As the bedraggled Occupy L.A. encampment slowly drains (on its own accord, but under well-planned pressure from the LAPD and City Hall), and attempts to Occupy UCLA have been uprooted by the increasingly despised UC Police Department (did you see that militant line of riot police outside the regents meeting? Apocalyptic, almost), one camp remains remarkably intact.
Student protesters at East Los Angeles City College, calling themselves Occupy ELAC, have been camping on the campus' front plaza for a month now. And instead of terrorizing them with city-park curfews — or, uh, pepper spray — administrators have issued them a permit that will last until January 1, 2012.
“They have permission from the school to be here,” says L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy F. Velasco, who works at the campus station. After that, he says he's “not sure what the school's plans are,” but says there's a possibility their permit could be renewed.
(We've contacted Sonia Lopez in the Student Activities building for the school's plans and rationale going forward. Deputy Velasco says she's in charge of issuing permits.)
Like at UCLA and other public universities across California, ELAC students are outraged that their tuition keeps rising as the 1 percent gets fatter.
But unlike the tense occupations at those other campuses, Occupy ELAC has met virtually zero resistance from law enforcement or school staff. This makes for somewhat of an anticlimactic campout, true, but if the goal of the movement is to occupy longest, which it certainly seems to be, might as well take advantage of these rare specks of tolerance and wear out one's welcome where one can.
Administrators surely know what they're doing: Much like Los Angeles city politicians at the beginnings of Occupy L.A., they're aware that setting this kind of peaceful precedent is a great way to win over one's constituents, and earn a (perhaps national) reputation as a good king among tyrants.
“I just go on what they tell me,” says Sheriff's Deputy Velasco.
Reminds us a little of the LAPD's hands-off approach. In mid-October, LAPD media relations officer Bruce Borihahn told the LA Weekly that the department had been instructed not to kick out the protesters, and that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was “waiting for further instruction” from Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council.
Anyway — we're loving Occupy ELAC right now. Their camp looks anything but patchouli oil-infested, and check the Feng Shui (it's the one on the bottom; heh):
Oh, and did we mention they have a gorgeous Tumblr? We've seen the future of Occupy Wall Street — and it's camped out on Cesar Chavez Avenue in East Los Angeles.
Protesters stayed strong through the mid-November rains, as reported by the Alhambra Source:
[Engineering student Keanu Paar] said that even though they were getting “a little tired,” the situation is manageable. He compared it to the state's budget crisis. “You know what, it's not over yet, … [the rain storm and leaking tents] looked bad, but it's fixable. Like these budget cuts, it's a big problem, but it's fixable,” he said.
So far their occupation is sanctioned by the ELAC administration who say they will allow it until January, and is supported by faculty members. Campus security guards check on their safety, and secretaries in the main offices donate food. They also received donations from the community, including from Home Depot and Lilliana's Tamales.
Even if the kumbaya doesn't last past January 1, these pampered ELAC campers will get kicked out just in time for Occupy the Rose Parade. From there, the future of OWS in SoCal is anybody's land grab.