(Photo: REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson)
Hundreds of protesters at the U.S. west coast version of Occupy Wall Street camped out at Los Angeles City Hall are splitting major media’s attention because of the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor for involuntary manslaughter right around the corner.
While the gathering of college students, the unemployed, professional and semi-pro activists have shifted back and forth from the lawn of City Hall to the streets of downtown, their wrath against many social issues has rotated as well.
Last night’s local media reports included the fact that arrests were made at a Bank of America protest. However, organizers tried to distance themselves from any reports of confrontation with police by saying the group at the bank was not part of the Occupy movement. Meanwhile, most local news stations led their nightly TV broadcast with coverage of the Dr. Conrad Murray trial, in which hearings include prosecutor's trying to prove the doctor was a catalyst for Jackson's death.
In an effort to provide it’s own reporting, Occupy Wall Street Los Angeles is webcasting recorded and live video through Livestream and OccupyLosAngeles.org. Organizers state on their website that they are offering “information through independent journalists on the ground at nonviolent protests around the world.”
“The team is made of local supporters who were inspired by the movement NYC's Occupy Wall Street,” according to organizers. The group is broadcasting from “Occupy LA protests around Los Angeles that began on Sept 17, 2011 on U.S. Day Of Rage Los Angeles and resurfaced Friday, Sept. 23, 2011.”
On Friday, a ticker banner on the bottom of the screen stated, “There have been no arrests of members of Occupy Los Angeles. Those arrested yesterday were with another organization. CBS News has put out FALSE reports...trying to belittle our movement.”
During the Internet broadcast, when a woman describing herself as a press agent for Occupy L.A. was asked by someone from her group whether she approached a local news van across the street to provide information on the protest, she said, "No, I figured they were covering the Michael Jackson case so I did not bother them."
In a declared victory of sorts, a Los Angeles county woman joined the protest on Thursday after declaring that OneWest Bank and Fannie Mae stopped processing an eviction notice from her home in foreclosure on Wednesday. A separate community and union activists group staged a protest at Pasadena City Hall in support of Rose Gudiel the day before.
A politics professor at Occidental College asked in a column he wrote and published Friday, “The question facing the activists is this: Is the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon a moment of protest or a movement for sustained change? Will Rose Gudiel become the Rosa Parks of a new economic justice movement?"
Through its streaming video, social media sites, and forum chats, OWSLA has been able to get the word out about various planned activities. Posted on the group’s online calendar is the announcement of a street protest on Friday afternoon.
The protesters plan to include a “die in” at the event, pointing to the 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war.
On the L.A. group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, an Occupy administrator posted, “We've got another occupier!! J. Matthew from Twitter: ‘Today's Agenda: Sell car because I can no longer afford it. Buy new shoes for #protesting and #marching. Buy sleeping bag for @OccupyLA.’
President Obama responded to the nationwide movement when asked in a press conference on Thursday:
"I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country ... and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place.”