Dear Dirty America


Occupy Los Angeles Swarms City Hall: the March

October 01
22:09 2011
On my way to Pershing Square, downtown, I wondered if Occupy Los Angeles (live stream here) would turn out to be anything more than a little tambourine rattling and drum banging jamboree. After all, whenever I saw a protest in L.A., I felt like I’d seen those people before. Always the same protesters.I pulled into my corporate bank that watches my money for me. After straightening out a few financial issues that had been ongoing for months, I asked the teller to pull $200 from my account.

I’m going to the protest downtown, I said, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street needs more celebrities

The girl hadn’t heard of the movement, and when she shook her head, her giant hoop earrings banged against her cheeks. I told her I needed a lot of cash in case the police cracked down. We’re marching to City Hall, I said, and after watching the brutality in NYC, at Liberty Plaza, I wouldn’t be surprised if the LAPD did the same. But maybe they’ll be taking bribes, so I want to have a lot of cash on hand. When do you get off work? I asked her. You should come to City Hall, camp out. Make a statement.

“This afternoon,” she said, “but I think I’ll go home instead. I’m going to a movie tonight.”

I hopped back into my car and drove down Olympic as fast as I could because I was already half an hour late. The group was meeting at 10am, and I wouldn’t be there until nearly eleven. After I ditched my sleek white auto in a parking lot and paid the attendant five bucks, I ran for the park.

A heard a voice. I saw heads, and signs. A chorus of voices echoed the first voice. Across the street, I bought a coffee inside a cozy cafe. “Is that all?” the man asked as he filled my coffee. Yes! I said. I readjusted my backpack. I can’t protest on a full stomach.

He left room in the cup for cream, so I told him to fill that motherfucker all the way. It’s going to be a long day, I said, and I need that fuel.

“Why are people so riled up?” he asked me, cocking a thumb in the direction of the park. We could hear the shouts and chants and the banging of drums.

It might be the revolution, I said. I wasn’t going to get involved until I watched that NYPD supervisor cocksucker spray mace into the eyes of innocent, penned up people. And then he was caught on film macing people again. He’s a sadistic freak. He could use a real shot of acid himself to expand his mind into what humans call empathy.

“The revolution,” the man said. He scratched his stubbly face. “Are things so bad out there that we need to revolt?”

Pigs guarding the Bull

They aren’t good, I said, and then we watch police officers brutalize those who choose to speak out. And there’s this prevailing policy of bailing out corporate America and then stripping services and wealth from the rest of America to pay for war and Wall Street handouts. That, and Ronald Reagan has been sighted multiple times. That really shook a lot of people. There’s enough mental energy bubbling in the collective consciousness to re-manifest Reagan. That’s how a lot of us knew we were in trouble.

Pluto in Capricorn: the coming Revolution

Pershing Square. A sweaty, wiry black bum without a shirt and ragged green pants picked through a dumpster overflowing with trash. He didn’t seem to notice the hundreds of people packed in the park. Shit, he probably thought, this ain’t going to change nothing for me. I noticed that every homeless person seemed completely unaware of the throngs of people in their area and as they marched down the sidewalk.

I stumbled around, careful not to trip as I penned details into my pocketbook. The crowd was slightly intimidating. So many varieties of people wearing shirts and signs to show their trusted ideologies, yet everybody seemed friendly toward each other. Ron Paul Revolution people. Young, clean cut people. Youthful, anarchist looking folks. Old hippies and young hippies. Biker dudes and tattooed chicks. A few men in suits or dressy slacks and shirts. This was a pleasant sight. Americans, gathered, truly representing the 99 percent.

On the gathering’s fringes people milled and talked and ogled the denser areas of the crowd. I squeezed past to the packed nucleus and found a large, bold woman shouting directions, giving times, and rallying the troops. She was in charge, and she was doing an excellent job. Everybody there was willing to listen. I got the sense people were on the same ideological page: this is our last chance to make a meaningful statement in this country.

Suddenly the great core of densely packed people shifted forward like a freight train overtaking its first inch of track. Multiple drums were beaten and tambourines shaken and hands clapped and particular sections of the great train piped out specific phrases, such as “We are the 99 percent,” and “Wall Street got bailed out, we got thrown out.”

The NYPD mace freak identified

The protest train ran along the sidewalk. I was in the front-middle of the flowing group. I walked next to another guy who carried a bright orange satchel. He also didn’t have a sign and wasn’t interested in shouting anything. We marched together in a quiet solidarity: we both cared a hell of a lot, enough to show up and support Occupy L.A., but we weren’t screamers or sign wavers. We were watchers.

On a hill I could see the front of the train rolling over sidewalk two blocks ahead. Behind, the moving mass stretched as far as I could see. So many people, so many beliefs, but everybody angry as hell. The LAPD stationed a cruiser every couple blocks to block traffic and make room for the protesters to march. They looked friendly, they wore smiles, they chatted among themselves and visibly read the signs bobbing before them.

The busy downtown traffic reacted by holding in their horns, or honking in rhythm to the drum beats. In a rare rush of emotion, my heart swelled with joy to see people pumping their fists through their open car windows and blowing their horns in support. Dear Jesus, I thought, the revolution is sparking. I’d never been so hopeful for America. The drivers could see the signs, and they knew, like everybody knows, America is in a dreary and dirty shape. Our country is biting the dust, and whenever people saw the marching crowd, they reacted positively.

Store owners and diners and shoppers and walking pedestrians asked what the movement was called, and what was being protested. Several people stepped aside to explain the circumstances and what was being articulated by the protest. One woman stood pinned against a bus stop sign watching the people go by, and she exclaimed, “My God, this is one big ass protest.”  Someone with a hoarse voice behind me yelled, “And it’s only going to get bigger!” Cheers erupted.

When the train collided with City Hall, a few police officers waited. The group split into two and swarmed the two sides of the great stone building. We pooled on the steps while one tall gruff LAPD officer demanded we get off the steps. A short girl argued with him saying we had every right to be there, and she asked him why we couldn’t stay. The officer said, “You think I’m going to answer you?” He called for backup and more cops came. They politely pushed us off the steps.

to be continued…

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1 Comment

  1. Dan Rudy
    Dan Rudy October 03, 00:42

    What an exciting time to be out and about. Great narrative, Adam!

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