Los Angeles-area teachers this week were among the groups to publicly endorse the “Occupy LA” protesters who have been camped out at Los Angeles City Hall all month.
Immigration rights activists have also joined the growing ranks of the Occupy LA protest movement.
Protesters held a march and rally last Saturday in solidarity with a global protest that included numerous cities from across the U.S. and throughout the world. For the most part, protesters expressed anger at the poor state of the economy and the inability of elected officials to turn things around.
However, unlike the most recent protests in the Los Angeles area where the vast majority of demonstrators were Latinos calling for immigration reform, this latest protest movement is diverse in its makeup. Whites, Asians, Latinos, Blacks, Middle Easterners, young and old, college graduates, executive types and laborers are among the group’s ranks. Protesters say they are angry about the lack of jobs, their dwindling savings, home foreclosures, higher cost of living, shrinking paychecks and the higher cost of education.
They carried signs vilifying Wall Street financial institutions, corporations and elected officials for creating the financial meltdown that has led to where we are today. While the protest was somewhat organic, allowing for a variety of issues to be included, most protesters complained about corporate greed and the growing income disparity, which they say has led to “the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer.”
Violence and civil disobedience marked some protests in other parts of the country and internationally, but the Oct. 15 protest in Los Angeles was a peaceful event, where people from all walks of life displayed their home-made posters and posed for pictures by media and protestors alike.
32-year-old Erick Gurreola, a resident of Boyle Heights, was one of the protestors who reeked of legitimacy and determination—showers were not available to over-night campers until recently.
“A lot of people are here for a lot of different reasons,” Gurreola said, noting that he is protesting social inequality and economic disparity because “not everyone is equal as we are meant to believe.”
“Some people have more power than others and they get treated differently and we are not all equal. Some people are suffering more than others. There’s no food, no jobs…” he explained.
Gurreola hopes the protest will help bring about changes for future generations. His two younger brothers, ages 19 and 23, are also spending their nights on the South Lawn outside City Hall. They have the blessing of their parents who see it as a civics lesson, Mrs. and Ms. Gurreola told EGP.
Read this story IN SPANISH: Grupos Diversos Apoyan la Ocupación de Los Ángeles 
While some visiting protesters on Saturday walked their dogs, Javier Rodriguez, a 24-year-old Cypress Park resident, kept his cat on a leash and nestled between his legs as he sat with friends.
Rodriguez has been camped out at City Hall since Oct.1, and told EGP the protesters want to send a message to the world and to corporations that greed and inequality are out of control.
“We need to reclaim that money back, take it back to our neighborhoods for basic human needs,” he said. “I do feel the oppression … I can’t afford to go to school, I live on a week-to-week paycheck… that’s no way to plan a future,” he said.
Rodriguez said the atmosphere has been consistently friendly, with drums often playing in the background. “We are just staying here and helping each other out,” he said.
Despite the feelings of camaraderie, the encampment is not a utopia. Rodriguez said participants have had to confront others who have been “out of line.”
“We go up to them and confront them about it. We deal with it ourselves so we don’t have to get the cops involved,” he said.
17-year-olds Ali, a Franklin High School student, and Sara, a student at the Sotomayor Learning Academies, were among the visiting protesters on Saturday who wanted to show their support for the overnighters and to protest the bleak future America seems to be headed toward.
“We feel like we are part of a movement, we want to see that our world is going to go in the right direction,” Sara said. “Us, as youth, we are not just going to let it go to waste, we are not just going to let it go into turmoil.”