EDIT: AUGUST 17, 2012
The messages I’ve received have asked me to make clear that the people fighting in these images were not affiliated with Occupy LA, nor did the group wish for them to be there. As a journalist I covered Occupy Philly from the first days at Dilworth Plaza until the night they were evicted. I lived among them and talked to many of the people on a personal basis. Many of these stories and more can be seen at Occupy215.net. For Occupy LA, I merely wanted to see in what shape the group was still in, and within these images is what I found.
The large African American man was loud and boisterous from the moment I arrived and was presumably in the same mood before then. He was amped up beyond the point of control. I had no way of knowing if he was a part of the group or not. The small Hispanic fellow finally approached and said “why don’t you just shut the fuck up, man?” and then slapped him in the face. The big fellow came at him with a huge right haymaker, and then a strong left, but the swift little man ducked under both. All available bodies jumped on top of the large man, while the smaller one got free and started punching him in the back of the head.
Around this time those who wished to meet and actually have a discussion gathered the people and swiftly made their way away from the park without the company of the two fighters. In the last image, the group in full can be seen outside the Los Angeles Community Action Network Headquarters, which advertise on its website campaigns of: civil and human rights, share the wealth, women’s issues, anti-violence, food access, community events and civic participations. If the group continued on a march from there, I do not know. The police on bikes had not followed, but at the entrance to the parking garage from which I had taken the shot was an undercover police officer keeping a close eye on them.
I realize I’m perpetuating the negative stigma of the movement by showing only these photos and nothing more. But, as I said, I had seen online that they were planning a march and this is what I arrived to. For me, it was just the same old shit I had seen when the movement in Philadelphia had begun to collapse. I didn’t come to this rally for financial gain, I just want to be there and see for myself. But, when I being to feel uncomfortable in an unnecessary situation, there’s no reason for me to stay. This may be shitty journalism, but this “democracy” that Occupy exemplifies is no better.
More pictures after the jump.
Occupy LA, or what’s left of it, planned a small march on July 24, 2012. What I found was a ragtag bunch of youths who preferred to shit-talk, in-fight and eventually brawl with one-another instead of coming together around whatever issue they planned to rally behind. I can’t speak for the whole group, nor did I stay long enough for them to actually get to the point.
The police only watched as two of the people fought and threw punches, which was probably the best choice they could have made. Getting involved have only caused them problems, and for all intents and purposes, Occupy LA has been squashed out and eradicated. Up north in Oakland, that group had gained the backing of various unions and actually stood for something. Down in LA is much different, more of a homeless and confused refuge for lost souls than a group of idealists, or whatever you want to call the more organized group.
Spending the amount of time as I have with Occupy Philly and with OWS, I’ve seen the operation working with plans and organization. I felt more at-risk around these 20 or so people than I did in the middle of 40,000 people in New York City. Plus, without media credential, I might as well been one of the media flunkies that spin the issue in a pro-occupy. I try my best to remain independent, but there’s no denying that this group has lost their fire. Maybe I would have been proven wrong had I stayed until the end, but I felt it was time for me to leave.