Friday, December 2, 2011

lapd & the eviction of the occupyLA protesters

This last tuesday, November 29th, 2011 started out like any other.  I got up, checked e-mail, ran some errands around town, and ate some food.  All in all, a pretty un-eventful day.  4 blocks away from my apt. downtown, rumors had been circling for days about a possible raid of The OccupyLA protesters from City Hall by the LAPD.  By midnight 'un-eventful' would no longer describe the day, as it was replaced by a somewhat coordinated chaos.

I was on my way to the bar to grab a drink, when I decided to randomly check my twitter.  twitter isn't a source I often check for news, but after a quick check of my feed I saw @blogdowntown  post "Twitter is abuzz this evening with the idea that LAPD might clear the City Hall Occupy LA encampment tonight. If so, we'll be there."

A massive hoard of LAPD officers flooded the streets surrounding City Hall in Downtown LA.  Reports estimate 1,400 officers were on location to Evict the Wall St. Protesters.

I grabbed my Canon Rebel xs and prepared myself for a genuine adventure.  At 12:45am I made a peanut butter & jelly sammie, grabbed a bottle of water and hurried out to the streets.  I could hear a handful of helicopters swarming the area from my apt. and knew it might be difficult to get to the heart of the action if LAPD had already set up their blockades....  Unfortunately, I was right in thinking the blockades were already up...
Fortunately, I thrive off jumping fences, crawling behind benches and speed-tip-toeing past authorities.  This wasn't my first time playing free-runner with my camera slinged around my back, but it has certainly been the most exhilarating to date.

There were a few other citizen reporters that couldn't break the blockade, nor could they repeat my fence domination.  I felt bad, but had to keep movin' (sorry guys). Once I had slid through the lines, I had about 200 ft. of open road I had to cross.  It was the only route to the epicenter of the Eviction, the lawns of City Hall.  I straightened up, and walked with confidence.  A handful of officers passed by and I said to myself, 'you belong here, you belong here, you belong here!!!'  keeping my eyes straight ahead, the officers passed by without a 2nd glance...whew!

The sea of officers I witnessed on arrival was shocking.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Never have I seen so many uniformed police descend on a single location.  By the time I reached ground zero the tent city of the Protesters was in shambles.  Later, protesters would explain to me how they were given little warning before officers began tearing their tents down with knives.  One protester even said she and those near her were 'beaten.'  According to @blogdowntown 292 arrests were made throughout the night

Once I established my presence as part of the media, I made my way around the chaos, talked to protesters and got my photos.  The police lines looked more like military units ready to react to any problems from protesters.  It was an experience I will never forget.

Thanks for reading!

           - j

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