Stand and Occupy LA [Nerd in Transition]
It’s 10am and I’m standing in the glare of California’s unforgiving sun. My delicate epidermis glistens as it cooks to a cancerous brown. The lamp post supporting my back displays a Metro sign informing would be riders that the 78, 79 & 378 buses all stop here. There is no bench. There is no shade. There is only the sun, the pole and the wait. At 10 a.m., I am already late for my first political protest.
I’ve spent years shaking my head at the government. In coffee shop conversations I have fought for the masses. Online, I spread news articles and amusingly honest memes. Yet never have I gathered to shake the peoples fist. As our Rome falls, and the rubble lands on the backs of the populace, I felt it was time to stand up and yell. I want to yell at the 1% riding off into a future of greater economic prosperity and the banks that continue pushing them forward. I want to scream in the face of my “for the people by the people” government that refuses to end Bush-era tax cuts and take greater measures to help level the playing field. I am desperate to bring back the middle class, because at only 33, I don’t like the prospect of a life toiling from paycheck to paycheck.
So I stand waiting for a bus to transport me from my low income neighborhood of Lincoln Heights to Los Angeles modest downtown where myself and an unknown number will gather for the beginning of Occupy L.A.. Unless you only get news from major media outlets you have probably heard of Occupy Wall Street, the protest that began in New York three weeks ago with a few hundred angry students that has now turned into a gathering of thousands including trade unions and ex-military personal. This protest has spread to other cities across the USA, with hundreds, to thousands, calling for economic change that more fairly represents the 99%.
Who are the 99% and what do we want? Well, you, you are the 99%. You are the working class, baby boomers, gen x-ers, millennials, blue collar workers, union and non-union workers, stay at home moms, creatives, military and greater population NOT earning most of the wealth in this country, yet doing all the work. The Occupation movement is here now creating a voice louder than the voting booth, demanding to be heard outside the wild rants of Tea Partiers and blatant pandering from Republicans and Democrats to corporations and large banks. What you want is up to you. I want taxes placed on the wealthy. A return to regulating and monitoring large banks and corporations. An end to the notion of too big too fail. The decade long war in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop. Less military spending and more education spending. Women’s rights to grow, not retreat to some fashion conscious 60’s retro ideal. And, frankly, I’d like to see the income tax ended.
On a Saturday morning I pack into a crowed city bus and head to Pershing Square happy to find that the march has not started. I find a place in line and pull out my clever homemade sign. On a simple piece of cardboard with just a black sharpie I wrote out the words “1%’ers Can You Spare Some ECONOMIC CHANGE?” Clever, right? I also wrapped a Carl’s Jr. cup in duct tape and wrote the words ECONOMIC CHANGE on the side thereby solidifying my beggar status. Unfortunately the cup never came out of my bag, it just didn’t feel right to walk through downtown LA, a place where the homeless wander daily, with a cup out asking for any sort of change.
We marched from Pershing Square to City Hall which is where the speeches began. It was soon evident that our numbers were far greater than the front steps which we had been given. In fact I later came to find out that 3000 people had joined the march that first day. The police asked that we move to the North lawn, which we peacefully did, then in the afternoon they again moved us, this time to the larger South lawn. As speeches were made over a horrible speaker system, I found myself growing restless in the afternoon sun. So I set out on a mission of my own.
Locating the donation booth, I quickly offered my services as a volunteer. As most large first time events go this one was pretty disorganized. The flustered young man I talked to had no idea where I could sign up, so I simply asked, what do you need from me right now? Soon, I found myself accepting and organizing donations of goods. Then later I found I was the new head of that committee. This was great, for about one day.
Though I was enjoying the act of turning my years of political awareness into political action I knew that trouble was brewing. Without a car there would be no way for me to pick up donated goods. I could try and organize online, but I would still have to return to the Occupation site daily. For this week that is an impossible trial. I have no bike and only $4 to my name until payday on Friday, so I can’t even afford bus fare beyond two rides. Plus, I was afraid of throwing myself back off my career track. I have a habit of getting heavily involved in things that are not related to beating the path of a career creative. Instead I end up taking a hobby and turning it into an obsession, I’m looking at you roller derby. The next day I came to the reasonable conclusion that I need to stay in this selfish actor mode.
My final decision is to return to the protest when I have free time and even donate goods and services. I also intend to ask for food donations from local businesses, but I am not joining a forum, board or committee. I am not camping in Downtown LA, actually I had already decided that last week, mama needs here bed. I will share Occupation updates and make more clever signs, but I have to keep focused. The momentum I gained from producing my own show cannot be slowed now, even if it is for the greater good.
I encourage you to join the fight and find out if their is an Occupation movement taking place in your city or state. They aren’t hard to find, just google it, that’s the good side of the internet. If you are in Los Angeles head to City Hall and see what you can do, or simply stand and be counted. This is our country we are the people, not the corporations.
If you liked this post, please do us the further boon of Liking the Fierce and Nerdy page on FaceBook. Also, we’re giving great stream on Twitter, so do give us follow.
featured image credit: Shutteroo