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Inside Occupy Los Angeles: A Photo Essay

Posted By Ben Shapiro On November 14, 2011 @ 12:41 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 122 Comments

It was a bizarre juxtaposition.  This Monday, I found myself in downtown Los Angeles while my wife, an Israeli green card holder, took her test for citizenship.  “It is a privilege to become a citizen of this country,” she told me before heading into the immigration office.  Across the street, hundreds of American citizens protested American capitalism at the Occupy Los Angeles protests.  Their tent city stretched for blocks.  Fortunately for me, I now had a couple of hours to kill and a camera in my car.  Thus began my journey into the heart of moral and intellectual vapidity.

A member of the 53% drives past the tent-sitting members of the 47%.


The romantic walkway of OLA. Just don’t walk it at night.


Yogi Bear’s heart rate just jumped exponentially.


The self-aware portion of OLA rightly labels this “skid row.”

It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining brightly in the sky.  Nobody was starving in the streets.  Showers were widely available.

And yet at the Occupy Los Angeles protest, the look was dirty grunge, the smell Mary Jane, and the atmosphere one of pathetic desperation tinged with utopian unreality.

I began my journey at the corner of Main and Temple.  The light poles were festooned with the celebratory beauty of this spiritually uplifting movement:

Despite its boasts, 99% of Los Angelenos do not care about OLA.

So, who are these supposed 99%?  As we’ll see, they’re generally college students who took their professors’ rhetoric about “safe spaces” too seriously, and homeless people and/or losers who are looking for an excuse to live in tents out in the open, without being harassed by the police.  These are not former employees of Countrywide – or former mortgagers of Countrywide.  They are people hungry to hang out in the SoCal sunshine with the approval of the local government and the paternalistic go-ahead of the President of the United States.

As for the notion that these rallies have not been astroturfed by existing organizations … not so much.  In case you can’t read these posters, they were provided by the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.  That means that our taxpayer money is, in backdoor fashion, subsidizing the Occupy movement, since these unions all collectively bargain with the government.

The grassroots all have enormous contracts with the government.

The most obvious theme of Occupy Los Angeles is that there is no theme.  While President Obama proclaims that Occupy Wall Street is a concerted movement for social change, and while the media tries to liken it to the single-message Tea Party, the Occupy movement is really a random agglomeration of radical leftist causes meshed under the banner of anti-establishment thinking.  The signs reflected this ideological schizophrenia – as well as artistic and basic linguistic incompetence:

The LGBT movement stakes out its claim.


The composting crowd is there.


So are the class warriors, whose probable public school education gave them just enough literacy to misspell “billionaires” and beg for cash for their unclean gas generators.


What’s Yemen got to do with it?  Who knows?


Indiana Jones and the Protest of Doom.


Remember that guy looking for cash for the gas generator? He should have a little discussion with this fellow.


Don’t forget animal rights.


Hint: Take the bike repair.


Bill Clinton’s tent.


Correction: This is Bill Clinton’s tent.

Most of the tents seemed to be empty.  At least, the native life hadn’t yet made itself apparent.  Those who were sitting outside didn’t look much different from the unfortunate homeless who dot streets all over Los Angeles.  They had just relocated.  But the smell of pot told the story as I approached the local hotbeds of activity.  Most of the activity took place in larger tents, where small groups of younger people crowded together to toke up.  I heard one random man shout in drug-induced ecstasy, “You motherf——!  I love you motherf——-!”  The unity was palpable.

This would be labeled “urban renewal” by liberals.

I didn’t expect that the protest would actually be dominated by hippies – honestly, I thought it was conservative name-calling.  As it turns out, this wasn’t labeling, it was journalistic accuracy.  Many of those walking around were filthy, hair unwashed for weeks, living on the dirt ground.  If these are the seedlings for Obama’s socialistic revolution, he’s going to have to delouse first.

This is what equality looks like.


The army of the useless and the misguided.


Their parents must be so proud.


Saving the world, one spiral at a time.


Because sanitation matters.


After inventing a time machine in 1969, this man was relieved to find himself at Woodstock West.

If there is one element that united the protesters, it was their love of marijuana.  The plethora of drug use cannot be overstated.  The stench hung heavy in the air.  The signs proclaimed support for free marijuana usage.

The real agenda of the OLA movement.


Talking and toking.

It wasn’t all fun and games at OLA, however.  There was a silent undercurrent of violence to the proceedings, despite the organizers’ best attempts to stifle it.  Suggestions of cannibalizing “the rich” and “bankers” and overthrowing the U.S. government in favor of Marxist thuggery abounded.

Anarchism, brought to you by corporate sponsor Coleman tents (see the label in the corner).


Communist themes abounded throughout the grounds.


The green-red axis unites – vegetarians, anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoricians, and communists.


Playing “Where’s Che?”

A couple informed me that “my country” – I was wearing a yarmulke, so they were referring to Israel, of course  – was killing people.  When I asked what Israel had to do with the Occupy movement, they told me that the banks pay for Israeli aggression.  When I asked for evidence both that Israel was aggressive and that any of the banks in question directly fund the Israeli military, they were bewildered.  They also told me that the military budget was destroying the U.S. economy.  When I informed them that the vast majority of the U.S. budget goes to entitlement programs and other forms of domestic spending, they asked me to leave.

The most articulate fellow I interviewed was a Pacific Coast University law student named Colin. Colin had the good of the country at heart.  He was there, unsurprisingly, with the approval of his professor.  He was accompanied by a hippie-looking fellow with a beard, a tie-dyed shirt, and a knit cap.  Together, they told me that they thought there were many things wrong with the country – and that if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t worth discussing.  When I told them that I agreed that there was much wrong with the country, and asked what their agenda was, they had no direct answer.  “Do you have three hours?” Colin asked, laughing.  I told them that many had criticized the Occupy movement for lack of coherence.  That, said Colin, was its strength – they wanted a thousand flowers to bloom.  They wanted to create a “safe space for conversation.”

This was all rather vague.  I asked how they proposed to solve their problems with the country.  When they didn’t answer, I prodded, “You sit here all day in the park, and that’s supposed to solve America’s problems?”

To which Colin answered, “I’m not just sitting here all day in the park.  This is the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life.”

I didn’t doubt it.  That, I thought to myself, is the problem with the country.  We need less community organizers and more people who actually work for a living.

This about sums up the Occupy movement:

Sound and fury signifying nothing.

There are no solutions here.  There is only pointless angst and rage.  Nobody in the Occupy movement has a real plan.  They are focused instead on creating “safe spaces” and occupying – which itself is merely taking up space.  There are elements of the Occupy agenda that are not half-baked – corporatism has destroyed our economy, our government has become unaccountable to its voters, and the state now dominates the individual.  But the Occupy movement is so incoherent that they cannot even settle on a singular message.  Instead, like the adolescents they are, they rage against the machine without doing anything to fix it.

They do, however, have one very good point, summed up by this sign on Temple:

The hippie generation’s children are finally getting their chance to shine, and they’re putting those hundred-thousand-dollar educations to good use in the process.  Their parents should be proud of the spawn of decay they’ve loosed upon the United States.

At the end of the day, I went to pick up my wife.  She passed her citizenship test.  One more vote for an America worth saving.  We’ll need a lot more of them to defeat the muddled thinking of the Occupy movement and its more nefarious backers.

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