I went down to the demonstration to make a film. I liked the people there. They were very focused and happy. They were talking, explaining, arguing, educating, dancing, singing, playing, making signs, painting, photographing. Some of them made speeches at the microphone. Some read poems. There were lots of cameras.
The music and words in this film are by Tom Morello (http://nightwatchmanmusic.com), former Rage Against the Machine guitarist. He sings his own ‘Maximum Firepower’ and Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land.’
The mood at City Hall was high energy and cheerful. The underlying anger and frustration of the movement seemed to be moving through a positive channel. It was exciting but also comfortable there because of the people and their open attitudes.
The Los Angeles police headquarters is directly across the street from the protest grounds. That’s where I began shooting my film – right into the windows of police headquarters. Several squad cars drove up First Street, but there was not a single cop anywhere near the protest area. The crowd is organized and respectful, but also very serious about its messages which are various and multifaceted.
The city has taken a protective stance over its protesters. I’m very proud of Los Angeles for this.
Occupy Los Angeles is one of the spreading protests coming out of the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. Hopefully, the incredible momentum of the movement will continue and be heard very clearly across the country and the world.
The simple messages that I get from the protests are that government cannot function while it is under the control and influence of corporations. The economy cannot function properly while corporations and their extremely wealthy owners are allowed to operate without oversight and control. The country cannot pave its roads or build its schools or house its people while corporations and the wealthy play with money that is nearly tax-free, removing it entirely from the real world economy. The country cannot function as a democracy while its politicians and Supreme Court justices are working for corporations. The country cannot be free while racism and bigotry are increasingly seen as legitimate reactions to change. The country cannot be secure while corporations are given the power to run wars and people’s basic privacy rights are removed.
That’s what I see in the Occupy movement.
If every city in the U.S. could have as fine an Occupy movement as Los Angeles, they would be very lucky indeed.