What's Next For Occupy L.A.
I've been trying to figure out this whole week "what's next for Occupy L.A."
Everyone I talk to directs me to the offshoot movements--99Rise, Fort Hernandez--as well as the General Assembly meetings that happen three times a week.
Thursday morning, the police visited Fort Hernandez in Van Nuys at five in the morning, taking their couches, signs and front fence.
The cops there have recently been visiting at odd hours--like at midnight on a child services stop-in, on the suspicion that the foreclosed home had children living there without running water.
They also drive by the house every 15 minutes or so--but denied to our reporter that they were doing anything in the way of "harassment."
This explains what I saw at the Occupy anniversary march on Monday, when the Fort Hernandez people stood lined up on Figueroa Street long after most others had gone to the curb to avoid arrest (or whatever LAPD was saying over megaphone).
While the protesters there yelled "Fuck the police" and carried the fierceness of the downtrodden, the 99Rise people have nothing but courtesies to say about the cops.
Eight protesters were arrested at the Bank of America protest downtown last Friday.
Thursday night I talked on the phone with Christopher Weeks, an 18-year-old from New Hampshire who sat down beyond police barricades and spent most of last weekend in jail for it.
Weeks goes to Occidental College, which has a lot of representatives in the 99Rise movement.
I've thought a lot about the differences between the central Occupy movement and its two major offshoot groups.
Fort Hernandez has seemed to retain Occupy's cigarette-smoking, rundown look--as well as its attitude and anti-cop mentality.
At 99Rise, you'll have a hard time bumming a cig, and when the cops ask you to stand up so they can cuff you, you don't go limp.
The 99Risers train their people in proper "getting-arrested" technique. On their website you can sign up for a free three-day training.
Almost everyone at their first protest was white, attractive, well-dressed, collegiate and focused.
Weeks described the respectfulness of the LAPD, who seemed to understand what Weeks told them about his reasons for protesting.
While in jail--which Weeks thinks was L.A. County, the nation's largest jail and maybe one of its shittiest--Weeks commiserated with fellow misdemeanor cellies and joked around on the way there with the cops.
This seems ideal from my perspective in terms of getting things calm and possibly constructive across the board, but you can't deny the piss that's behind the central movement and Fort Hernandez.
All this is meant to say that I don't know what's next for Occupy L.A., either because nobody will tell me or nobody knows.
The cops stay ahead of every announcement. You can imagine the officer who's assigned to trolling Facebook for fresh posts.
Many of the on-scene interviews I've done pre-march or pre-protest have amounted to "if I knew anything I wouldn't be telling you about it."
I know that some Occupiers were sleeping on the sidewalk around the City Hall lawn where they camped last year, like problem children relegated to tents in the backyard.
At the anniversary march I had nervous anticipation that they'd try to take the lawn back, but was reminded that such a push would only result in arrest all over again.
And even if you like getting arrested, there's only so much you can take.
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Occupy L.A. here.
Reach Assistant News Editor Michael Juliani here.
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