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The State of the Occupation 

From City Hall to suburban Van Nuys: Occupy L.A. looks much different one year later

Thursday, Sep 27 2012
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Page 5 of 5

Soon after, Hernandez heard about protesters being arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. He ended up paying a visit to the Occupy L.A. encampment.

"It felt right," he says. "There were middle-class people talking to the homeless, and homeless talking to the middle class. It was beautiful. They were trying to build a new form of society. I really did feel that. I still feel like another world is possible."

After the raid, some Occupy protesters started breaking up foreclosure sales at the Norwalk courthouse. They occupied homes, drawing media attention and, in some cases, winning a reprieve for the homeowners. Word spread, and distressed homeowners began coming to the meetings for help.

click to flip through (4) PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES - Occupy L.A. gathered in Pershing Square in August for "Chalkupy."
  • PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES
  • Occupy L.A. gathered in Pershing Square in August for "Chalkupy."
     
 

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Similar home occupations took place around the country. In May, Occupy protesters were driven out of a foreclosed home in Minneapolis, only to return repeatedly. That action was cited in an Adbusters "tactical briefing," which praised what it saw as "a new model" for Occupy: "Small groups of fired-up, second-generation occupiers acting independently, swiftly and tenaciously pulling off myriad, visceral local actions, disrupting capitalist business-as-usual across the globe."

When Hernandez got his own eviction notice, Occupy San Fernando Valley relocated to his home. Media attention drew Bank of America to try to work something out with the family, although bank officials say the Hernandez family has not supplied the necessary paperwork. A month into the occupation, eviction still looms.

The cops have been by several times in response to neighborhood complaints. Three weeks into the occupation, someone phoned a tip to the Department of Children and Family Services, alerting them that children were in the home without water and electricity. A social worker showed up at midnight. (The complaint was false, and the social worker left.)

Last week, Hernandez was protesting at the local Bank of America branch when he heard that several police cars had shown up at the house. They told him to move the couches out of the street. He refused and was given a citation and told to appear in court. The family held a "foreclosure fair," serving food, playing music and face painting in front of Fort Hernandez.

It's not an office at City Hall, but it's where they want to be.

"This is not about victory," Hernandez says. "It's about showing resistance."

by Gene Maddaus

Reach the writer at gmaddaus@laweekly.com

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