“OCCUPY LOS ANGELES”
When the sound of the protestors banging on their bongos blended in with the synchronized chants of “we want change,” the scene became reminiscent of a different era. Add the peace signs, the art deco style of Los Angeles City Hall and the countless tents, and just for a second, one could realize what the protests of the 1960’s might have felt like.
But it’s 2011, and as the nation faces mounting debt and economic instability, “Occupy Los Angeles” is only one piece of a movement that has spread to other cities across the country and internationally. Protestors say they are fighting to end corporate and government corruption.
“Everybody has their own reasons why they’re fighting,” said Jason Gonzalez, of Los Angeles, a protestor at “Occupy Los Angeles”. “I’m here to end corruption and I’m tired of seeing, like, all the struggle that peoples [sic] are going through.”
“We are here to take back the government of the United States,” said Nazareth La Vie, a member of “The 99 Percent”, “to attempt to put an end to the federal government as we know it today.”
Others are there to fight rising tuition rates, the cost of gasoline and some are even there to fight the “Occupy” movement itself.
“I’m marching to show my solidarity with the movement to counter inequality in the United States,” said Martin Gonzales, who showed up just for the day to show his support. “It has grave consequence throughout our society.”
Among the numerous tents are plenty more signs, which say everything from “No more war on the poor” to simple messages like “Love” or the universal symbol for peace. Occasionally, an opposition poster of President Barack Obama portrayed as Adolf Hitler can be seen. Food is donated and distributed to the protestors. Overall, the Los Angeles version of the movement has been peaceful, as compared to Occupy Wall Street, which has seen many violent arrests and clashes with police thus far.
“It is kind of, sort of a state of confusion. And the police have been part of that too,” said Patrick, a carpenter who declined to give his last name. “They’ve approached it from a standpoint that we are legally, peacefully exercising our rights to assemble …”
THE 99 PERCENT
According to the official Occupy Los Angeles website, they are a leaderless group who came together to represent “The 99 Percent.” They’ve come together because, according to UC Santa Cruz Sociology Professor G. William Domhoff, as of 2007, “the top 1 percent of households (the upper class) owned 34.6 percent of all privately held wealth … leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).”
However, the same study shows that while the top 20 percent earn 59.1 percent of the income in the U.S., they pay 64.3 percent of all taxes paid. But Domhoff added, “the details on those who earn millions of dollars each year are very hard to come by, because they can stash a large part of their wealth in off-shore tax havens in the Caribbean and little countries in Europe, starting with Switzerland.”
Saturday marked a possibly landmark, day for the Occupy movement when thousands of people in 82 countries across the world took to the streets in some form of protest.
The day was organized by United for Global Change, an organization that centralized the call online for a worldwide rally.
Yesterday’s protests reached 952 cities, including London, Melbourne, Toronto, Hong Kong and Rome, where things got violent with police, according to United for Global Change. Even Santa Clarita has created its own “Occupy” movement online with this Facebook page.
The worldwide movement stems from the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York City, which have lasted well over a month. In America, the protests can be found in major cities from coast-to-coast, including Portland, Denver, Chicago and Miami, just to name a few.
Though certain last names are the same or similar, the writer is not related to anyone in this story.