Update: Buzzkill. Mayor Villaraigosa doesn't technically have the power to let protesters camp out where Municipal Code says they can't. Details at the bottom.
L.A. City Councilmembers Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl introduced a resolution to support the Occupy L.A. movement today -- a gesture that would essentially attach the City of Los Angeles to protesters' many grievances. The council will take an official vote on the resolution next Tuesday, but judging by their dramatic, heart-wrenched personal responses to occupiers during the meeting's public comment period, no black-sheep councilmember is going to make the dick move of voting 'No' on such a popular cause.
This super feel-good exchange between Occupy L.A. and city government is a perfect depiction of how the West Coast movement differs from its East Coast muse:
New York Mayor Bloomberg is viewing the unrest as a problem, whereas the L.A. City Council is using it as a way to connect with their constituents. And while the NYPD brawls with protesters on Wall Street, the LAPD has been called out by Occupy L.A. for its exceptionally good behavior.
"Stay as long as you need, we're here to support you," City Council President Eric Garcetti told the campers on L.A. City Hall's front lawn yesterday.The council's resolution is much of the same. (Many Tweeters have confused its introduction with its final passage, but in the end, they're probably right.)
"There was an Arab spring," Rosendahl preached at the meeting. "[And now] you're seeing an American autumn."
A member of Occupy L.A. identifying himself as "head of security" stood at the public-comment podium and told his elected officials, "My current address is here, at 200 Spring Street. I no longer have a home. ... And by god, I'm gonna stay here as long as it takes."
Many of the speaker's dripping-wet peers, taking momentary shelter in council chambers, echoed the sentiment.
Councilman Dennis Zine piled onto the lovefest, saying he was "very impressed with [protesters'] legitimacy with concern to their issues" and the way they "presented themselves" before the council. (You know, as opposed the usual batch of "disorderly" madmen that councilmembers normally have to tolerate. Cough cough, Zuma Dogg.)
"And you're out there in the rain, which is miserable," added Rosendahl.
Which gets us to wondering: Maybe the plebeians should try occupying someplace they're a little less welcome? The real occupation today is happening at a big bank CEO's house out in Bel Air.
But here's the resolution, for those who wish to feel a swell of pride for their stand-up city politicians. Courtesy of City Maven.
More to come as the protest wears on. Especially looking forward to the mayor's highly anticipated appearance at the encampment today. Because if anyone's good for a hypocritical, bleeding-heart solidarity speech, it's L.A. Mayor Antonio "Six Foot Wall" Villaraigosa.
Like the powerful California unions backing Occupy L.A., the City Council has a lot to gain from attaching its name to this grassroots campaign.
Update: An LA Weekly commenter points out, and City News Service confirms, that "police have been enforcing a city ordinance that prevents people from sleeping in city parks, including the lawn of City Hall, at night to move their tents from the lawn to the sidewalk around 10 p.m. and back to the lawn about 6 a.m."
So damn silly. City Councilman Alarcon had requested that Villaraigosa "issue
an executive order preventing Occupy L.A. demonstrators from having to move
their tents," but the mayor's spokesman tells City News he doesn't actually have that authority.
Uh-oh. Looks like the true bureaucratic inefficiencies of our local government -- in the same vein as those currently being protested across the country -- might get in the way of this kumbaya sesh that's been raging between protesters and politicians downtown.
"The mayor does support Occupy L.A. and the right to peaceful assembly,'' the spokesman added, pointing out that Villaraigosa supplied occupiers with 100 ponchos this morning, to protect them from the sudden downpour. Heh.