Friday, July 13, 2012

July 12- Chalkwalk

       It's unfortunate that time and time again we have seen peaceful events grow to riots caused by an excessive show of force by the LAPD.  For a bit of background- the chalk walk event was organized by a group of activists associated with Occupy Los Angeles to bring attention to the arrests that have been occurring at 626 Wilshire (the Central City East Association building).  Arrests that have largely occurred due to activists chalking political messages outside of the building to bring attention to various initiatives being pressed forward by the CCEA to essentially strip downtown clean of people the 'not-for-profit business corportation'  sees as undesirable.  Since NBC is uninterested in doing any research to coherently articulate what the organizers intention was and since even the artwalk co founder seems to be incapable of reading a press release or stay aware of what people in his community do;  Let me state again.  The purpose of Chalk Walk was to bring attention to the arrests that had been occurring at the CCEA.  
        The action was planned to take place between 5th and 6th on Spring street and was intended to be a peaceful outreach event to encourage friendly dialogue.  Many artwalk regulars (parents and their children included) stopped by to draw with us.
        Many interesting conversations sparked from discussing MacKinney vs. Nielsen the ninth circuit court of appeals decision that ruled that chalk could not be considered vandalism and was a constitutionally protected form of free speech under the first amendment.  8 arrests occurred between 7:30- and 8:45.  All for.... you guessed it- chalking.  Everything remained peaceful during the first 7 arrests as the chalkers remained calm as they were taken into custody.

        The escalating incident happened during the 8th arrest.  Apparently the LAPD wanted the chalk gone, the rain wasn't working fast enough, and formed a skirmish line in front of the chalkers.  Occupiers formed a line and started chanting.  A lot of the artwalk patrons were confused as to why there were riot police when no riot was occurring.  A female art patron -not associated with OLA- trying to de-escalate the situation, walked in the middle of the two lines and drew a smiling stick figure.  She was then tackled to the ground with such force that it caused her boyfriend to panic and lunge toward the police to protect her.  He was shoved away by a couple officers.  The womyn was then grabbed, flipped over, dropped face down onto the street and then pinned down by an officer's knee.  Her boyfriend was visibly upset and had to be restrained by 4 of his friends. It was at this point that a multitude of art walk patrons rushed into the street to protest her treatment.  Tear gas was fired.
Skid Row Media: Chalk Walk report

     As the crowd swelled, residents watching from their windows began to throw bottles at the police line. It was this excuse that LAPD took to begin firing rubber bullets into the crowd. Some artwalk bystanders were hit by the less- lethal ammunition* and suffered some pretty ugly injuries as a result. 
 One man -not pictured below- was shot in his chest, had the wind knocked out of him and ended up collapsing right in front of the skirmish line. 
   A few female protesters holding the front line rushed forward to help him and called for a medic.  However we could not get to him before the police kicked the skateboard he was cradling into his face. 

    As we were all forced to take a step back we watched as he was trampled over, flipped onto his face, zipped tied and dragged onto the sidewalk.

    It was at this point that some bar patrons came out and hurled a couple bottles at the police.  Two female occupiers mic check and told the crowd, "Don't throw bottles- when you do that the cops don't care to aim at you.  They just shoot in your general direction." "Keep your brothers and sisters safe, we are not prepared to deal will less lethal ammunition."

At one point the police attempted a right flank to kettle protesters but everyone was able to get out of the designated area.  We believe an additional 3 people were arrested as LAPD pushed the crowd North on Spring, none of which were associated with Occupy L.A. A couple hours and probably hundreds of thousands of city dollars spent on LAPD machismo later, the crowd naturally dispersed and continued along with their night.
   So- now the real nitty gritty- Why did this happen?  I'll keep this brief since this post is running a bit on the long side.  This wasn't about chalk, this wasn't about 'people provoking the cops'- it was about finding any excuse to lock up individuals speaking out about what is going on in downtown.    

 The CCEA's safer cities initiative is nothing more than a way to gentrify the area into a mono-socio/economic neighborhood that does not have to worry about "ethnic problems".  Harassing the houseless population of skid row and co-ercing them to leave is just the first step to expand CCEA's current 97 block territory to cover the whole of downtown.  Don't believe the houseless get harassed without reason? Go to LACAN and talk to any of the individuals that work there and I guarantee you will have an entirely different perspective on what goes on in downtown.  The safer cities initiative also lays out a plan that CCEA plans to implement by 2020 that would in essence clear out all of the businesses from Santee Alley.      
Skid row is comprised mostly of African American residents and Santee Alley is comprised mostly of Latino or Korean business owners.  While this 2020 plan may not be intentionally racist, it certainly brings into question the morality of determining someones future or making decisions about someones livelihood in a way that will not benefit them in any way.  As well as the morality of such decisions being made by people who only stand to benefit by other's misfortunate.  In the end- this is all about economics and keeping money in the hands of the "right" people.

Some food for thought-
           Did the consent decree actually do anything?
           Why are the interests of the CCEA only being taken into account and not the people its'
              policies will actually effect?

Before LAPD


After LAPD
*Note: less- lethal ammunition refers to rubber bullets, foam grenades, pepper spray rounds, tear gas, or any other ammunition the LAPD normally refers to as "non-lethal".  While law enforcement claims that these are not intended to kill the people they are aimed at; there have been various documented incidents of people dying or receiving life threatening injuries as a result of "improper use" of said ammunition.  Tear gas and other chemical weapons have also been documented to cause miscarriages.  
 from the perspective of artwalk regulars

my story got picked up and has top views on Occupied stories

It is also published in the latest issue of Turning the Tide!
Find out more info here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


     I am usually pretty cautious when it comes to on camera interviews.  Call me paranoid but when it comes to speaking on political movements it can be difficult to know who you can trust not to chop and screw your words to their advantage.  Personally I'd rather only talk to people that I've gotten to know or can be vouched for by someone I trust. 

Anywho- one such person that I met, named Arpan has decided to make a short documentary on raid night and will be screening it on July 24. (details and trailers below) Although I have not known him for very long, I know he has gone out of his way to make sure that a variety of voices are represented in his piece- which more people should make an honest effort to do I think.

So.... come support! A couple people featured in the film, myself included, will be participating in a Q&A afterwards.


July 24, 2012
Sancho Art Gallery

1549 West Sunset Boulevard
Echo Park, CA 90026
A short film about the arrests at Occupy Los Angeles told by the arrested activists in their own words, by Arpan Roy.

Also, HEATHER LOCKIE and ALEX WAND will be performing Woody Guthrie songs in Woody's old LA neighborhood - Echo Park!

The event begins at 8, and the film will show at 9. There will be a Q&A after the film. $5 donation.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

PCU 2.0- La Casita

I guess Ian made a video. Ch-check it.  Neither me or Sergio are in this one but it definitely shows how beautiful our garden has started to become.  I guess Ian and I stressing over research and constantly monitoring the plants has worked out.

People's Collective University

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Monday, December 19, 2011

PCU- A critical discussion on our political situation (or is this fascism)

Hmmm--- I'm sad I had to miss this.  Definitely would have had things to add about the effectiveness of solely reform-based tactics.  Still interesting discussion though.  Sound drops..maybe I should transcribe. >.<

Side-note: I think people like meeting inside much better than in the cold or outside to have kids harassed by cops.

An Occupy Proposal for a Global People's Collective University

I'm tired but finally feeling a bit more like myself.  Sometimes I wonder if I should move on to another project but then I feel like an asshole for thinking that because I know I can still do something with this.  Chema found this on google and sent it to me, I feel better knowing I've contributed to something that makes people think.
{Excerpt from An Occupy Proposal for a Global People's Collective University ,--click the link, good blog}
"The idea for this diary came out of the concept of the "People's Collective University" that one could see at Occupy LA before the raid of November 30th.  The idea was that, as the Occupy movement was a start toward a solution for the political problem, the People's Collective University would be a start toward a solution for the educational problem."
"The most obvious example which comes to mind is the People's Collective University which was set up at the Occupy LA encampment.  Instructors would come to the area of the "university" and conduct hour-long dialogues about particular topics.  The magic about all of this was that these dialogues were "teach-ins" conducted as part of a larger protest, and so the subject matters were appropriate to that: "withdraw your money from the banks," "Paulo Freire and liberatory pedagogy," "the history and strategy of nonviolence," and so on."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Letter to my friends

-In anticipation of the raid on Los Angeles City Hall (Occupy Los Angeles: Solidarity Park)-

So one major downfall of my involvement with the Occupation of L.A city hall is that many of my friendships outside of the movement ended up suffering greatly. Most of the times this was not caused by any conflict in ideology but by the difficulty of keeping in touch.

I have done my best over the years to keep in contact with the people I hold dear; however because of busy lives, moving away, etc. etc. it has become a bit difficult. A lot of times the way I communicated with my friends/ family was over text, email, or my guilty pleasure: facebook.

Camping out in Solidarity park with little to no access to electricity and Internet obviously made this pretty damn impossible to keep regular contact especially since many times during the day my phone battery was drained by receiving group texts and fielding coordination calls with things related to the People's Collective University.
(now called Occupy Los Angeles Freedom School)

As the night of what came to be known as "fake raid" came closer, I began to feel more and more of a need to at least let my friends know what was going on. Also, it was important for me to create a space where dialogue with the people I cared about might be possible in the future. I also wanted to make clear that there are many different ways to support and that because of outside circumstances I understood that not everyone can put themselves on the front lines. I honestly believe that logically it is important that not everyone be on the front lines and it was important that the people I cared about felt equally empowered regardless of what they chose to do.

The following is a letter that I sent to all of my friends on facebook as well as many more over email.


Sunday November 27, 2011

Hello my beautiful family and friends,

For those of you who are unaware, I have become pretty heavily involved with the Los Angeles contingent of the Occupy movement that has taken up residence at Los Angeles City Hall. I have been there since the first day o
f the Occupation (October 1st) and have been focusing most of my efforts towards the development of a People's Collective University. (

This is an idea that a few people and I founded with the intention of disrupting the system through the implementation of an alternative educational model focused on providing inter-generational classes on political, social, and economic justice, sustainability, and community needs.

We believe the current public educational system to be oppressive, a place to indoctrinate and colonize (ALL races of people) and a system that is at it's core aimed to separate us and mold our thoughts so that we become tools of the state. We have based the structure of classes on Paulo Freire's idea of popular education. This style of teaching revolves around the idea of mutual respect, true critical thinking, and discussion, I hope some of you will ask me to elaborate more on this later.

During our last couple months at city hall we have had literally hundreds of people from all socio-economic backgrounds, political ideologies and ages come through our classes.

Many have told us that this is what they wish school was like.

The reason I am sending this is because our camp, which now comprises of over 400 tents and maybe twice as many people will be raided Monday morning -November 28th- at 12:01 am. We are the largest encampment left standing in the country, the one that has had the least amount of clashes with the police, and the one with the fewest instances of violence within the camp itself. I have no illusion that the L.A.P.D will take the camp once they make the decision to do so. They are one of the largest, most militarized police agencies in the country but I still believe in my heart that making a stand to protect the camp is not only possible but necessary. It is our right to peacefully assemble and petition our government to address our grievances and they have not made any attempt to do so. This about standing up for our first amendment rights.

We are peaceful, we are non-violent but we refuse to go down quietly.

I, personally have agreed to be a marked medic/ mediator during the raid.

I understand that this will place me in the direct line of danger, make me a target and also lead to my eventual arrest. This is something I strongly believe in. It is time for all of us to put aside our bullshit and make the government accountable for the corruption that corporate influence has caused.

I am not asking any of you to hold the line and protect the perimeter, I am not asking any of to volunteer to be medics or mediators (even though that would be dope and I'd love you forever).

What I am asking for is your support; which can be done from home if you can't be on site by doing things such as:
-calling the mayor and telling him not to evict us.
-calling the L.A.P.D and telling them not to tear gas us.
-telling everyone you know about tonight
-post anything related to Occupy L.A or Occupy Wall Street on your facebook and twitter
-inform people about the events for today
-BAIL FUNDS!!! Contact Karo (***) ***- ****

If you are down to leave your home and can make it down to site for a while but are not willing to be arrested you can:

-be a legal observer
-take pictures/ video of anything and everything
-come to the events taking place tonight
-join one of the actions being planned.
- bring supplies!
*water bottles with squirt tops
*apple cider vinegar
*maalox (plain! no mint or flavor)
*big buckets
*saline solution
*any and all med supplies
-BAIL FUNDS!!! Contact Karo (***) ***- ****

If you are willing/able to come and help us protect the camp; the raid committee will have various plans put into effect. We will have a variety of things you can plug yourself into. For safety reasons please have as much as your skin covered, have goggles, have shoes you can run in, do not have weapons or anything that can be counted as such.

This is a big deal- We were on the news in South Carolina. South Central Farmers have given their official statement of solidarity. Good jobs L.A will be sending a contingent down to support. ANSWER is planning a mass action to support as well.

Today, Philadelphia and Long Beach will be raided as well. Tomorrow, it might be your bank account, your pension, your access to healthy food, or your child's education and health care. Please do anything you can and join us to take a stand.

With much love, respect and solidarity,
Your friend, co-worker and sister in the struggle

P.S: please feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone


Messages of solidarity:

Our response to city bribes:


After I sent this out I got many kind messages of support from all types of friends. I even had one of my former college professors send a few encouraging words. Many more sent me messages that they had made calls to city officials and joked about how funny it was that the people fielding calls showed obvious signs of being overwhelmed/ frustrated by all the calls of support for the occupiers. Another friend brought us a tasty dinner and another brought some supplies. One friend, that I honestly did not know that well, came down during fake raid and took the role of journalist. A couple others came to the block party and many others posted news.

Two came down and joined the medical crew.

One of them a sister I had met running a youth program in Long Beach that ended up getting arrested when the police flipped a perimeter and corralled supporters outside the dispersal area. Having her there and seeing her chant through the halls of the Van Nuys jail we were transferred to (despite her original plan of not getting arrested) definitely made the physical injuries of my arrest much more bearable.

Another was a brother I had known since high school that joined me to link arms with about 100 others in the South Plaza of Solidarity park to take our final stand.

A couple other friends aided the legal committee in tracking me through the jail system that I came very close to being lost in.

I also sent this letter to my dad who ended up posting my bail, picking me up at Van Nuys, taking me to dinner and then being supportive enough to drop me off at the metro police station to aid the legal committee and wait for the release of my partner and other close comrades.

I am so privileged to have so many kind hearted, hard working people that care about me.