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Occupy LA protestors march through the downtown Los Angeles financial district on "Bank Transfer Day," November 5, 2011. Bank Transfer Day, created by the Occupy movement, is a national effort to get people to move their money from large corporate banks into smaller banks or credit unions. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talks to members of the media in front of City Hall in downtown in the early hours of November 30, 2011 in Los Angeles.Protesters remained on the City Hall lawn despite a deadline, set by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to dismantle their campsite and leave the park which the city declared closed as of 12:01 am November 28th. 1400 members of the Los Angeles Police raided the park this morning and removed or arrested all of the Occupy LA protesters.
It's the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Movement, which started out innocuously enough in a park in lower Manhattan before sweeping across the nation and the world. In Los Angeles, we had our own Occupy experience, centered on City Hall downtown. It assembled a few weeks after the protesters in New York and held its ground until the end of November, when they were ejected by the LAPD. Along with way, Occupy L.A. distinguished itself as both the most peaceful of the major expressions of the movement in U.S. cities; and as the occupied city that saw the most cooperation between city government and the protecters (not surprising, given that City Hall is right across the street from police headquarters).
The L.A. Times runs down what Occupy L.A. has been up to since. The answer is not a whole lot, although there have been periodic disruptions since last year:
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Occupy LA protesters demonstrate on the front lawn of Los Angeles City Hall after the midnight deadline set by city officials to shut down the encampment expired on November 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Occupy Movement is planning to start a "Spring offensive" on May 1.
The Occupy Movement is getting ready to fire itself back up for what some are calling — maybe tongue in cheek, maybe not — a "spring offensive." The plan is to reassemble tomorrow, and the timing is transparent: It's May Day, the day when the workers of the world traditionally unite. Although the political right doesn't call them "workers" — it calls them "communists."
It doesn't seem to me that the basis for what the movement is protesting has changed all that much since the winter. So I'm reposting from back then what I wrote about Occupy L.A., which took over the lawns around City Hall for weeks, gained a fair amount of local support, protested relatively peacefully compared with Occupy efforts in other cities, and was then evicted by the authorities with some arrests. What are these folks still mad about? Read on...
Protesters blocking the Port of Long Beach
It's a good question. What's the relationship between protesting the ascent of a global financial elite and protesting regular old trade in and out of the nation's largest Pacific coast ports?
Evidently, there's a Goldman Sachs tie-in. The Vampire Squid owns 51-percent of SSA Marine, a global mega-shipper that has major operations at the Port of Long Beach. The general idea, according to Occupy the Ports, is that SSA is somehow contributing to America's rather substantial trade imbalance with China. Greaterlongeach.com summarizes:
[A] flyer [circulated to protesters] cites a variety of reasons for focusing protests on SSA Marine. These include two specific claims—that the company the company failed to alert workers about potentially hazardous cargo in Oakland, and that it was fined for building an illegal road to a project in Washington. They also point to wider policies that protest organizers say have depressed wages and benefits for truck drivers and de-industrialized the United States so that incoming shipping containers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles outnumber outgoing shipping containers 7-1.
Michael Novick, a retired schoolteacher who is part of the Occupy the Port movement, responded to a call from GreaterLongBeach.com and expanded on the implications of the imbalance of import-export traffic through the local ports.
“If there were as many containers going out as there are coming in there would be 10 times as many jobs,” said Novick, who said he expects Occupy the Ports to protest in front of SSA Marine this Monday from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
But coordinating a protest at SSA Marine isn’t easy. The company is so big that it has five locations within the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles: Pacific Container Terminal, Terminal A, Terminal c60, and Pier F, Berth 206 in Long Beach, and Outer Harbor 54/55 in San Pedro.
Looks like the day of reckoning for the Occupy Movement is upon us. When I googled "occupy" just now, I got a lot of news about how various cities are trying to dislodge the protestors from the public sites they've, you know...occupied.
I'll check in with Twitter next and see what's happening in real time.