Occupy L.A.: Protesters vow to make camp at banks, country clubs
Occupy Los Angeles protesters and supporters from labor, religious and immigrant rights groups insisted Wednesday that the eviction of the tent city from the lawn of City Hall -- renamed "Solidarity Park" by the protesters -- does not signal an end to the movement.
"An idea can't be evicted -- a movement can't be imprisoned," said Mario Brito, an Occupy protester who had been part of the ultimately failed negotiations with the city to allow the protesters to stay, and one of the plaintiffs who sued the city in an attempt to stop the eviction.
"City Hall and the occupation of City Hall was a potent and powerful symbol," he said. "Our movement is not just made of symbols."
Brito said Occupy L.A. will now focus on pushing for a national moratorium on foreclosures, and that more short-lived encampments might spring up at various locations, including in front of banks or the homes of their executives, or even their country clubs.
"I hope we take more Bank of America plazas," said David Huerta, vice president of United Service Workers West, a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). (That effort may be stymied in Los Angeles, where a fence was erected around the bank plaza after protesters briefly set up tents there Nov. 17.)
Some even said the end of the encampment may be a boon for the movement.
"The camp did draw a lot of our energy, just managing the security and the food," said Magda Freedom Rod, 42, an Occupy protester who ran a live video stream from the encampment at City Hall.
Rod said Occupy L.A.'s 41 committees will not be disbanded and that the protesters will continue to hold nightly general assemblies outside City Hall.
Brito also dismissed concerns that the protest movement is fracturing.
"I think if it goes off in two or three directions, it only makes it stronger, actually," he said.
As well as assuring the public that the movement will not disband, the protesters took advantage of the news cameras to chastise the mayor and city attorney's office for the "punitive" $5,000 bail set for protesters arrested during the eviction, and to demand that they be released on their own recognizance.
-- Abby Sewell