Demonstrations are an expression of free speech and protected under the Constitution.
Occupations represent seizure of public or private property without permission or right.
Demonstrations can go on indefinitely, and rightfully so.
But camping on property without a permit and not taking responsibility for the wear and tear it creates is not only unfair to other citizens, it is a selfish act.
The Los Angeles occupation risks losing whatever sympathy it earned from the general community the longer it drags on, causing damage to property and draining the budget of the LAPD. The message concerning certain corporate excesses is getting lost amidst the circus atmosphere. It is also being overshadowed by extremist elements mindlessly railing against capitalism.
The gathering will eventually be dispersed. Mayor Villaraigosa hinted that the encampment on the trampled lawn of City Hall cannot go on indefinitely.
If it comes down to the LAPD moving in to evict the occupiers things could get ugly, as they have in other cities.
Complicating matters is the City Council’s unanimous resolution in support of the occupation . Council President Eric Garcetti added the participants could “stay as long as they need to.” The organizers might legally challenge any attempt to break up the encampment in the absence of the City Council reversing its position. Even if that were to occur, many people may not go peacefully after weeks of coddling by our city fathers.
Maybe Garcetti is not concerned with costly damage to the lawn because Council Member Dennis Zine said he could repair it for far less than the estimated $400,000. Good – Zine should give up the race for City Controller, the responsibilities for which he is ill-prepared to handle, and become the city’s groundskeeper instead.
But this is not just about the cost of lawn repairs and police overtime, both of which will require diverting funds from other services.
It is about a movement that lost its focus and is misdirecting its energies.
People should be demonstrating (not occupying) in front the White House, Congress, the Department of Justice and the SEC. After all, the CEOs behind abusive lending were partners with our own government. No one of significance went to jail for the greed that crippled the economy.
Demonstrating in front of Rupert Murdoch’s home is not the answer. Whatever you might think of him, neither Fox nor its media competitors were responsible for the real estate bubble and lending abuses.
Why not target some of the executives who contributed to the collapse of the housing market? People like Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide, who got off with a $67 million civil settlement (Bank of America will pay all but $22 million of it), probably still enjoy the good life.
And why not turn up the heat on Los Angeles City Council members and other elected officials who are partners with giant corporations and public employee unions who are draining our pockets?