City councilman urges Occupy L.A. to move indoors, into politics
A top Los Angeles city official on Sunday urged Occupy L.A. participants to take their movement indoors and into established politics — and received a sometimes combative reception in the process.
L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl addressed a packed plaza south of City Hall at noon, about 12 hours before police have indicated that they could move in to dismantle encampment, first pitched seven weeks ago.
The L.A. gathering is the nation’s largest remaining round-the-clock civic occupation to raise awareness about economic inequality and other issues. Close to 700 have moved in to the 1.7 acres of green space around City Hall; their numbers swell periodically for marches and other events.
“We want a peaceful transition from this land to action,” said Rosendahl, emphasizing his support for their cause by pointing to his American flag tie. “I’m wearing the American flag because this is democracy at its best.”
Rosendahl restated an offer worked out in conjunction with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office. Activists would have a daily “constant opportunity for public speech” on the west steps of City Hall until 10:30 p.m.
The 10:30 curfew for expression immediately prompted shouts of “No way,” from those assembled.
Rosendahl added that a city council committee would work within the city government to pursue the agenda of protesters. He urged them to participate and also to work to elect like-minded officials.
A woman who identified herself as Geneva said the current protest site — outdoors, centrally located and highly visible — is essential.
“If you take this indoors it will die,” she told Rosendahl.
Others decried the city’s response as both temporary and inadequate.
“We want solutions and capitalism isn’t working,” a speaker said.
Rosendahl repeatedly expressed his sympathy for those assembled, but also said that, “We don’t want violence. Los Angeles has been an example of cooperation and we should stay focused on that.”
The removal of Occupy protests in other cities has sometimes led police to use aggressive tactics and weapons, including batons and pepper spray, when demonstrators did not obey orders to leave.
One activist challenged Rosendahl to show his solidarity by agreeing to be arrested with protesters in an act of civil disobedience.
He said he would not take part but would fight for their principles “through the political process,”
-- Teresa Watanabe and Howard Blume
Photo: A hand-painted eviction notice is posted at the Occupy L.A. encampment Saturday. Credit: Andrew Dalton / Associated Press