In The Aftermath Of Eviction, Occupy LA Looks To Relocate
Beeping, crashing and scraping from heavy machinery made for more of a commotion than the demonstrators of Occupy L.A. had in the last two months of their encampment.
The debris strewn across the lawn was almost overwhelming, as if demonstrators had chosen trash and discarded camping supplies as their last-ditch effort to leave a mark on the city. As cleanup crews carried out their arduous task, police officers stood bored around city hall, guarding against its former occupants.
Blocks away, what remained of the movement struggled to regroup. They had relocated to Our Lady Queen of Angeles Church, La Placita.
Few tents survived the abrupt transition—one Occupier grumbled, "The bastards didn't get this one," as he fumbled to set up his worn sleeping quarters. Others had taken to sleeping bags lining the perimeter of the church.
But as dawn began to break, several Occupiers were wide awake in the plaza outside the church, too incensed by the night's events to sleep. They crowded around organizer Rudy, who declined to give his last name. Protesters asked about their tents, the belongings they'd been forced to leave behind when police raided the lawn.
They wanted to know what had become of the treehouse demonstrators, the last three to occupy city hall. According to Rudy, police had used beanbag guns at close range to force them down. One of them, Manny, was seriously injured.
Rudy watched the final showdown from nearby on the lawn. After debriefing the displaced Occupiers at Our Lady Queen, he was on his way home to finally get some sleep. It had been a long night, and it was too soon to say what the movement's next step would be.
"Today is going to be a day of rest," he said. "It'll be more toward the night I think that people start figuring out what's next. It's going to be a matter of waiting until people are released from jail, because they're the most committed." About 300 protesters were arrested for various charges, including unlawful assembly, early Wednesday. "That's a significant number, and that to some degree is the core of the movement."
The 36-year-old former commodity broker serves on Occupy L.A.'s demands committee. He was lucky enough to avoid arrest, but several key organizers on other committees were among those taken in last night, which makes planning the next course of action difficult. Rudy said Occupy L.A. may head to Pershing Square. "So we'll see how that works out," he said with some trepidation.
Before finding a new semi-permanent residence for the movement, organizers want to make sure fellow protesters make bail. Occupy L.A. has been collecting donations in anticipation of police intervention, but Rudy said he wasn't sure they were prepared to accommodate such a large number.
To that end, the size of Occupy L.A. may be its ultimate foil. Rudy said he thought reaching "critical mass" may have been the tipping point for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to order the raid, without waiting for the outcome of the recently filed injunction against eviction.
"There were certain things they were asking us to do, but when you have so many people out there with so many different grievances and ideas as to why they're there, it becomes impossible," he said. "Things just kept adding up."
Rudy conceded that overreaching, attempting to advance such a wide range of demands, has been an undermining problem within the movement. And if more people join, as he said they would in the worsening economy, that handicap could arguably further diminish the movement's impact.
But the organizer seemed confident more bodies would instead make for a more successful movement.
"Instead of having bread lines, we'll have people coming to Occupy to eat and to partake and share and find comfort, and do something about the problem," he said.
"The critical mass of the movement, with properly articulated demands that are consistent with ending corporatocracy, will exact change that we need. But it's a process. It's not going to happen today."
Today, Occupiers bail out their brethren and start to rebuild.
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