I want to thank Mayor Villaraigosa and the LAPD. Not for what they intended to do, which was to whitewash a story of vigilante law enforcement, extrajudicial punishment, and torture; for political ends, in a sweeping effort to chill free speech and silence the first pangs of American dissent against decades of financial manipulation to transfer wealth from the middle and lower classes, forcing them to fight over the crumbs of this still wealthy nation.
When the coming raid was announced, and a vague time table provided—delivered oh so tactfully, on Thanksgiving day—a fog had lifted. See, I don't like bureaucracy, trudging through the democratic process, and day to day operations. I do, however, love a good emergency. Like any self-respecting (Myers-Briggs) ISTP, I felt a rush of adrenaline, and an urge to participate which had ebbed away over the course of dozens of meetings.
I leapt at joining the new subcommittees formed around news of the imminent crisis. I planned, I studied your tactics, I prepared for the worst, and I developed a broadening respect for my fellow protesters. I was uncertain of the risks I was willing to take for this still burgeoning movement, and with each urgent meeting I drifted toward the core of those defending the center tent which symbolized the commitment this diverse collection of concerned activists had to demonstrate to pierce the curtain of denial upheld by the corporate media conglomerates which had given ample time to cover even the most inconsequential Tea Party rally only months prior (before their wretched candidates' betrayal disillusioned them, they hung up their tricorns, and put their tea bags to proper use).
Our "camping" out on the City Hall lawn and park was no picnic for most of us. Being exposed to the elements, attending hours worth of meetings every day, under the scrutiny of undercover police and the many surveillance cameras, growing filthy and using sometimes horrifying portable restrooms—all while across the street from the police station, and blocks from several jails—was not my idea of a good time. There was a prominent element of partiers which, by their conspicuousness gave the protest a music festival vibe at times, but there was also the strong undercurrent of those which had arrived for a serious purpose; those ready to mobilize en masse at the drop of a hat. Many of us had grown complacent though, and uncertain of the commitment of our peers.
Until the raid was announced.
With a hairpin turn, what was recognized for almost two months as the legitimate exercise of Americans' right to assemble was issued a hypocritical ultimatum: leave or be arrested (for your crime of exercising free speech). It was especially two-faced given the city council's resolution of support. But it was also anticipated—after the announcement, council member, and former supporter, Richard Alarcon was reported to have said to a liaison, "I'm a politician, what'd you expect?" Regardless of the veracity of that rumor, your actions proved our point. Our disenfranchisement via the two party system, and routine corporate bribery—which has transformed law enforcement and the weak-willed careerists in government into henchmen and spineless figureheads—is a key issue which brought us out there in the first place.
We had, in the last weeks, turned our attention to issues of which we know you were aware. The open door policy had invited elements of LA's forgotten and abused. Desperate people arrived, as did their drug habits, and whatever measures were necessary to get a fix. Thefts became common, and drug users were emboldened by the fact that nothing seemed to phase the LAPD. Things that'd get you busted under normal circumstances were curiously tolerated, despite the absolute impossibility of your unawareness. The naïve among us assured police we could handle it ourselves, and in breathtaking absurdity they allowed it. When an unstable character had marched through our General Assembly, growing agitated to the likelihood of violence, we watched you reluctantly drag your feet, as though a magical barrier had risen around City Hall. Then, when told "We can handle this ourselves," you simply backed off.
Health inspectors threatened volunteers offering hot meals to all comers with enormous fines, while the LAPD treated the "camp" like its own sovereign nation, outside their jurisdiction. Many feared for their safety from drug addicts and gang members, or grew frustrated by the disruptive elements and the hard swing of our priorities from fixing the government to repairing our occupation. Some left because of those things. We lost some good people.
The heavy footfalls of your jackboots, your knuckle-cracking eagerness, and the rumble of busses had jolted us awake. The partiers were the first to go. The druggies left soon after. Then those simply not committed enough to risk beatings, torture, and arrest pulled up stakes. You did what we had neither the authority nor the means to accomplish. Like Natural Selection, only those adapted to this movement remained.
Thank you for that.
After days of tension and continual PSYOPS, sleepless nights, and finally hours of watching our friends being hauled off in military grade plastic restraints, the LAPD had affirmed their reputation. Reports of kettling blocks away, beatings, and shootings with "non-lethal" weapons provided the behind-the-scenes extras to the city's big production beneath the south steps of City Hall. You congratulated yourselves while detaining people for trespassing, using laws reserved for failure to disperse from a riot to apply punishments that couldn't be invoked legitimately. You deliberately left protesters in busses for upwards of nine hours, forcing them to soil themselves while you dawdled on a coffee break. You let those you injured lay bleeding in holding cells for half a day, and the elderly wither in their tight restraints, to the point of numbness in their arms, and pain extreme enough to cause one elderly woman to pass out. What did the driver from the Sheriff's Department say to that? Oh yeah,
"She should've stayed her old ass at home!"
I've received nothing but gratitude, praise and support for civil disobedience. Family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers, have thanked me. Even a conservative who disagrees with the movement's platform expressed respect for my resolve. People have been shocked and appalled to hear firsthand accounts of LAPD and Sheriff's Department abuses, and political duplicity. You've driven more people from the fence and into our proverbial camp.
There are 291 more of us likely experiencing the same.
Now without a home for our movement, we've brought our obstinate purpose and dedication to the literal doorsteps of our corrupt banks. We're occupying foreclosed homes, and leaked bank memos show that they're none too happy about this. We're more galvanized, more mobile, more bonded, and more focused.
So, thank you.