Of all major U.S. cities with Occupy movements, LA has been by far the most calm — and the city government has been the most accommodating. The City Council voted early on to support the movement, while Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has affirmed the protesters right to assemble, as well as nodded favorably toward their cause. The city also gave the movement a lot of time to prepare for what was supposed to be a departure today from its encampment at City Hall.
But they're still there. And filing a lawsuit to stick around.
To borrow a line from "Gladiator," some people should know when they're conquered. Or, more accurately, when they're been treated with kid gloves for an exceptionally long period of time. To its credit, LA is taking the sluggishness of the Occupy departure/non-departure in stride. That's consistent with how the city has dealt with Occupy so far.
LA has even gotten proactive, offering a controversial deal for the Occupiers to get office space and — yes — farmland in exchange for abandoning their tent city.
At this point, however, Occupy LA may be turning into a victim of its own mellowness and the tolerance that the authorities have shown toward it. The larger movement, jettisoned from places like Zuccotti Park in Manhattan — home to the original Occupy Wall Street group — has moved on. Phase two of Occupy will likely entail political organization. Like the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era, Occupy can reconvene periodically for demonstrations. It can agitate in the media. It could even run for office, taking a page from the Tea Party playbook.
But is it really logical for it to cling to its ad-hoc "ownership" of real estate?
Given the way the authorities are now conducting themsleves, maybe not. In the video below, Keith Olbermann and Robert Reich discuss Occupy taking on a higher level of political and economic sophistication, using levers of power that are commonly available. They point to Bank Transfer Day as a good example: people who might agree with Occupy, but don't want to sleep in a park, instead registering protest with their wallets.
If Occupy survives, we should expect more of the same.
KPCC has full coverage of Occupy LA here.