Occupy L.A. Locked Out of 'Solidarity Park' With Giant Fence; Where to Go From Here?
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sure knows how to erect a fence! He's trumped the six-foot wall around his own mayoral mansion with a chain-link/K-rail version, which looks to be about 9 or 10 feet tall, around the City Hall lawn. Or Solidarity Park, as Occupy L.A. christened it before they were either arrested or forced out onto the desolate downtown terrain.
Last night was "the finest moment in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department," announced L.A. Mayor Antonio VIllaraigosa at a press conference just now.
Though they arguably knew what was coming, the nearly 300 arrestees now facing $5,000 bail, the photographer tackled by a riot squad and the couple hundred "homeless" protesters searching for their next campsite might beg to differ.
A group of about 100 was reportedly heckling police and clean-up crews from a sidewalk across from City Hall this morning. Another few dozen got a little rest at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church around the corner. (Now there's an idea -- Occupy Churches! One thing religious zealots and OWS heads can agree on: Democracy is dead.)
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The damage done to City Hall's front- and backyard is grave. There are reports of camping debris laced with feces, mounds of trash and other unmentionables.
And the lawn, of course, is no longer a lawn but a patch of dust. Also kind of a landfill. The mayor made a big fuss at this morning's press conference about how cleanup is going to cost in the $100,000s.
But as we've pointed out before, that's nothing compared to the wads City Hall spends of developer giveaways and PR projects, even throughout this recession. A couple hundred thousand is a small price to pay for the impact Occupy L.A. has had on all our apathy levels and understanding of the steep inequality that has evolved to define America. (L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander has even requested that Occupy L.A.'s total cost to the taxpayers be calculated, including legal fees. To that, L.A. Tweeter Kate Wellington asks, "Dear L.A. City Councilman: Why not ask how much Wall Street greed has cost the city and its residents?" Touche.)
The Associated Press headline says it all: "Occupy LA's legacy: Stench, trash, property damage."
Anyway, moving on, before we start sounding like the Tree Man. Where to go from here?
Occupy organizers tell us that the first step is reaching out to those protesters currently dealing with jail, bail, etc. They're at City Council public comment right now, begging for elected officials to help reduce their friends' bail amount.
From there, no official decision has been made as to where they'll regroup for the next sleepover. Only thing we know for sure: The largest Occupy Wall Street faction in the country -- with dudes as stubborn as aforementioned photographer/Tree Man -- is clearly not going to call it a day and disperse.
"Solidarity Park was closed at the direction of the 1%... but OLA lives on!" the @OccupyLA Twitter account announced as the sun came up.
[Update: Organizer "Rudy" tells Neon Tommy, "Today is going to be a day of rest. It'll be more toward the night I think that people start figuring out what's next. It's going to be a matter of waiting until people are released from jail, because they're the most committed."]
Wherever they end up, they'll face the same criticisms that the mayor has claimed led to their eviction: unsanitary conditions, kids living in the street, spikes in crime, etc. (Even though kids live on Skid Row just a few blocks away. Not to mention nearby crime rates.)
Perhaps protesters are wishing they'd taken up the mayor on his insanely cush offer of farmland and office space to leave City Hall lawn? But that's way off the table by now, if it ever existed at all.
Only stunt left to pull is hopping that damn fence. Updates to come.
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