OCCUPY L.A. :The Story: 24 Hours until eviction? (PART THREE)By: Brett Redmayne-Titley
“They’ll Have to Carry Me Out”.
“They’ll have to carry me out”, says J.R., another proud war veteran, who has been here since day one. Like so many of the nice people I have interviewed today, J.R. echoes a familiar theme. No one I have met or talked to wants violence or will perpetrate violence. And no one will voluntarily leave. They want to be carried out. Arrested or not, in the last four hours very few have broken camp.
Far from it. Every night the OCCUPY L.A. members hold a general assembly at 7:30 p.m.. Tonight it is packed. The crowd is well over 2,500.As I walk towards the camp in preparation for the General Assembly I talk with more protestors who are just now arriving.
Here is a representative sample of the waking 99%. Everywhere there are veterans (lots of veterans), families, students, teachers, pensioners, out of work stock brokers, white collar workers, blue collar workers, women in Sunday dress, men in suit and ties, the unemployed, immigrants from many countries, lawyers, paralegals, city and county workers, firemen, and more. All have a sincere story to tell regarding why they are here. Some break my heart. They’re common denominator is: They want their democracy back and demand change. They are pissed.
Previously, at 4:00 p.m., the local mega band NOFX shows up unannounced and whipped the crowd of 1,500 into a frenzy. With their powerful, social political songs they build their 45 minute set to a fever pitch. The tone for tonight has been set.
Meantime, the crowd has continues to grow in preparation for the General Assembly. Police presence has virtually disappeared during this time except for the periodic police chopper shining their spotlight on the crowd from above. To their credit, so far, police have been terse but polite. This seems ominous.
I stopped by to speak with Lawrence Ziese of Peace In Action, a lawyer, who is organizing a Legal Observer team for tonight’s eviction. My enthusiasm runneth over and I am quickly an Observer for tonight. Our mission; go out in pairs and document, in writing and on film, potential police indiscretions. The meeting is very professional and everyone listens carefully especially to the instruction to “remain neutral”. About forty Legal Observers fan out in preparation with the comfort in knowing that, if arrested, our legal team will bail us out. This could be a blessing.
As the General Assembly starts the crowd gets a surprise. Ron Kovaks, celebrated war veteran, and respected peace activist, wheels himself up to the microphone. Ron lost three limbs serving for this country. He then delivers a rousing ten minute call to action. His passion and patriotism is thrilling for all to hear. The crowd goes wild.
Then peace activist, Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith takes over with his own rousing speech which finishes with a song from his wife to the movement and to the protestors. As I stand amongst the growing crowd images of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and my other political heroes fill my head. This is, indeed, revolution.
The cops have picked a bad night for an eviction. Twenty-five hundred protestors, every major and local news service including the BBC, activists from across the globe, and a dedicated squad of Legal Observers. If and when the cops get started they will not go unnoticed.
There are just three hours to go. The night is getting very interesting.