a large group was engaged in a sit-in about twenty yards in front of the main entrance. Two cops on motorcycles sat between the group and the doors.
I interviewed 20 individuals representing several ethic and age groups and not one person carried the same message. There was a consistent feeling of anger and frustration, but no clear consensus on what should be done.
When I left later in the day, I had developed some conclusions about the whole affair.
1. People are angry and becoming increasingly desperate.
2. Some people are there as professional protestors with a good excuse to party.
3. People don’t know what the answers are.
4. Many people were there to support a general feeling of inequity.
5. A lot of folks were just curious.
6. The encampment itself is well organized and set up for a long siege.
7. The demographics present included a broad mix of age groups and ethnic diversity.
8. If you’re gonna lay siege to a city hall. Los Angeles would be my city of choice.
That being said, I’m beginning to feel a growing anxiety over the protest and the underlying uncertainty of its course. The lack of consistent and realistically achievable goals might result in a new millennium "Kent State
" of sorts. By this, I mean everyone who is participating resents Wall Street and the government to some extent, but there hasn’t been one definable, realistically achievable goal put forth by anyone that could satiate the movement. With a lack of achievement, the movement will grow more impatient and lead to larger, more vociferous confrontations, which could in turn lead to harsher police crackdowns and violence.
Then again, does a revolution happen any other way?