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Occupy L.A. Protesters Trained For Nonviolent Confrontation

Paige Brettingen |
November 28, 2011 | 11:02 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

Occupy LA camp seeks to maintain peace
Occupy LA camp seeks to maintain peace

In preparation for a potential early-morning raid Monday, Occupy L.A. protesters were prepared and instructed for how to handle confrontation as peacefully as possible.

"I'm not going to get in a fight with the police… there's no point to it.  If they want to do harm to us, there's not a whole lot I can do except try to minimize that," said Mike Caigoy, 30, who has been at Occupy L.A. on and off since October 1st.

In order to minimize the harm, Caigoy recalled some of the techniques he has learned from the nonviolent preparation technique sessions held at Occupy LA on Sunday.

According to Caigoy, he learned not to react to threats or heckling and how to keep people in his own group from resorting to violence; other techniques include how to lock his arms and hands to prevent his thumbs from being broken by policemen; and to duck if there is a baton being swung. 

The last technique is "to appeal to the humanity of the cops," said Caigoy.

With goggles to help with tear gas and a half-and-half mixture of antacid and water to help with pepper spray, Caigoy was part of the "ring of protesters" in the center of the Occupy camp.

Matt Kresling, 37, also was part of the circle and learned the nonviolent techniques.  He came down to the camp on Sunday to show his support for the protesters staying past  a 12:01 a.m. eviction notice.

"Everyone here for the most part is devoted to nonviolence… just so long as they don't kill us, we're willing to take a beating for what we believe in," he said.

Erica Camacho, 28, was another visitor there to show support.  Having experienced the violence in Occupy Oakland, she was happy to see the nonviolent tactics being taught at Occupy L.A.

"It's important to know how to protect yourself and protect the movement and how to stop anyone from getting violent," she said.

Though the scene at Occupy L.A. appeared calm Monday morning as the demonstrators sang, played guitar and maintained their circle in the center of the camp, there was still some apprehension.

"I'm sure [the police] will wait until there's a more manageable number of people.  If people don't come down tonight- which I hope they do- the camp might get closed," said Kresling.

Calgoy said staying visible is the key to maintaining the movement.

"The movement is about committing civil disobedience… you can't get stuck in an underground office like the one they offered us and maintain any kind of presence," he said.

"If we lose that presence, that is the end of the movement as far as I'm concerned," he said.

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