OccupyLA's 6 month anniversary sidewalk festival was disrupted on Saturday #M17 by the LAPD who barged in demanding that flags be removed from planters on city property while protesters were eating chili trying to keep out of the rain. Later, the police rushed the protesters and began tearing down tents that were being used to keep food and reading zines dry in the rain. The occupiers took down the remainder of the tents of their own accord to avoid police escalation, hoping to continue with their peaceful celebration.
Later, an autonomous individual went behind the fence at City Hall East to go into an unused park and get a drink of water; the police attacked the individual when he returned, causing massive panic with the arrival of reinforcements. The reinforcements began blindly shoving through the crowd, pulling out an individual and fracturing his arm in the process of placing him under arrest. Two others were placed under arrest and in total, three out of the four charges filed were felonies in a situation where police presence was completely unwarranted.
One of the felony charges was for 'lynching', an archaic law put in place to punish vigilantes that broke into jails and took people from police custody to enact their own version of justice. The prisoners receipt for the occupier that went into the park noted he had been arrested for 'trespassing' but the charge was crossed out and written in as felony 'obstruction'- probably for the sole reason that this particular occupier has a record and is on his second strike. Unfortunately, this entire event was instigated by one particular policemen, Officer Montgomery, who from the moment he arrived was intent on antagonizing the protesters.
Occupiers in Los Angeles and protests that appear to be even occupy related are constantly tracked and harassed by the LAPD. This is made possible by national efforts to militarize the police against political dissenters and the LAPD's classification of 'suspicious persons' in Special Order 1. Coupled with the LA City Attorney's platform position against protesters, this amounts to harassment and persecution of an entire class of politically disenfranchised activists.
On Monday #M19, as a response to the police escalation tactics and unlawful arrests made on Saturday, some occupiers marched to the Metropolitan Detention Center on Los Angeles/Temple. Police showed an overwhelming response by shutting down the streets with fifty police officers for a mere twenty or so protesters. They pulled an occupier out, searched him and began citing him before a snatch squad was sent in to arrest two more protesters for 'offensive language' under the code violation of 'disturbing the peace'.
The first man targeted for arrest had been yelling "I thought this was America!" to the police as protesters around him explained in righteous anger how police escalation in peaceful political events serves to preserve the corrupt political process. Unfortunately, yet another occupier was arrested for 'lynching' and is currently being held on $50,000 bail. This is the third lynching charge against OccupyLA protesters, as we see a shift nationally to increase charges against occupiers to further intimidate and frustrate the movement in the hopes that it will die out.
On Tuesday #M20 the Occupy Skid Row encampment, established to expose the contradictions found in Downtown LA's gentrified cityscape, was harassed by 15 police officers and one person was arrested for the same charge of 'disturbing the peace'. The occupy encampment at skid row disavows Mayor Villaraigosa's Safer Cities Initiative and it's effect on the frequently and disproportionately policed communities of Skid Row.
The simple defiance that sparked the occupy movement is becoming frustrating for the police as we turn the corner on six months of constant public protest. It appears that at this point, whether on the sidewalk or in the streets, the police intend to derail any peaceful congregation of occupiers. With frequent efforts to expose corrupt banksters such as fighting foreclosures, or the targeting of lobbying corporations such as Walmart, it's important to highlight the authoritarian type response evoked by willful actions everywhere as more and more laws are being passed or selectively enforced to restrict civil liberties.