Los Angeles among cities ‘occupied’

By Daniel Ortiz / Staff Writer

The making of a movement (Chad Arias / Asst. Opinions Editor)

By Daniel Ortiz / Staff Writer

The youth turns up the heat on Wall Street.

Thousands have gathered in public squares all across the country in what has become the largest public demonstration against corporate greed since the bank bailouts of 2008.

On Oct. 15, mainly unemployed youth, have organized a tent occupation in downtown Los Angeles and are now strategizing the next steps as part of in what has become an international phenomena.

The attitude was serious among protestors in Los Angeles.

One was able to see a group of Maoist argue with a demonstrator over the ideas of revolution and what it should look like.

Many protestors knew the task ahead of them was not going to be easy.

Yet many were delighted at the mere fact that what they were doing may alter the course of history.

There were smiles all around. People were dancing and holding hands.

Couples were making out. Yet, people were debating.

People from all sorts of political and economic struggles took part in the occupation.

There was no single demand except strong desire for change of the current economic and political system.

One family was attending the occupation to protest the foreclosure of their house in La Puente, 20 miles east of Los Angeles.

Many were protesting environmental exploitation.

Many people were also opposed to the two wars in the Middle East.

Everyone had a reason for being there.

Victor Fernandez, a University of Southern California architecture student, was at the Occupy Los Angeles demonstration.

While giving a speech on the need for redistribution of wealth, he makes the case that the students have a lot at stake.

“It’s not just about home owners not being able to pay for their homes but it’s now also about students not being able to pay for their loans,” said Fernandez.

Unemployment among youth is passed depression levels.  According the United States Department of Labor, employment among youth 16-24 was at 48.8 percent, “the lowest rate on record.”

A lot of people are going to school with the promise of having a job upon graduating.

That no longer seems to be the case with Fernandez and many others who attended the occupation.  

“I think young people right now and worldwide are beginning to realize that their hopes aren’t as much as they thought they were when they were growing up,” Fernandez said. “And they don’t have much a stake in the system.”

Popularity among the president, both houses of congress, both political parties and Wall Street are low.

Incumbents from both parties are being elected out of office instead of in, while more Americans today favor higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for new jobs.

For those looking for an alternative and understanding the United States’ society, an occupation protest is a great first step according to Randy Childs, a mathematics teacher in Los Angeles.

“It’s really inspiring what this occupy movement represents and while capturing the interest of large groups of people,” Childs said.

“And it’s an important place to start understanding why this society, both economically and politically, is in the mess that it’s in and what can be done about it,” Childs said.

Among the many activities taking place at the Occupy Los Angeles event was a musical performance by Tom Morello, former guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.

Activities that were also taking place were on issues ranging from “Do-it-yourself” workshops hosted by anarchist to “Marxism 101” teach-ins by socialist.

Intellectual Cornel West and talk show host Tavis Smiley attended the occupation the day before to encourage the demonstrators.  

Many attendees to the protest thought an occupation isn’t enough.

 “I plan to go back and take this to the leadership to the union local United Electrical,” Fernando Ramirez said, a union organizer for United Electrical. “I work for to make efforts to mobilize as many members as possible to go to Occupy L.A., also link up with other unions who have similar ideas and goals,”

“I don’t think we have to wait until the national leadership decides that for their local unions. We should just take the leadership roles and try to get as many people to an occupation near their area,” Ramirez said.