Downtown's "Cowboy" on Occupy L.A.: They're Narcissists No One Cares About Looking to Get On the 11 PM News
DTLA event organizer Brady Westwater isn't holding back his take on Occupy Los Angeles in the wake of the volatile turn of events at last night's monthly Downtown Art Walk that ended in injuries and arrests.
In a blog post, Westwater (who blogs under the name "LA Cowboy") puts forth his take on what the group who say they represent the 99% of Americans tried to accomplish by holding a "chalking" protest at the popular Art Walk:
The assholes known in DTLA as "Narcissists Who Can't Stand It if Their Faces Are Not On the 11 PM News" (aka Occupy LA) decided to totally shut down the single busiest intersection and the single most dangerously overcrowded sidewalk at the height of Art Walk. They did this because they knew it would cause the most damage to Art Walk and it would guarantee the most the chaos - and the best chance to get their faces on the 11 PM news.
Indeed, the chalking protest, which escalated into what some indulgently called "riots," made it on the late night local news, and had locals--particularly Downtown residents and Art Walk fans--fired up into the wee hours. Was it "mission accomplished," then for Occupy L.A.?
Westwater--who L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez once dubbed the "King of Downtown"--goes on to say that Occupy L.A. is motivated by what he sees as their own current irrelevance: "Since no one cares about them anymore - they know they have to try and hijack someone else's event to get the TV cameras back on them."
A common complaint of Angelenos and Americans frustrated with the "Occupy" movement is echoed by Westwater, who questions the choices of Occupiers to take part in actions that might potential cause physical or financial harm to the local communities they say they represent.
Occupy L.A. asserts that chalking--the practice of using chalk to leave messages and drawings on sidewalks--is their protected right, citing a court ruling that deemed the activity an expression of free speech. The Los Angeles Police Department, however, says chalking is against the law. In a televised interview, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called chalking "illegal" and a form of vandalism.
It appears the group is planning another "Chalk Walk" for Thursday August 9, and have set up a Facebook event page.
The LAPD says that it wasn't the chalking that drew their forceful response, but rather the fact that the unruly crowd, comprised of Occupiers, Art Walk attendees, and various bystanders, lobbed items like rocks and bottles at the police. Some attendees, protesters, and observers claim that it was Art Walk-goers who stirred up the crowd.
An earlier version of this story indicated Westwater was the Art Walk co-founder; Westwater is an event organizer in Downtown whose projects include walking tours and fashion events. He describes himself as "Director of Economic Development · 1997 to present" for Historic Downtown Los Angeles.
Previously: LAist Interviews Brady Westwater (2007)