Occupy L.A. and LAPD Blame Each Other For Avoiding An Art Walk Riot
Last night the Art Walk went out without a hitch, which wasn't exactly what we expected given that a) last time was a disaster b) Occupy was busing in more activists from NorCal and c) LAPD started arresting protesters armed with chalk before it was even noon yesterday.
We feared the worst, but in the end the big Chalkupy protest ended up going down without any arrests or serious issues (from what we've heard). The LAPD maintained that chalking is an illegal activity, but they decided not to arrest anyone at the event last night on vandalism charges (that seemed to stick about as well as water-soluble sidewalk chalk to cement after a rainstorm).
In the video above at the 1:41 minute-mark, some protesters argue with LAPD officers about why Art Walk wasn't erupting into riots this time. An LAPD officer says that although the department considers chalking a crime, they weren't going to arrest anyone. Some protesters ask what the difference is between last month and this month. The officer throws the question back at the protesters, kind of, sort of implying that it has to do with the protesters' behavior (without actually saying it). The protesters say it's because LAPD decided not to take a heavy-handed approach and call in police with riot gear. The officer denies that and says they always do their job the same way at every Art Walk.
This answer is galling to "RR" who posted this message through the Occupy Los Angeles Facebook page:
So what was the difference between last month and last night? The absence of the 1%'s shock troops. The absence of batons and tear gas and bean-bag rounds and the dishonest "less-than-lethal" projectiles. Instead of terror and pain, a massive Art Gallery & Museum popped up in the middle of downtown. Color blanketed canvases, and blank walls were made spaces for thought and beauty. Messages of hope, love, revolution, and resistance turned Pershing Square alive with possibilities.
I'm not going to congratulate the pigs for last night's peaceful assembly. Sergeant Parker said to me, "Keep it peaceful!" as he finally left Pershing, ending the massive overtime day of him standing around doing nothing. I yelled back at him, "You don't get to say that. You can tell me to keep it peaceful after the first time we are not. Stop killing men of color every 36 hours. Stop harassing the houseless. Stop shooting and beating people at the behest of the bankers. You keep it peaceful, Mr. Police Man."
But LAPD seems to want to take a little credit for things going peacefully last night. The department just sent out this press release a few minutes ago that reads like a humble brag as much as a love letter to the public for being so well-behaved last night:
The Los Angeles Police Department would like to compliment the public on a safe, successful and peaceful Downtown Art Walk last night. Once again we demonstrated that Los Angeles is a world class City where people with diverse backgrounds and ideologies can enjoy a peaceful evening together.
On Thursday, August 9, 2012, the Los Angeles Downtown Art District hosted the Art Walk as it has for the past eight years in the downtown corridor. The public travelled from all parts of region as well as hundreds of visitors from foreign countries who strolled through the galleries, eateries and shops along the four blocks of Spring Street. For those who attended, they saw a friendly presence of Los Angeles Police Officers strolling among them and staged at intersections to ensure public safety as pedestrians and vehicles moved along from block to block along the heavily congested Art Walk.
The interaction between the public and the police was pleasant, and there seemed to be a common thread of enjoyment by all in attendance. There were numerous comments from the public that even the officers, who were clad in their blue uniforms displayed a sense of enjoyment among the throngs who gathered. Whether walking a foot-beat, riding atop horseback or perched over the seat of a bicycle, it was an evening that was interactive, public friendly and fitting of this monthly downtown event.
“The motto of the Los Angeles Police Department is “to Protect and to Serve” and last night was truly a hallmark example of just how well the men and women of this fine Department embody that motto” said Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. “The Los Angeles Police Department is a leader in protecting not only the public safety but also the rights of ALL person’s as long as those rights are expressed in a lawful manner”. Chief Paysinger added, “last night was a success because the public made the event a success. Those who participated in the Art Walk as well as those who participated in other activities
including those that occurred in Pershing Square, were able to coexist in exemplary fashion.” The six-hour event resulted in no arrests and no reportable incidents, a truly successful event in downtown Los Angeles.