Posted 5 years ago on Nov. 27, 2011, 10:40 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, has ordered Occupy LA to pack up and leave Solidarity Park (formerly City Hall Park) by 12:01AM tonight or face arrest. Villaraigosa – who initially claimed to support the Occupation and has lauded OWS for "awakening the country's conscience" – is now citing "public health and safety" as justification to evict the encampment, even as LA police chief Charlie Beck refused to reject the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against nonviolent protestors.
As Villaraigosa held a press conference announcing the park would be closed indefinitely after eviction, Occupy LA held a counter press conference outside City Hall. Meanwhile inside, Occupy LA delivered part of its General Assembly's response, including their so-far unmet grievances:
As a collective, Occupy Los Angeles would like to express their rejection of the City of Los Angeles’ alleged proposal that we leave City Hall by November 28th, 2011, in exchange for an apparently now rescinded offer of a 10,000 square foot building, farmland and 100 SRO beds for the homeless. . . .
We the people have peaceably assembled in public space seeking at minimum a full of redress of grievance for the government's criminal mistreatment of the people and fraudulent application of judiciary responsibilities, in large part for the interest of exploitative corporations and weaponized banks.
At 485 tents and estimated between 750-900 people, Occupy LA is the largest remaining Occupy encampment. Occupiers have already organized a mass call-in asking their supporters to urge Villaraigosa not to evict the camp, and prepared residents of the camp with nonviolent action trainings and legal advice for those willing to face arrest to stand up for their rights. Learning lessons from the eviction of Liberty Square, Occupy LA moved its library to a safer location. Some people were designated mediators to help keep the resistance nonviolent, while others who wish to take action without facing arrest were given impartial observer training.
Organizers have also begun seeking trucks to help those who wish to leave, and are actively soliciting places for displaced residents to sleep in the coming days. A solidarity march and eviction block party is planned for tomorrow.
Occupy LA has already received a tremendous show of support from the community. For example, the following is an excerpt from a statement of solidarity from the South Central Farmers:
When causes reach out and band together, true movements for economic and social change begin and coalesce. In standing in support of the South Central Farmers, Occupy Los Angeles stands with our occupation of the South Central Farm five years ago, our struggle for healthy food and community rights, and with Los Angelenos' long history of resistance to our city leaders' oppression of those among our friends and neighbors who are least advantaged.
The South Central Farmers stand in solidarity with your “Counteroffer to the Mayor and LAPD” of November 24, 2011, and we share your grievances. We, too, recognize that the current social system increasingly favors the 1%, and the 99% is paying for that with our health, our education, our civic infrastructure, and our security. This has been the condition of many in that 99% for generations. For more and more of us, our very lives are degraded and even cut short for the benefit of the rich and powerful and those serving them.
According to some estimates, cities across the U.S. have spent around 18 million dollars policing and evicting Occupations. We must wonder, in a country where one third of people struggle in or at the brink of poverty, why are cities spending millions to assault free speech instead of creating shelters for the homeless or social programs for the 99%? Why do city politicians express concern for "health and safety" at Occupy encampments, while the health and safety of people suffering in impoverished neighborhoods throughout their very cities are willfully disregarded?
And why is their concern for "health and safety" expressed though tear gas and rubber bullets?
We can only conclude that Villaraigosa – like politicians across the world – is a servant of corporate interests, and that "health and safety" concerns with the Occupy movement serve merely as a pretext for suppressing popular dissent. But as Mayor Bloomberg and others in power have already discovered, Mayor Villaraigosa will soon learn:
You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.