Downtown Los Angeles was transformed into a set for political theater over the weekend, with protesters pitching tents in front of City Hall and performance artists dancing on floats meandering through the streets.
Inspired by the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, several hundred people set up camp in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday and announced that they were there to stay.
Whether that will change when City Hall workers find themselves walking a gantlet of sign-wielding protesters Monday, or when vendors arrive to set up the regularly scheduled Thursday farmers market on the lawn, was unclear.
As protesters were staking out City Hall, the streets of downtown were taken over Sunday afternoon by a cacophonous parade of artists and activists expressing similar sentiments but organized separately.
The sleep-in followed a march and rally Saturday by a loosely organized group of activists called Occupy Los Angeles.
Tents and blankets dotted the lawn in front of City Hall on Sunday. Some people stood on the sidewalk holding signs or, in the case of one protester, playing a bagpipe, while others sprawled on blankets in the shade, painting signs, or circling up for impromptu strategy sessions. Passing cars honked in support. Supporters donated necessities such as pizza and portable toilets.
The movement takes issue with corporate influence on government and the shift of wealth and political clout toward the richest 1% of the population. Many protesters carried signs with variations on the slogan “We are the 99%.”
Jon Stewart, therefore, asked on September 20 of Ron Suskind, author of Confidence Men, the key question (video below):
We keep hearing that the Wall Street guys hate Obama, and my sense is ‘why?’ They’ve had it as good as anyone in this country over the past two and a half years, probably better. What’s their beef?
That elicited the answer that sums up this Administration better than has almost anything. Suskind responded:
I asked the same question. I talked to a senior Wall Street guy. I said ‘”What gives with this thing with Obama? You’re after him; he’s anti-business. God, he couldn’t have done more. He basically opened the federal purse for you guys. He saved your skin.” This guy says “You bet, you bet.'” And he says “No, no, you see. Of course, he’s not anti-business. But when we say he’s anti-business, he just ends up doing more for us. So we’re going to keep saying it.”
You, the reader, suspected this. But now we know it.
How the hell they ever turned this into a war anthem during the first Iraq war is beyond me. Here’s Julie Gold, who wrote the tune:
The Occupy Wall St. protesters can always use food and warm clothing. You can send non-perishable food, warm clothing, batteries, etc., to this address:
The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
118A Fulton St. #205
New York , NY 10038
JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.
“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”
From Naked Capitalism:
Now readers can point out that this gift is bupkis relative to the budget of the police department, which is close to $4 billion. But looking at it on a mathematical basis likely misses the incentives at work. Dimon is one of the most powerful and connected corporate leaders in Gotham City. If he thinks the police donation was worthwhile, he might encourage other bank and big company CEOs to make large donations.
And what sort of benefits might JPM get? It is unlikely that there would be anything as crass as an explicit quid pro quo. But it certainly is useful to be confident that the police are on your side, say if an executive or worse an entire desk is caught in a sex or drugs scandal. Recall that Charles Ferguson in Inside Job alleged that the use of hookers is pervasive on Wall Street (duh) and is invoiced to the banks.
Or the police might be extra protective of your interests. Today, OccupyWallStreet decided to march across the Brooklyn Bridge (a proud New York tradition) to Chase Manhattan Plaza in Brooklyn. Reports in the media indicate that the police at first seemed to be encouraging the protestors not only to cross the bridge, but were walking in front of the crowd, seemingly escorting them across:
The wee problem is that the police are in the street, and part of the crowd is also on the street (others are on a pedestrian walkway that is above street level). That puts them in violation of NYC rules that against interfering with traffic. Note the protest were aware fo the rules; they were careful to stay on the sidewalk on the way to the bridge.
Over 700 of the marchers were arrested, and the media has a rather amusing “he said, she said” account, with OccupyWallStreet claiming entrapment and the cops batting their baby blues and trying to look innocent.
Nothing as crass as an explicit quid pro quo! Just a little something to remind the cops that some people deserve more protection than others, and are likely to be very grateful for it. More here.
Sunday, Oct 2 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific | digby, Joan McCarter discuss developments of the week, highlighting issues neglected or misrepresented on the Sunday morning broadcasts, drawing from their work of the prior week and the wickedly funny Bobblespeak Translations Informative, thoughtful and passionate.Listen live and later on BTR