Occupy San Fernando Valley set for Saturday morning
Organizers say they are launching a new protest against corporate greed in front of the Van Nuys Courthouse on Saturday called Occupy San Fernando Valley.
The group has a march planned up Van Nuys Boulevard and a rally Saturday afternoon, capped by a meeting in the evening. Los Angeles police said they met Friday with representatives from the mayor's office and the city attorney at City Hall downtown to address the protest, but declined to say what was discussed.
Marcos Perez, one of the organizers, said the group has been told they cannot set up an overnight encampment at the site. If asked, members have decided they will move to the sidewalk or walk or stand until they are allowed to return to the courthouse plaza at 6 a.m., he added.
For the daylight hours, protesters will be bringing tents and sleeping bags, which they see as the core symbol of what they're trying to say, Perez added.
"A lot of people are losing their homes because of the greed of Wall Street and the banks and their only shelter is sleeping bags and tents," said Perez, a political science student at Los Angeles Valley College. "If we aren't allowed to bring in tents and canopies it's restricting our free speech."
In Orange County, about a dozen members of Occupy Irvine have been sleeping on the grass in front of the Civic Center since Tuesday, when the Irvine City Council voted to let them camp out. Previously, the group, which started their protest at mid-month, had been breaking down their setups each evening and walking or marching overnight, then settling back in in the morning, Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen said.
"They been cooperative and peaceful; we haven't had any police issues," Engen said. "They're keeping it clean."
Perez said that he’s aware of criticism leveled at the movement by Los Angeles city officials this week. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the movement "cannot continue indefinitely."
But Perez said he thinks there aren’t enough occupations.
“If we want this idea of occupying public space to actually do something, this is something that can’t stop,” he said. “Despite what officials say, I don’t think its as simple as packing things up and going home again.”
-- Gale Holland and Matt Stevens
Photo: In downtown Los Angeles, Occupy Los Angeles continues on the lawn of City Hall. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times