NOVEMBER 22, 2011
In a preposterous act that could set a dangerous precedent, Los Angeles officials have offered protestors from the movement to end economic segregation and social injustice prime downtown office space, housing and public land to farm.
It marks the beginning of legitimate negotiations between an established government entity and the often violent, leftist “Occupy” movement that’s paralyzed cities nationwide to denounce corporate America’s unjust treatment of minorities and the poor. In New York more than 150 people were arrested and several police officers suffered injuries. In Oakland California police were forced to use riot gear and tear gas to disperse the huge, violent crowds and in Las Vegas nearly two dozen protesters were arrested.
In Los Angeles, Occupy leaders have promoted violence as necessary to achieve their goals yet Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has support the effort since the encampment was established in front of City Hall two months ago. This week he ordered his staff to offer Occupy protestors a package of incentives that includes downtown office space, housing and farmland, according to the local newspaper.
The idea is to persuade them to abandon their camp outside City Hall, where the lawn has been trashed, business disrupted and a police force permanently deployed to keep things under control. The city has offered protesters a generous $1 annual lease on a 10,000-square-foot office space near City Hall, land so they can farm and housing for the battalion of homeless folks who have joined the camp.
Occupy Los Angeles is among the nation’s best organized offshoot of the original Occupy Wall Street, with an official “general assembly” headquartered in the city’s downtown and topnotch, pro bono legal representatives. Protestors gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, according to the official “Declaration of Occupation” posted on the group’s website. They are “one people, united” against corporations that “place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality.”
On a national scale the occupy movement has gained momentum in recent weeks with mass protests in major cities and a new, politically-connected leader (Van Jones) with close ties to President Obama. Jones, who describes himself as a “rowdy black nationalist” turned communist, had been appointed “Green Czar” by Obama but his radical history forced his ouster.
He has bounced back on the national scene as the self-appointed Occupy Wall Street spokesman and founder of a new community group (Rebuild the Dream) that’s capitalizing on the protests with its special brand, the “American Dream Movement.” Politicians must stop giving tax breaks to the rich while slashing vital services families depend on, the group says. In short, the American dream must be rebuilt to become more inclusive.
During a recent interview on national television Jones confidently said “you haven’t seen anything yet,” further warning: “Wait until the 99 percent movement moves over into politics.” The protests will evolve from anger to answers, from pointing out the problem to pointing out the solution, Jones explained. The movement is also in the process of recruiting 2,000 candidates to run for office under the 99 percent banner, he said.
Before you know it the feds will follow L.A.’s lead by offering Occupy protestors a national headquarters near the capitol and maybe even health insurance and other benefits.
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