Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Beginning Is Near- Occupy LA 2012

On the night of the 17th of October I got into LA from Mexico City, after living out of my backpack in a latin american country for 3 weeks.
I flew into Mexico City to be part of the Ship For World Youth Global Assembly. The SWYGA was an opportunity for ex participants of the international exchange program to reconnect and reaffirm their beliefs in the strength of international exchange programs and cross- cultural understanding. The SWY program, in my humble opinion, is an amazing program that connects people, young people all leaders in their own right, from all over the globe. It unites like- minded individuals striving to make this world a better place.
I got out of LAX customs at around 8pm and instantly went in search for a decent pescatarian meal. I found something in a little sandwhich shop in North Hollywood. Belly full of wheat bread and a tuna salad later, I found myself on the subway to Civic Centre in Downtown LA where the occupation was taking place.
Now before I go any further, I’d just like to tell you of my situation. I had only USD$15 in my pocket, my camera, few pairs of shorts and tees in my backpack, a poncho from Guanajuato, Mexico to keep me warm and an insatiable lust for experience. I was desperate for a place to sleep the night.
Walking into the movement was like, and I can only imagine this, walking into an anti war protest from the 60’s. A sea of tents, placards and witty anti- war, pro- humanity signs, literally littered the grounds outside the City Hall. There were close to about 300 young people, students, hippies, protestors, human rights activists, animal rights activists, freedom fighters, sustainable living activists, nomads, environmentalists, all known as occupiers, living there and occupying the grounds around LA’s City Hall
I imagine the City Hall to be a building representative of the state of the American society. But for an outside observer, like myself, those tents pitched up around the City Hall, now took on that roll.
You can imagine how special and magical this place became for me. A safe space, where individuals with nothing more then good old ordinary courage, gathered to protest in a non- violent, peaceful manner against criminal activities in the corporate world and standing up for the 99% of the population who have been wronged by corporate greed.
Its a beautiful thing to witness, people of different creeds, ethnicities, religions converging on common ground, because of common ground, to achieve a common goal.
These are ordinary people living in extra ordinary times. They all have mortgages, student loans, financial issues, credit card debts, real life problems and have come together not because they are anti- capital but because they hope for a better way forward.
There is a lot of disarray at the occupation, but nevertheless, it is an occupation, a movement that represents the world as it is today
For me, the Occupy LA is a collection of broken and incomplete ideas of people, coming together under a magnifying glass in the hopes of a more focused collective idea and voice. These individuals are a coalition of many ideas, that represent the entitlement to the right of an idea and a voice.
Many of the people I chatted with last night said they have lost their jobs due to corporate “Right Sizing”, or something to that extent. Most of them claim to be the 99% of the population who are victims of corporate exploitation.
They mentioned to me, that this is history in the making and they were just glad to be surrounded by these people and to be in this moment.
The mood in the air is more relaxed then I anticipated. Tensions, created by news from other occupations, are broken by drum circles, jam sessions, the “love committee” and native american dances.
The people, their aspirations, their dreams are as powerful, as it is contagious.
They are the 99%, you can arrest them, but you cant lock away the idea
Im overwhelmed by the feeling, that this is indeed a generation that can bring about change, through non- violence and peaceful demonstrations
Don’t get me wrong, having so many ideas and opinions can lead to disagreements. However, disagreements should strengthen ideas and encourage us to listen to each other and broker solutions and I feel like that is whats happening here
The writing is on the wall, or rather on the steps leading up to the City Hall, “The Beginning Is Near”
I spent one night in a tent outside the City Hall in Downtown LA and got to experience a tiny bit of a social, political, economic and environmental revolution.
Sitting there and trying to digest the whole scene, a few thoughts haunt my mind. How long will this go on for? If it rains will the occupiers power on?What will happen if the LAPD decide to stop cooperating with the occupiers?
As these thoughts manifest in my mind, I am reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “The point of non- violent direct action is to create such a crisis and foster such a tension” that change can be brought about
As a youth of this generation, I hope it will.
The occupation can succinctly be summarized with this line chalked around the pavement of the City Hall in Downtown LA, a line I can only assume is directed towards the giant corporations that make up the 1%- “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

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