The Orderly Raid: Some Initial Thoughts
Multiple initial accounts can be found here.
Much of the Occupy L.A. campsite was in shambles early Wednesday morning, with tents uprooted and strewn all over.
Most of the crowd either left or was arrested at about 2:10 a.m., but about three dozen occupiers remained on City Hall's south lawn, seated on the ground with their arms locked together in a giant circle.
Los Angeles Police Department officers pulled out the remaining occupiers one by one by their legs and arms, putting them into plastic handcuffs. Nearly all of the protesters went limp and had to be carried out.
The scene is a far cry from other cities' actions, and certainly a world away from LAPD's behavior at a 2007 immigration rally in which clubs were swung, violent arrests made, and even journalists beaten during the disruption. LAPD has certainly learned the wisdom of restraint in actions such as these, and for that I am grateful.
But, now what?
Will the Occupy LA protesters return to the scene, try to clean up the mess and pitch new tents? Several have filed a federal law suit seeking to enjoin the city from removing the camp after nearly two months of allowing, even welcoming, the protests. It will be a while before even a preliminary injunction issues, if one does. In the mean time, I suspect that the campers will return, or at least try to. And the clearing of the grounds will be a nightly exercise.
If they do return, will there be a further groundswell of support, with more digging in for the long haul? Can the protesters increase their numbers, even in the face of more arrests with the potential of the LAPD reverting to the use of violence? I certainly hope so.
This may be the time that the movement expands its tool box. That federal suit, while potentially a loser, does indicate that at least some of the protesters are willing to use other nonviolent avenues to press their case. The trick will be to avoid getting trapped in the very system which has proven to be so utterly corrupt, to avoid being co-opted by the suits urging them to enter the arena and to work from the inside. We've seen how well that works for the 99%.
This is going to be a very interesting several weeks and months. It's also going to be a very important one.