Eric Richardson / blogdowntown
A protester is arrested during a Thursday afternoon Occupy LA march that did not have police permits.
Well, that didn't take long. Just as an innovative deal between the City of LA and Occupy LA protesters — a deal that would have gotten the protesters off City Hall's lawn and into 10,000 square feet if office space — was floated, it was criticized.
But it may still be in play. And if it is, it's consistent with the very enlightened stance LA has taken toward the Occupy Movement since it set up camp at City Hall almost two months ago.
Images of cops in riot gear rousting Occupy encampments across the nation have become ubiquitous in recent weeks, as many cities try to prevent the tent gatherings from becoming troublesome permanent fixtures. But Los Angeles has taken a different tack.
Officials have been quietly searching for common ground with Occupy representatives for several weeks, culminating in a highly unusual offer announced by protesters Monday: If the campers move off the City Hall lawn, the city will lease them work space for $1 a year, as well as provide land for protesters to garden.
As political blow back to the proposal mounted Tuesday, city officials backed away slightly from the offer, according to Scott Shuster, a protester who said he has been present at the meetings, which are headed by Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo. Shuster said it was unclear whether that offer was still on the table.
In the same piece, Councilman Bernard Parks suggested that Occupy shouldn't get such a good deal because other protesters would clamor for the same. You know, like...Neo-Nazis. But Neo-Nazis, while within their rights to freely assemble, are also often advocates of the overthrow of the U.S. government. Occupy, as far as I know, isn't making that case.
Parks is also worried about anti-abortion protesters, but for the most part, that's a well-organized and established movement that already has plenty of office space.
Besides, when a movement calls itself "Occupy," you can't expect it to easily surrender its physical footprint.
LA has so far been the most innovative U.S. city to deal with Occupy. It would be a shame if this deal falls apart over goofy hypotheticals and a misunderstanding of how the Occupy Movement is operating.