Occupy Los Angeles – The Beginning Is Near

Yesterday, after nearly three hours of debate, the LA City Council approved a resolution formally endorsing the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

The resolution was introduced last week by councilmembers Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl. It seeks to address “the City’s position to support the First Amendment Rights carried out by ‘Occupy Los Angeles,'” according to the L.A. City Council Agenda.

The recommendation supports the continuation of peaceful protests and advises the city departments to bring the already-approved Responsible Banking measure up for a final vote before the council by the end of October.

The council members saidthe Responsible Banking measure will alleviate some of the concerns of the downtown demonstrators. The measure demands accountability and results from banks supported by taxpayer dollars.

The responsible banking ordinance will score banks based on the number of home loan modifications accommodated, the number and location of its branches and how they contribute to affordable housing.

See more by clicking “There’s more.”

The Responsible Banking Ordinance is in direct response to the story of Rose Gudiel, a 35-year-old state government employee, who refused to leave her foreclosed home in La Puente..

Gudiel set off a massive protest and media frenzy when people got wind of the foreclosure of her home, which Guidel has shared with her disabled mother and other relatives for ten years. A coalition of activists kept a round-the clock vigil outside the Bel-Air mansion of the president of OneWest Bank that had initiated foreclosure proceedings. From there, they moved to the sidewalk outside Fannie Mae’s office in Pasadena, after discovering the government-sponsored lender had taken over Gudiel’s loan. Another group surrounded Gudiel’s house, pledging to risk arrest if sheriff deputies tried to evict the family, including her wheelchair-bound mother.

Police arrested Gudiel and five others when they refused to leave. In the end, Gudiel prevailed, bank executives relented and she remains in her house.

I shot the video above in downtown Los Angeles on October 8th and 9th, 2011. OccupyLA had already been camped out at Los Angeles City Hall for two weeks, hundreds of tents surrounded the building.

For a “leaderless” movement, the activists are incredibly organized. Already they have a media tent, kitchen tent, first aide center and a lender library. Monetary donations are meticulously recorded and receipts given back to the donors. Their A/V systems are solar powered. Crews of organizers patrol the grounds, cleaning up refuse, recycling cans and bottles. They hope to have a weekly newspaper up and running in the next few days.

I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I was excited by what I saw. Thousands of people rallied or visited the tent city while I was there. Conversations were numerous, anger was tangible, and hope was still very much alive.

If we’re lucky, what we are witnessing is the rebirth of the American Dream in a new generation. The road will be long, the going hard. They will need our help, and we must not fail them.

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7 thoughts on “Occupy Los Angeles – The Beginning Is Near”

  1. The Occupy San Francisco people were demonstrating at Well Fargo HQs yesterday

    I was waiting for the bus and there were so many helicopters above me

    I couldn’t figure out what was happening

    More pwer to OWS

    And WHY is Obama passing another three ‘Free Trade’ deals ?

    Hasn’t ‘Free Trade’ Cost us enough already ??

    NAFTA is a SCAM !!

    So is ‘Free Trade’ !!!

  2. Thank you Marta. It’s great to hear a first-hand account. I was at Occupy Santa Cruz yesterday and saw smaller, but similar things.

    A really good self-organized community.

    An incredible friendly, optimistic spirit.

    People just pitching in to do whatever they can.

    People sharing their stories and experience.

    An amazing blending of experience and enthusiasm.

    I ran into a city councilman from Watsonville. I asked if he’d heard about the L.A. resolution. He said yes. I suggested he bring one to the city council in Watsonville. He considered it briefly and then agreed to do it.

    There were a lot of college students there. Santa Cruz is a college town. There were young families with kids. And there were a fair number of boomers like me there. One lady told me it reminded her of the 60s. When I agreed, she asked “the civil rights movement?” I said no, Vietnam. She said she’d done civil rights, but believed it was all the same struggle–then and now. I couldn’t help but agree with her again.

    One woman had a laptop she was using to take live video to stream online. Another told me her daughter was at Occupy London. One man had been in New York and DC the week before and told us of his experiences with the Occupy movements there. Something that particularly struck me was his story of how another march joined together with the Occupy DC folks when they realized–as my fellow marcher did in Santa Cruz did–that we’re all marching for the same thing.

    Justice for all. Fairness and equality for all.

    I’m inspired by the people who started this. The people who sustained this. By the creativity I continue to see. By the dedication to finding a new way. And by the incredible spirit I hear from all over the world. This is something new. It is history in the making. And I feel privileged to see it unfolding.

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