November 25, 2011
To Occupy Los Angeles:
This summer our national political conversation was consumed by debt ceilings and deficit reduction. Our national leaders were single-mindedly focused on cutting spending and cutting services. Issues of social justice and economic equality sat neglected and ignored on the political sidelines.
You have changed that. In seven short weeks, you have awakened the country’s conscience. You have given voice to those who have not been heard: to the middle class families who face piles of past due notices and wonder how they will get by; to the students who have done the work, made the grades and have graduated into a job market woefully short on prospects and possibility; to the homeowners who, through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times and have lost their homes and lifesavings; and to all of the people who face the bitter prospect of an American Dream that grows more and more elusive every day.
The Occupy movement is now at a crossroads. The movement faces the question of how it can build on its initial success. It is a question of whether energy will be consumed to defend a particular patch of earth or whether that energy will be channeled to spreading the message of economic equality and signing more people up for the push to restore the balance to American society.
The encampment in City Hall Park is not sustainable. This is especially true from the standpoint of public health and public safety. Accordingly, we must close, repair and re-open the park to public access. For this reason, we will close the park on Monday, November 28th at 12:01 am. The park closure will include a set of measures that will assist Occupy LA participants to move their personal belongings and property from the park. We will also offer social and health services for those in need.
I am very proud of the fact that since the start of the occupation of City Hall Park, we have done things differently in Los Angeles. We have not stared each other down from opposite sides of barricades and barbed wire. We have communicated. We have listened. We have negotiated. It has allowed us to solve problems peacefully and to avoid the scenes of violence and brutality that have strained the civic fabric of other cities.
It is my hope that we can conclude this first chapter of Occupy LA in a similar spirit. I admire your courage and character. You have opened the eyes of your fellow citizens to the economic hardship in their midst. I am encouraged by your passionate commitment to social justice and look forward to the continued progress of your efforts.
Very Truly Yours,
Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor