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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year in Review: They should have left that street vendor alone!

Operation Tunisia: recruiting starts 2nd January 20112011 actually started on December 17, 2010 although none of us knew it at the time. On that provident day a fruit peddler in Tunisia decided that he was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. In the year since then, his sentiment has been echoed by millions around the globe in the greatest show of people power that we have seen in more than 40 years.

Mohamed Bouazizi, who could find no other work and took to selling fruits and vegetables, had grown tired of the police harassment. When his complaints to city hall went unanswered, he doused himself with gasoline and lit a fire that is blazing still.

Had his act of defiance happened in any earlier epoch, it most likely would have gained little notice outside of word of mouth, but we now live in an age when word of mouth spans the globe. We have the technology, even in North Africa.

So news of his defiance spread throughout Tunisia in a flash and the people rose up to demand justice from the government. Then, via WikiLeaks, the Tunisian people found out just how corrupt their government really was and started to demand an end to the 20 year rule of Ben Ali. When they did this, their struggle took a revolutionary turn.

The source of that revelation was an unlikely one. A group of hackers, computer nerds, that made it their business to make government and corporate secrets public, with the aid of another hacker inside the digital pentagon, released the US State Department Tunis Embassy cables that gave details supporting what everybody already suspected about the president-dictator. Then on the 2nd day of the new year, the hacker activist group Anonymous, led by its Tunisian members, organized international support for this uprising with #OpTunisia, mainly by spreading the word, keeping the people's lines of communications up while disrupting government PR efforts and gathering Intel.

By the middle of January, Ben Ali was getting out of Dodge and protests were breaking out in Libya and Algeria. By the end of January, Egypt was fully involved and the world knew that it would be an Arab Spring. The global activist network in support of these struggles was also rapidly developing. A dense network of websites, YouTube pages, facebooks pages, Twitter accounts and other Internet resources had to be managed. The technology progressed within the year too. Cell phone cameras and YouTube were the weapons of choice from Tunisia through Libya but by Occupy Wall St., smart phones and live streaming video were coming into their own. Twitter was everywhere. The lessons of the struggle spread rapidly. In Egypt, Anonymous responded with #OpEgypt and when Mubarak tried to cut the Internet, Google came up with Speech-to-Tweet.

Before February 2011 was half over, a second dictator, Egypt's Mubarak was forced to end his 30 year rule. More protests sprung up in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine & Syria. Things were moving very fast. #OpLibya and #OpAlgeria were actually discussed in Anonymous before #OpEgypt demanded their attention. I think most in the global activist network that grew up to support the Arab Spring thought Libya or Algeria would be next, Egypt was the big enchilada and would be much later, but things were already moving at lighting speed. I made my contribution mainly in agitprop work, writing in the DailyKos and then joining the staff of WikiLeaks Central, where my beat was Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya. Libya became my longest self-assignment and so far, the toughest dictator to crack.

In Libya, the Arab Spring finally met a dictator that had an army that would massacre its own people when ordered to, something the armies in Tunisia and Egypt had refused to do. Because of this, the Libyan people were forced to make their revolution the old fashion way, by armed struggle. They built a true people's army, the Libyan working class - armed, and with some help from above by western interests keen to get the oil flowing again, they vanquished a brutal dictator that had savaged Libya for more than 40 years. The new government estimates that the civil war cost some 30,000 Libyan lives and, according the Democracy Now and the NY Times last week, less than a hundred of those were civilians killed by NATO. The Libyans won their liberation at the greatest cost of any in the Arab Spring, but they also won the most thoroughgoing revolution of them all, the only one in which the old army and all institutions of the old regime have been abolished.

With Qaddafi leading the charge, the response of regimes in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria veered toward the use of live fire and military power on peaceful protests. Rivers of the people's blood watered the Earth in 2011 as a result, but nowhere did the people back down or let up. More than 5,000 protesters have been murdered by the monster Assad in Syria this year and still they keep coming. 70,000 protested in Homs Tuesday and 40 more were killed.

As the year progressed, the struggle exampled by the people of North Africa began to be taken up all over the world. When they went to the streets in Belgium, they spoke of Tahrir Square. In Greece and Spain, massive numbers took to the streets to protest austerity measures. In Chile, and London students went on strike. In Bolivia, they took the protest on the road. I even saw a Guy Fawkes mask in a Moscow demonstration this week.

Twitter became the communications tool of choice for activists all over the planet. Facebook played an important role too, but so did chat, piratepad and other less well known means of digital collaboration. For a while an innocuous Egyptian dating site was a place beneath the radar where a lot of revolutionary "hook-ups" took place. Google brushed up their Arabic translation capabilities a little more than a year ago as in anticipation, and again in Libya they provided that important Speech-to-Tweet service when Qaddafi tried to cut the cord.

During the long Libyan struggle this global support network of information activists began discussions and planning to bring the Arab Spring home. WikiLeaks Central initiated the US Days or Rage campaign in March. Anonymous also started making plans, AdBusters started a campaign and the Occupy Wall Street movement was born out of this network just as the Libyan struggle was being brought to a successful conclusion, Occupy Los Angeles started on October 1st, and together with hundreds of similar occupations all over the planet, Occupy Venice started soon afterwards. The Arab Spring had come home.
Occupy Los Angeles, Day 8
Tasks of the Coming Year


Abraham Lincoln once called the United States the "Last Best Hope of Earth." He was wrong. He was exaggerating. While ending slavery was important and even preserving the union had some progressive value, it was still too early to speak of last chances. The Earth was still a little too young then but things have change greatly in the 150 years since he made his claim and 2011 has shown us something else, it has shown us how desperate the plight of the planet now is.

From Japan we learned what a disaster nuclear power is, all across the planet thousands lost their lives and livelihood as global warming flooded some areas while drying up others. Imperialist wars expanded in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the so-called advance countries, millions of people went unemployed and homeless while the bankers fiddled and the world economy burned. It is no longer a question of hyperbole to speak of last chances for the planet because we are all staring into the abyss.

But in 2011 we also saw this revolutionary spirit, which really is the "Last Best Hope of Earth" come clear around the globe and into our backyards. Let us all work to make 2012 a year of even greater triumph for the people's movement, 2011 was only the beginning. This planet can only be saved if world finance capital is overthrown and the home of finance capital is still the United States. We are still in the belly of the beast. Let's make 2012 the year of the American Spring.

Happy New Years,
now get busy.

Clay

Follow clayclai on Twitter

If you are in Southern California, I hope to see you at Occupy the Rose Parade on January 1st and 2nd.


Occupy the Rose Parade

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.

The leading segment on Thursday's Democracy Now [12/22/2011] carried the headline:
NATO Forced to Admit Air Strikes Killed Dozens of Libyan Civilians, Contradicting Initial Denials
The report begin:
JUAN GONZALEZ: NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign that led to the ouster and death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. NATO made the acknowledgment after a New York Times investigation revealed at least 40 civilians, and perhaps more than 70, were killed by the bombing raids. The New York Times reports the victims include at least 29 women or children, who often had been asleep in homes when the ordnance hit. Others were killed when NATO warplanes bombed ambulance crews and civilians who were attempting to aid the wounded from earlier strikes.
The segment featured two heavy hitters from the NY Times that had just done a story on the same subject. They both repeat the point that NATO had failed to take responsibility for civilian deaths before this:
ERIC SCHMITT: Well, the principal findings, as your introduction has suggested, was that initially NATO had said, and the Secretary General of NATO had said, that throughout the seven-month air campaign, they knew of no confirmed civilian casualties on the ground as a result of NATO air strikes.
and
C.J. CHIVERS: NATO has withheld details on most of the errors and labored to portray its role in the war as all but flawless. Until this month, it insisted it had not confirmed the killing or wounding of a single civilian.
There is a problem with this retelling of history. It is wrong on the facts.

NATO had already publicly acknowledged responsibility for civilian deaths caused by an air strike in Tripoli in late June. The Guardian ran the story on Sunday 19 June 2011:
Libya: Nato admits civilian deaths in Tripoli air raid

Nato has admitted it was responsible for an air strike that killed civilians in Tripoli over the weekend.

"A military missile site was the intended target of air strikes in Tripoli last night," a statement said. "However, it appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target; there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties."

Earlier the Libyan government had said that a Nato missile had struck a house in a residential area of the Libyan capital, killing at least nine civilians, including two children.

The attack is the biggest mistake by coalition forces during the four-month campaign, at a time when Nato has been trying to increase the tempo of operations against the Libyan leader.

"Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of Operation Unified Protector. "Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident," he added.
There may have been other such reports from NATO but I remember this story because I used it in one of my diaries about Libya at the time, so Thursday the more that I heard them repeat that "NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed", the more I thought it important to correct this error before it gets repeated so often that it becomes legend.

At the NATO press briefing after the tragic June 19th attack, NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said:
Clearly, the main issue for NATO over the weekend and yesterday are the allegations of civilian casualties. Mike will provide more operational information, but it's important that we put those allegations in context of the NATO mission.

Each and every civilian death is a tragedy. On Sunday, due to a technical failure, one of our weapons did not strike the intended military target, which was a missile site. We deeply regret this tragic accident.

Speaking to the media yesterday the Secretary General personally conveyed his condolences to the families of all those who may have been involved, and I would like to do that again today.
To booster the DN claims on Thursday, Juan Gonzalez, even quotes "Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, speaking in June.":
We have carried out this operation very carefully, without confirmed civilian casualties.
But this was a quote from June, no doubt before this tragic, but admitted, accident.

And in fact, the day after the accident, the NATO Secretary General was all over the media apologizing in person, this report was typical:
Nato boss regret at loss of life in Tripoli - Channel 4 News
Monday 20 June 2011
Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells Channel 4 News he regrets the "tragic loss of life" following an off-target air strike in Tripoli, but says the mission is meeting its objectives.

Even Democracy Now reported on it at the time, making Amy's current amnesia even more remarkable:
NATO Bombs Libyan Home, Killing Nine Civilians, Including Two Babies

NATO warplanes have bombed a home in a residential section of Tripoli, killing nine civilians, including two babies. Libyan officials said another 18 people were injured. NATO admitted to carrying out the strike but blamed the bombing on a "weapons systems failure." A Libyan government spokesperson described the NATO strike as a "pathetic attempt to break the spirit of the people of Tripoli."
So, Amy, just how do you square the DN claim in June that "NATO admitted to carrying out the strike" that killed nine civilians with the current DN claim that "NATO has admitted for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign?"

The claim that the NY Times investigation finally forced NATO to admit something it has never admitted before became the headline, because if the truth be told, the finding that NATO killed as many as 70 civilians, and possibly more, is hardly the indictment of NATO they were looking for.

While every single civilian death is a tragedy and each individual story, some of which were told on the DN segment, is heart rending, 70 civilians killed by NATO means that the overall NATO effort saved civilian lives when it is considered that Qaddafi killed more than 10 times that number of unarmed civilians in a single night in Tripoli and the revolutionary Libya government put the total war dead at over 30,000.

Now I know that certain factions in the US left took the early approach to the Libyan revolution that if NATO supported it they were against it. Their singular focus in this struggle was patriotic opposition to NATO, veering on support for Qaddafi. They predicted massive civilian causalities as a result of NATO bombing. They also expected that it would lead to NATO troops in Libya and the complete domination of post-Qaddafi Libya by the western powers. None of this has happened.

Now we see attempts to remember the story in such a way that it supports the views they had all along, and while they are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own set of facts.

Orwellian re-writing of history, which is what Democracy Now engaged in on Thursday's show, must be strongly opposed whether it is done by the right or the left.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

5 of 5 essays: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

A week ago I published a series of essays to the Occupy Los Angeles list serv about our eviction from the Los Angeles city Hall Park on November 30th. They evoked a lively discussion on the list. My plan is to use this material in a larger piece designed for a more distant readership. However with the holidays fast approaching and the press of other matters, it is not clear when that piece will get done and I have been convinced that there is some value in publishing them here now in this more raw form.

Hopefully my earlier reporting here about Occupy LA as well as material from OccupyLosAngeles.org, OccupyLA.org, LosAngelesGA.net and @OccupyLA can provide enough context.

So I will publish them here as I did to the list serv, one a day for the next five days:
Monday: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
Tuesday: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
Wednesday: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
Thursday: The Demonization of Mario
Friday: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

As I heard the Occupy LA Code of Conduct being read before the local news TV cameras at the General Assembly "The community will respect the individual's right to use drugs and alcohol," I realized that the encampment at city hall would probably be shut down soon, for while the standards of allowable conduct for the community that had become the Occupy LA encampment at city hall may have been okay with drug and alcohol use in public parks, the larger community that represents 99% of Los Angeles was not. As I had said before, ours is not a military occupation, it is a non-violent occupation. We don't hold city hall park by force of arms, we hold it with our moral authority and popular support. When we lose those, we will lose the encampment.

This eviction happened because the city let us have enough rope to hang ourselves with and we greedily took it. Many occupiers knew there were serious problems with drugs, alcohol and more at the encampment. We also knew that we did not introduce these problems to downtown Los Angeles. But just as the encampment became a refuge for many in our society seeking shelter from the cold, it became a "liberated" zone for unlawful activities that in many cases, we did not even try to control.

The city and police knew what was going on too and these problems were discussed more or less openly in a number of city liaison meetings I attended. These were meetings between reps from the mayor and LAPD and self-appointed or selected occupiers that volunteered for this necessary but ultimately thankless task. There were also phone calls, a select group of numbers some commanders at LAPD had to call whenever they had a problem or a question.

I think the city liaison work developed in a non-transparent, non GA approved way, like much of our work, not because of any sinister intentions, but because of the "fly by the seat of the pants" nature in which almost everything associated with Occupy LA developed in the early days. I got involved because I received a call from Alarcon's office about Occupy LA support for responsible banking even before the occupation began.

They called me because they found my name associated with Occupy LA somewhere in the biosphere and they didn't know shit about bringing a proposal to the GA. And I guess it can be fairly argued that when I used the term "we" and asked for his help modifying the LAPD position that we couldn't camp out at city hall, I was representing Occupy LA to a city or police official in a non-transparent way without either GA approval or GA report back, and that was only the first time. I initiated other calls on behalf of Occupy LA to other city and police officials even that same day.

After the initial efforts. in which the city council support resolution was secured and the practical right to keep tents on the grass, have porta potties, and amplified sound, etc. were gained, I think the most important function these meetings and phone calls served was to give the city a way to complain. For those doing this work, it was mostly about taking the heat and putting out the fires. We were trying to maintain a relationship with the city govt because that was the only basis upon which the occupation of city hall park was viable now. In my experience, relationships work better if you feel you have someone to talk to and the other party is actually listening. Even if little or no real progress is being made with regards to your "issues", you're likely to continue the relationship as long as you feel they are being "addressed." The quickest way to end the relationship is to suddenly cut lines of communications.

And I must now admit that I did often consciously miss-represent Occupy LA to city and police officials. I think others did too but they have to speak for themselves. For example, when the above mentioned problems would come up, as they often did. I would always seek to minimize them, put them even below levels that I knew to be true. I would say that we were as concerned about drug and alcohol abuse as they were, blah, blah, blah. I would play up our efforts to address these problems and consciously under-represent views at Occupy LA that were okay with drug and alcohol use in the park.

I think I was a good candidate for city liaison because on these issues I could tell these officials in earnest what they wanted to hear. I could do that because I always opposed drug and alcohol use at the encampment. But I also knew that the GA had a resolution that condoned it. Why I wasn't there to hard block that is another question, apparently consensus is only 100% if everyone can be there for every decision, but that is besides the point. I miss-presented Occupy LA, I told then that we were doing more to address these problems than we were doing, when in fact I knew that many at Occupy LA didn't see open drug and alcohol use in the city park as a problem at all. I did this both because I really did think we shouldn't allow drug and alcohol use in the encampment and because I knew that the position embodied in that code of conduct was incompatible with the city's continued support for the encampment in the city hall park.

As I saw it, that was the main job of city liaison, to give them somebody to bitch and complain to, and to give them some private channels to do that in and us some idea about what was on their mind. Yes, much of this was on the qt, very 'hush-hush', non-transparent, not for public consumption or broadcast. Anyone who has ever been involved in talks of this kind, like talks with an enemy to end a war or maintain a peace, knows that transparency is not so much a friend of that mission as confidentiality is.

Also I would have to say that as a whole the city liaison team did not fairly represent Occupy LA in that it represented only those that believed in working with the police and the city, that thought we should ask for permission before we acted without it, thought city government had a legitimate role in coordinating and regulating the use of public resources, and wanted a climate of peace with the city and the LAPD so that we could focus on the fight against Wall St. Until that very last city liaison meeting, after which we were evicted, it did not represent those occupiers that opposed any discussions with the city, opposed any request for permits or thought from the very beginning that the main issue was stopping police brutality at Occupy LA.

But in spite of those weaknesses, or perhaps, because of them, the city liaison team seemed to be doing an excellent job, at least from the point of view of someone who wanted to see the encampment at city hall continue through the winter and play the vital role that it could have played for the whole Occupy Wall St. movement in this period. While the City wanted us off the lawn of city hall sooner or later, for a whole variety of reasons, before this "transparency" row, they were offering us buildings and farm land and floating January 31st as an agreeable end date for the last of the encampment.

The city liaison team was not agreeing, we were extending the talks, and with them the occupation. As far as I'm concerned, what we were doing was still working, as it had for seven weeks. If instead, you want the LAPD to come down to the GA and publicly air their issues with Occupy LA while the cameras are rolling, you will get what we got.

IN SUMMATION

The encampment at Los Angeles City Hall that started on October 1st and ended with our eviction on November 30th was a tremendously important groundbreaking for Occupy Los Angeles. For two months we held the ground at city hall. From the beginning it was very diverse in it's representation of all the various black, white, Latino, Asian and indigenous peoples of Los Angeles. We got a lot of support from community groups and labor. With over 400 tents and 500 overnight occupiers staying on city hall lawn, and many more 'day trippers' like myself, we build what was probably the largest encampment in the United States, and with creations like the People's Collective University, the Print Shop, the Bike Repair Shop & community bike pool, the Kids Center, not to mention the welcome tent, the media tent, security, medical and of course the food tent, probably one of the ones most sophisticated in it's organization.

With the encampment at city hall as our base camp we were able to host numerous events that drew thousands, the LAPD reported 15 thousand for the march on October 15th, and carry forward a constant stream of protests against the banks and other seats of power in downtown LA. We were able to make our voice heard inside city hall too, as it proved convenient for occupiers to attend city council and committee meetings in city hall and weigh in on "business as usual" as never before.

I could go on and on about the accomplishments of Occupy Los Angeles to date because they are not easy to minimize, but quite obviously, that is not the point of these essays. Besides there are many writers who will uncritically sing the praises of the movement. My intention here is to shine a bright light on our problems so that we can correct them and move forward. I will continue to say nobody can defeat this movement if we don't defeat ourselves. Strength comes from within, but so does weakness. Nothing lasts forever and while the encampment at city hall had to end sooner or later, it could have ended later and on much more favorable terms. I hope I have shown that the conditions that led to the eviction of Occupy LA from the city hall park in this instant were internal to the movement and, as such, things that we should have been able to control directly. I hope that some lessons can be learned.

As to the future, I think the eviction has actually had a liberating effect on Occupy Los Angeles. After two months, the sheer logistics of maintaining the camp, even without all the internal camp problems that were cropping up, was draining the energy of far too many activists. Now we are free to organize wide ranging campaigns all over Los Angeles.

The General Assembly continues to meet on the west steps of city hall nightly @ 7:30p.
Yesterday, there was a bold action to shutdown the westcoast ports.
On December 15th we will Occupy I.C.E. to stop deportations and raids.
Occupy Los Angeles is just beginning. Occupy 2.0 is now being launched.

Expect Us!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

4 of 5 essays on the eviction: The Demonization of Mario

It doesn't matter that much who negotiates what, as long as they're not authorized to make any decisions. Whatever they come up with would have to be presented to and voted on by the GA.
- comment in DailyKos by Pilkington on Tue Nov 22, 2011 about "transparency" question at Occupy LA

If we take a look at the Statement from DeColonize LA, published on the website UnPermittedLA, and we cut away the wood, as I have done below, It is clear that the concept of Occupy Los Angeles as a movement with its focus on the fight against Wall St. has been under siege from day one by an organized faction that has sought to shift its focus to the fight against the LAPD.

While the original leadership of Occupy Los Angeles had the strategic approach of taking the fight directly to the banks and the capitalists, and avoiding struggles with the city and the police whenever they didn't hinder our main work, these self-proclaimed radicals reasoned that the police are the hired thugs of the capitalists, so rather than avoid the thugs as much as possible in our non-violent struggle against capitalism, they seek to take the fight first and foremost to the hired thugs. Wall St. would like nothing better than for this movement to be taken in the direction these people have been taking it.

But on to the statement. In the first paragraph, this group of activists "with previous working relationships as organizers" indicate they haven't been involved with Occupy LA before October 1st, not only because they refer to that as "the first day", but because it took them a while realized that there was already some organization and some leadership in place.
Our first impression was that the “occupation” resembled a carnival and that it was disorganized. What we eventually realized, however, was that the “occupation” was, in fact, very carefully organized, but for objectives we did not anticipate.
I don't know what they anticipated based on Occupy Wall St. but from the beginning the objectives of this movement were different from what they wanted and they have sought to change it by organizing a faction for their cause.
On the first day, we convened discussion circles which dozens of people gradually joined. We called for these circles because we felt we needed to hear from each other, as attendees of the Occupation, prior to the General Assembly.
They had a problem with the people who had put together Occupy Los Angeles from the very beginning and in spite of good relations between the city and the encampment and the lack of any abuse or harassment of Occupy LA at that time by the LAPD they formed "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA" as a closed facebook group with a very public web page. When I used a screenshot of this public page in a flier, they said of me:
If this individual isn’t actively working for the police, he has definitely helped them through his actions.
However, apparently it is not a problem that their names and pictures continue to be publicly listed on their webpage months later.

They did just about everything they could to make sure the General Assembly spent a lot of time discussing what they thought the movement should be about.
During the General Assemblies on the first and second day of occupation, we witnessed fundamental breakdowns in the consensus process, resulting in undemocratic decision-making. This was complemented by deception, coercion, and fear-mongering by the leadership to get their way. We were troubled by actions of those in leadership positions and/or facilitators of various committees who sought to control the direction of the occupation through non-democratic decision-making regarding the relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. Any discussions or proposals at the GA criticizing or objecting to collaboration with the police are immediately shouted down by the leadership.
From day one, this is a faction that has been opposed to any discussions or cooperation with the city or the police, no matter how transparent, as they consider anything like that "collaboration." They opposed any talks with the police, any cooperation with the city. They opposed getting permits for events or equipment and they believed in "taking the streets" from the drivers, even when our numbers are small and no pre-planning for the traffic disruption was possible because of our lack of notice.

They considered that the original organizers of Occupy Los Angeles, that represented a decidedly different approach, collaborators and police agents, in short, the enemy. According to them, the city liaison team is acting without General Assembly approval because it was designed to be temporary:
Mario kept bleating that he'd been "elected". No one's been "elected" to anything. He knows, as well as anyone, that a city liaison was tried in the planning stages before the encampment ever happened and was meant to be temporary.
Memo
From: Councilmember Richard Alarcon
To: Hon. Carmen Trutanich, City Attorney
Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department
Tony Royster, General Manager, General Services Department
CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011
Re: Providing Occupy LA Event - Tomorrow Saturday, Oct. 1st at City Hall- with
Reasonable Accommodations to Peacefully Exercise 1st Amendment Rights
...
I'm writing to urge you to provide a reasonable accommodation to "Occupy Los Angeles" in order to both protect the City's interests and to allow this group to peacefully exercise it's First Amendment rights.
>
It will benefit neither the City nor "Occupy Los Angeles" if peaceful protesters are arrested at or near City Hall tomorrow night...It would be unwise for our City to be overly aggressive and change the story from what it is--a protest against financial institutions--into a story about the City being inhospitable to peaceful demonstrations of civil rights.
...
I recommend that "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators be allowed to sleep near City Hall tomorrow night...
CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"Ten years ago he was organizing meat packing employees in Ventura County. More recently he is a Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council member and endorsed the call of Latinos for Peace. Early on he got involved in building Occupy Los Angeles and it became the focus of his work. After the encampment began he slept there almost every night.

The demonization campaign against Mario first came to the notice of many with this posting by Nevada on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 11:57am to OccupyLosAngeles.org
Mario Brito: Union Rep.? Communist?? Occupy City Liaison???

Mario Brito: Labor Relations Rep., Community Outreach organizer for the Laborers Union, Communist Party supporter and Occupy Los Angeles City Liaison??? We must have these questions answered

Kylene W. remembers still having faith in Mario at that time in one recent posts [Dec 4, 2011 at 12:30 PM]:
I remember the first two weeks of the encampment, there was a woman named Nevada. She kept trying to warn everyone about Mario. We were so new and weren't ready to hear it.
I've also been the one who, since day one, has advocated coming down on Mario like a ton of bricks.and in the same posts reveals that she has been keeping him off the live stream:
Just so that you know we are on the same page, Craig. I blocked Mario over two weeks ago for a reason. I actually think he's quite dangerous.
Your "free speech rights" within Occupy LA can be very shaky, as I myself have learned. Craig T. responds [12/04/2011 04:29 PM] that he also opposed Mario from the very beginning:
Furthermore, I knew Mario's past experience just by looking at him, studying his mannerisms, and listening to him within the first day of the actual occupation.
And these are the people concerned about "transparency."

After the Nevada post, attacking Mario became an undercurrent in how certain people dealt with Occupy Los Angeles, whether it be on committees, in the General Assembly or on the email list. Take a look at selections from one day's traffic on the Occupy LA list serv and see the high idealogical level at which this struggle played out.

November 17th was our biggest day of action so far. It began with a march with SEIU and Good Jobs LA in which 23 protesters were arrested for an act of civil disobedience that blocked Figueroa Ave. and ended with the occupation of the Bank of America Plaza on Flower and 3rd at which 42 occupiers, including myself were arrested.

By then the campaign to demonize Mario Brito was in full swing and those involved weren't going to let the fact that so many of our people were in jail stand in the way of it, as this sampling shows. This discussion was sparked because Chief Beck had been quoted in the L.A. Daily News as saying that the occupiers will likely move. This was false information but that didn't stop some people from assuming that the real source was Mario Brito and the city liaison group. On Nov 16, 2011, at 9:00 PM, Anthony C. wrote:
If this is true it is the most nefarious betrayal of our movement I've yet read about it. REAL REVOLUTIONARIES ORGANIZE YOURSELF AGAINST THESE UNILATERAL ATTEMPTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH POLICE!
Notice how he asks is it true?, offers no proof, then assumes its true all in one breath? Early on November 17th at 12:26 AM, Kylene W. wrote:
What's the deal with that? Why do they think it's okay to go behind everyone's back like that? Who are they? So many questions! I don't like this at all.
At 1:06 AM Jon M. wrote
I think that it's the ultimate in political naivete (not to mention stupid) to assume that things are what has been claimed up to this point, including tonight, INADEQUATELY represented by those who claim they have been in contact, liason and/or negotiating with the city and the LAPD.
Later that morning, as Occupy LA and SEIU protesters were marching from Figueroa back to city hall at 10:36 AM, pj d. wrote:
We take action at Occupy LA if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. We exit City Hall if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. If someone thinks they speak for the GA without asking the GA and reporting back to the GA, then they are wasting their time and the LAPDs. Why do we bother worrying about this subject... someone speaking without GA authority is simply a person talking out of their ass and offering their own opinions. That person does not determine our future- the GA does and the LAPD knows that fact too. City Hall & LAPD play dumb to press. They know the GA is the voice of Occupy LA.
two minutes later Kylene W. was calling for members of the city liaison team to be expelled:
I still think all those that participated in talks with the LAPD and the City, claiming to represent us, should be asked to leave the movement.
Strong words. I was staring down troops with fixed bayonets on the steps of the Pentagon in 1967, which is another way of saying I've been in the movement for a hell of a long time, and Kylene thinks I should be asked to leave? At 10:52 AM, Javier R. supports expulsion and wants the call for expulsions to be published tomorrow as part of a more general response to Chief Beck:
At this moment the expulsion of the individuals is secondary, the imperative public media response to Beck is primary. Please don't get sidetracked, and you could include this highly strong sentiment of expulsion of the back door negotiators on the statement/letter which if submitted now, even as an individual OLA member, will be published tomorrow.
While these people were griping online, others were out in the streets protesting the banks and Wall St., many through acts of civil disobedience. Mario Brito was with us on the Bank of America Plaza, helping to co-ordinate the protest. He got his shoulder knocked out of joint by a cop. That evening he was at the jail, trying to get me and others out. At 10:42 PM, he posted this to the list:
We are in the process of bailing people out. We need help.
Meanwhile, others were still busy sending their hate mail. Ten minutes later Stephen A. responded:
Snitch and fake-tivist. All the bailouts in the world will not clean your soul.
And Ruth F. added:
Let's do a prisoner swap. One Mario brito for 42 occupiers.
Which caused Heidi S. to write:
Dear friends,
While we are in the midst of actions and trying to work together can we please refrain from personal attacks, vitriol, and name-calling? How are you moving the movement forward with that language? Let's focus on our comrades in jail, please, and how best to support them.
Leslie R. asked some important questions:
What do you need? Can you be specific? How many people? Cash/credit cards, transportation, phone calls, bail bondsmen, coffee?
And Mario responded:
We have about 30 people $100 each for bail.
At 10:55 Bethania P.M. also complained about the vitriol on the list:
Hey, can we let these people get bailed out? If I had chosen to get arrested tonight I wouldn't want to be spending the night and coming days in jail. Let's keep this focused on getting our friends home.
To which Stephen A. responded:
Sorry not snitch. Collaborator.
Which cause Butt R. to write at 11:02 PM:
This list is filled with children
Then 8 minutes later she added:
And if you don't care about bailing people out if Mario is associated with, then go to where they are held, find out what needs to happen, then organize it yourself. Unless you have to wait until the next GA Friday night before doing anything.
Which prompted Anthony C. to chime in @ 11:18 PM:
Yeah do everything yourself. Screw democracy. Screw GA.

I agree we shouldnt call names (twat, asshole, I've heard it all on this list). But snitch isn't name calling. It's sociology. It's like saying calling someone who steals a thief is name calling. Its just the truth.
Meanwhile Mario was stilled focused on getting folks out of jail. At 11:23 PM, he wrote:
We are here at the jail. And we believe we got most of the women out. we are working on getting folks out. So if you can come to the jail and bring bail. Temple and Los Angeles Ave.
Five minutes later Diana V. tried to show Anthony the error of his ways:
Anthony,
A snitch is a person who tells on someone. Mario meets with people you consider the other side but you don't know that he told on anyone. Please give the snitch thing a rest. It's important for everyone to keep our organization focused on facts not rumors.
At 11:33 PM, Laurel S. summed up the situation this way:
T
his what I do know : Mario is at the jail. None of us is and we all watched it go down.

Did you not see how MSM swept 30000 under the rug and off air? Mario is not the enemy! I am not the enemy. Cheryl is not the enemy! Anthony is not the enemy! THE 1% ARE THE ENEMY!

get it fucking straight

Is there anyway to make a PayPal or credit pymt to jail?
At 12:59 AM, Cheryl A. responded to another "where's Mario?"Mario has been up since early this morning. He went on the first protest. He went on the 2nd protest. He went to go help people in jail.

After a 19-hour day, I am going to guess that his phone is probably dead or dying and he's probably in a lot of pain because his shoulder was disconnected today during a fall after a cop pushed him. I am going to guess he's laying down now.Also from the list serv:

"consistent, sustained, secretive, exploitative, solidarity-jeopardizing behavior.""willful disregard for collectivism", Mario isn't a "member of the General Assembly", "his snake like qualities", "no comparison in level of treachery""fuck you Mario, you fetid piece of human waste"

When the hue and cry went up about "transparency""mis-representation"Associated Press as "spokeswoman for the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA", or a mid-night protest led by the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA that was very heavy in ANSWER and PSL signs [YouTube], It was about some rumored deal that Mario and the city liaison team were cooking up in secret meetings, deals that in any case would require GA approval to be implemented.

When the fraction that had wanted to make this much more about police brutality from day one, and had been opposed to Mario and much of the original leadership from day one found that the charge of a "lack of transparency" and "secret deals" with city hall had traction it became a full court press. And they pressed it to the point that the people from Occupy LA that had been talking to the city were disavowed, new people oppose to the discussions were brought in and the city was told to come to the GA if they wanted to talk to us. The effect on the mayor was to conclude that discussions with Occupy LA were futile, our group could not make decisions and stand by them, and the conclusion he drew was that with talks at an end, it was time to close the encampment.

3 of 5 essays: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?

It doesn't matter that much who negotiates what, as long as they're not authorized to make any decisions. Whatever they come up with would have to be presented to and voted on by the GA.
- comment in DailyKos by Pilkington on Tue Nov 22, 2011 about "transparency" question at Occupy LA

If we take a look at the Statement from DeColonize LA, published on the website UnPermittedLA, and we cut away the wood, as I have done below, It is clear that the concept of Occupy Los Angeles as a movement with its focus on the fight against Wall St. has been under siege from day one by an organized faction that has sought to shift its focus to the fight against the LAPD.

While the original leadership of Occupy Los Angeles had the strategic approach of taking the fight directly to the banks and the capitalists, and avoiding struggles with the city and the police whenever they didn't hinder our main work, these self-proclaimed radicals reasoned that the police are the hired thugs of the capitalists, so rather than avoid the thugs as much as possible in our non-violent struggle against capitalism, they seek to take the fight first and foremost to the hired thugs. Wall St. would like nothing better than for this movement to be taken in the direction these people have been taking it.

But on to the statement. In the first paragraph, this group of activists "with previous working relationships as organizers" indicate they haven't been involved with Occupy LA before October 1st, not only because they refer to that as "the first day", but because it took them a while realized that there was already some organization and some leadership in place.
Our first impression was that the “occupation” resembled a carnival and that it was disorganized. What we eventually realized, however, was that the “occupation” was, in fact, very carefully organized, but for objectives we did not anticipate.
I don't know what they anticipated based on Occupy Wall St. but from the beginning the objectives of this movement were different from what they wanted and they have sought to change it by organizing a faction for their cause.
On the first day, we convened discussion circles which dozens of people gradually joined. We called for these circles because we felt we needed to hear from each other, as attendees of the Occupation, prior to the General Assembly.
They had a problem with the people who had put together Occupy Los Angeles from the very beginning and in spite of good relations between the city and the encampment and the lack of any abuse or harassment of Occupy LA at that time by the LAPD they formed "End Police Brutality at Occupy LA" as a closed facebook group with a very public web page. When I used a screenshot of this public page in a flier, they said of me:
If this individual isn’t actively working for the police, he has definitely helped them through his actions.
However, apparently it is not a problem that their names and pictures continue to be publicly listed on their webpage months later.

They did just about everything they could to make sure the General Assembly spent a lot of time discussing what they thought the movement should be about.
During the General Assemblies on the first and second day of occupation, we witnessed fundamental breakdowns in the consensus process, resulting in undemocratic decision-making. This was complemented by deception, coercion, and fear-mongering by the leadership to get their way. We were troubled by actions of those in leadership positions and/or facilitators of various committees who sought to control the direction of the occupation through non-democratic decision-making regarding the relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. Any discussions or proposals at the GA criticizing or objecting to collaboration with the police are immediately shouted down by the leadership.
From day one, this is a faction that has been opposed to any discussions or cooperation with the city or the police, no matter how transparent, as they consider anything like that "collaboration." They opposed any talks with the police, any cooperation with the city. They opposed getting permits for events or equipment and they believed in "taking the streets" from the drivers, even when our numbers are small and no pre-planning for the traffic disruption was possible because of our lack of notice.

They considered that the original organizers of Occupy Los Angeles, that represented a decidedly different approach, collaborators and police agents, in short, the enemy. According to them, the city liaison team is acting without General Assembly approval because it was designed to be temporary:
Mario kept bleating that he'd been "elected". No one's been "elected" to anything. He knows, as well as anyone, that a city liaison was tried in the planning stages before the encampment ever happened and was meant to be temporary.
Memo
From: Councilmember Richard Alarcon
To: Hon. Carmen Trutanich, City Attorney
Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department
Tony Royster, General Manager, General Services Department
CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011
Re: Providing Occupy LA Event - Tomorrow Saturday, Oct. 1st at City Hall- with
Reasonable Accommodations to Peacefully Exercise 1st Amendment Rights
...
I'm writing to urge you to provide a reasonable accommodation to "Occupy Los Angeles" in order to both protect the City's interests and to allow this group to peacefully exercise it's First Amendment rights.
>
It will benefit neither the City nor "Occupy Los Angeles" if peaceful protesters are arrested at or near City Hall tomorrow night...It would be unwise for our City to be overly aggressive and change the story from what it is--a protest against financial institutions--into a story about the City being inhospitable to peaceful demonstrations of civil rights.
...
I recommend that "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators be allowed to sleep near City Hall tomorrow night...
CC: Mario Brito, "Occupy Los Angeles"Ten years ago he was organizing meat packing employees in Ventura County. More recently he is a Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council member and endorsed the call of Latinos for Peace. Early on he got involved in building Occupy Los Angeles and it became the focus of his work. After the encampment began he slept there almost every night.

The demonization campaign against Mario first came to the notice of many with this posting by Nevada on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 11:57am to OccupyLosAngeles.org
Mario Brito: Union Rep.? Communist?? Occupy City Liaison???

Mario Brito: Labor Relations Rep., Community Outreach organizer for the Laborers Union, Communist Party supporter and Occupy Los Angeles City Liaison??? We must have these questions answered

Kylene W. remembers still having faith in Mario at that time in one recent posts [Dec 4, 2011 at 12:30 PM]:
I remember the first two weeks of the encampment, there was a woman named Nevada. She kept trying to warn everyone about Mario. We were so new and weren't ready to hear it.
I've also been the one who, since day one, has advocated coming down on Mario like a ton of bricks.and in the same posts reveals that she has been keeping him off the live stream:
Just so that you know we are on the same page, Craig. I blocked Mario over two weeks ago for a reason. I actually think he's quite dangerous.
Your "free speech rights" within Occupy LA can be very shaky, as I myself have learned. Craig T. responds [12/04/2011 04:29 PM] that he also opposed Mario from the very beginning:
Furthermore, I knew Mario's past experience just by looking at him, studying his mannerisms, and listening to him within the first day of the actual occupation.
And these are the people concerned about "transparency."

After the Nevada post, attacking Mario became an undercurrent in how certain people dealt with Occupy Los Angeles, whether it be on committees, in the General Assembly or on the email list. Take a look at selections from one day's traffic on the Occupy LA list serv and see the high idealogical level at which this struggle played out.

November 17th was our biggest day of action so far. It began with a march with SEIU and Good Jobs LA in which 23 protesters were arrested for an act of civil disobedience that blocked Figueroa Ave. and ended with the occupation of the Bank of America Plaza on Flower and 3rd at which 42 occupiers, including myself were arrested.

By then the campaign to demonize Mario Brito was in full swing and those involved weren't going to let the fact that so many of our people were in jail stand in the way of it, as this sampling shows. This discussion was sparked because Chief Beck had been quoted in the L.A. Daily News as saying that the occupiers will likely move. This was false information but that didn't stop some people from assuming that the real source was Mario Brito and the city liaison group. On Nov 16, 2011, at 9:00 PM, Anthony C. wrote:
If this is true it is the most nefarious betrayal of our movement I've yet read about it. REAL REVOLUTIONARIES ORGANIZE YOURSELF AGAINST THESE UNILATERAL ATTEMPTS TO NEGOTIATE WITH POLICE!
Notice how he asks is it true?, offers no proof, then assumes its true all in one breath? Early on November 17th at 12:26 AM, Kylene W. wrote:
What's the deal with that? Why do they think it's okay to go behind everyone's back like that? Who are they? So many questions! I don't like this at all.
At 1:06 AM Jon M. wrote
I think that it's the ultimate in political naivete (not to mention stupid) to assume that things are what has been claimed up to this point, including tonight, INADEQUATELY represented by those who claim they have been in contact, liason and/or negotiating with the city and the LAPD.
Later that morning, as Occupy LA and SEIU protesters were marching from Figueroa back to city hall at 10:36 AM, pj d. wrote:
We take action at Occupy LA if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. We exit City Hall if the GA approves and not a minute sooner. If someone thinks they speak for the GA without asking the GA and reporting back to the GA, then they are wasting their time and the LAPDs. Why do we bother worrying about this subject... someone speaking without GA authority is simply a person talking out of their ass and offering their own opinions. That person does not determine our future- the GA does and the LAPD knows that fact too. City Hall & LAPD play dumb to press. They know the GA is the voice of Occupy LA.
two minutes later Kylene W. was calling for members of the city liaison team to be expelled:
I still think all those that participated in talks with the LAPD and the City, claiming to represent us, should be asked to leave the movement.
Strong words. I was staring down troops with fixed bayonets on the steps of the Pentagon in 1967, which is another way of saying I've been in the movement for a hell of a long time, and Kylene thinks I should be asked to leave? At 10:52 AM, Javier R. supports expulsion and wants the call for expulsions to be published tomorrow as part of a more general response to Chief Beck:
At this moment the expulsion of the individuals is secondary, the imperative public media response to Beck is primary. Please don't get sidetracked, and you could include this highly strong sentiment of expulsion of the back door negotiators on the statement/letter which if submitted now, even as an individual OLA member, will be published tomorrow.
While these people were griping online, others were out in the streets protesting the banks and Wall St., many through acts of civil disobedience. Mario Brito was with us on the Bank of America Plaza, helping to co-ordinate the protest. He got his shoulder knocked out of joint by a cop. That evening he was at the jail, trying to get me and others out. At 10:42 PM, he posted this to the list:
We are in the process of bailing people out. We need help.
Meanwhile, others were still busy sending their hate mail. Ten minutes later Stephen A. responded:
Snitch and fake-tivist. All the bailouts in the world will not clean your soul.
And Ruth F. added:
Let's do a prisoner swap. One Mario brito for 42 occupiers.
Which caused Heidi S. to write:
Dear friends,
While we are in the midst of actions and trying to work together can we please refrain from personal attacks, vitriol, and name-calling? How are you moving the movement forward with that language? Let's focus on our comrades in jail, please, and how best to support them.
Leslie R. asked some important questions:
What do you need? Can you be specific? How many people? Cash/credit cards, transportation, phone calls, bail bondsmen, coffee?
And Mario responded:
We have about 30 people $100 each for bail.
At 10:55 Bethania P.M. also complained about the vitriol on the list:
Hey, can we let these people get bailed out? If I had chosen to get arrested tonight I wouldn't want to be spending the night and coming days in jail. Let's keep this focused on getting our friends home.
To which Stephen A. responded:
Sorry not snitch. Collaborator.
Which cause Butt R. to write at 11:02 PM:
This list is filled with children
Then 8 minutes later she added:
And if you don't care about bailing people out if Mario is associated with, then go to where they are held, find out what needs to happen, then organize it yourself. Unless you have to wait until the next GA Friday night before doing anything.
Which prompted Anthony C. to chime in @ 11:18 PM:
Yeah do everything yourself. Screw democracy. Screw GA.

I agree we shouldnt call names (twat, asshole, I've heard it all on this list). But snitch isn't name calling. It's sociology. It's like saying calling someone who steals a thief is name calling. Its just the truth.
Meanwhile Mario was stilled focused on getting folks out of jail. At 11:23 PM, he wrote:
We are here at the jail. And we believe we got most of the women out. we are working on getting folks out. So if you can come to the jail and bring bail. Temple and Los Angeles Ave.
Five minutes later Diana V. tried to show Anthony the error of his ways:
Anthony,
A snitch is a person who tells on someone. Mario meets with people you consider the other side but you don't know that he told on anyone. Please give the snitch thing a rest. It's important for everyone to keep our organization focused on facts not rumors.
At 11:33 PM, Laurel S. summed up the situation this way:
T
his what I do know : Mario is at the jail. None of us is and we all watched it go down.

Did you not see how MSM swept 30000 under the rug and off air? Mario is not the enemy! I am not the enemy. Cheryl is not the enemy! Anthony is not the enemy! THE 1% ARE THE ENEMY!

get it fucking straight

Is there anyway to make a PayPal or credit pymt to jail?
At 12:59 AM, Cheryl A. responded to another "where's Mario?"Mario has been up since early this morning. He went on the first protest. He went on the 2nd protest. He went to go help people in jail.

After a 19-hour day, I am going to guess that his phone is probably dead or dying and he's probably in a lot of pain because his shoulder was disconnected today during a fall after a cop pushed him. I am going to guess he's laying down now.Also from the list serv:

"consistent, sustained, secretive, exploitative, solidarity-jeopardizing behavior.""willful disregard for collectivism", Mario isn't a "member of the General Assembly", "his snake like qualities", "no comparison in level of treachery""fuck you Mario, you fetid piece of human waste"

When the hue and cry went up about "transparency""mis-representation"Associated Press as "spokeswoman for the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA", or a mid-night protest led by the Committee to End Police Brutality at Occupy LA that was very heavy in ANSWER and PSL signs [YouTube], It was about some rumored deal that Mario and the city liaison team were cooking up in secret meetings, deals that in any case would require GA approval to be implemented.

When the fraction that had wanted to make this much more about police brutality from day one, and had been opposed to Mario and much of the original leadership from day one found that the charge of a "lack of transparency" and "secret deals" with city hall had traction it became a full court press. And they pressed it to the point that the people from Occupy LA that had been talking to the city were disavowed, new people oppose to the discussions were brought in and the city was told to come to the GA if they wanted to talk to us. The effect on the mayor was to conclude that discussions with Occupy LA were futile, our group could not make decisions and stand by them, and the conclusion he drew was that with talks at an end, it was time to close the encampment.

2 of 5 essays: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?

Cities have been shutting down occupation encampments all across the country. After shutting down Occupy Oakland, Mayor Quan spoke of a conference call involving 18 big city mayors to discussion the various occupations and how to deal with them. Some people believe there is a nationwide mandate to shut down all the occupations that is being driven by Department of Homeland Security or some other federal agency and Occupy LA was shut down as part of that effort. When Matt Szabo of the LA mayor's office was asked about these conference calls, he swore Los Angeles had not been involved.

Naomi Wolf has emerged has one of the leading proponents of the theory that the federal government has been behind the raid on the occupations. In her November 25th article in the Guardian, The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy, she says:
The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence.
...
US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week.
...
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened.
...
The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests.
...
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
...
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance.
...
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
For the DHS connection Wolf links to Allison Kilkenny's November 16th article Did Mayors, DHS Coordinate Occupy Attacks? which says:
In addition to conferring with their fellow mayors, it appears city leadership also received an assist from the Department of Homeland Security, according to journalist Rick Ellis at the Examiner. Ellis spoke with a Justice official, who claims each of the Occupy raid actions were coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI, and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.
Critics have pointed out that Wolf's conclusion, that the local crackdowns on Occupy movements have been ordered at a Federal level is not supported by the facts known so far. Even the Guardian, in its follow up reporting on Wolf's article, which went viral, said:
Several of these external critics alluded to the fact that Rick Ellis of the Examiner, who had reported DHS involvement in coordinating Occupy policing, had revised his story substantially. Wolf, they said, seemed to have over-relied on his initial report, ignored his subsequent qualification, and then built a larger conspiracy theory on top of that.
Probably the best critque of the article is Joshua Holland's Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Is Anything But True
The difference between local officials talking to each other — or federal law enforcement agencies advising them on what they see as “best practices” for evicting local occupations — and some unseen hand directing, incentivizing or coercing municipalities to do so when they would not otherwise be so inclined is not a minor one. It’s not a matter of semantics or a distinction without difference. As I wrote recently, “if federal authorities were ordering cities to crack down on their local occupations in a concerted effort to wipe out a movement that has spread like wildfire across the country, that would indeed be a huge, and hugely troubling story. In the United States, policing protests is a local matter, and law enforcement agencies must remain accountable for their actions to local officials. Local government’s autonomy in this regard is an important principle.”

But there has not been a single report offered by any media outlet suggesting that anyone – federal officials or police organizations – is directing or in any way exerting pressure on cities to crack down on their occupations. Instead, there have been a lot of dark ruminations that such an effort is underway – notably by Naomi Wolf in an error-filled blog-post and a somewhat bizarre column for The Guardian in which Wolf takes an enormous leap away from any known facts to suggest that Congress is ordering cities to smash the Occupy Movement in order to preserve their own economic privilege.
What we do know about national co-ordination of the occupy crackdowns is this:

1. Five major occupations were evicted in different cities in a span of less than a week. Many more have been evicted since, including Occupy LA.
2. A police membership organization called the Police Executive Research Forum, PERF, organized two conference calls between local law enforcement officials to share information on OWS groups, including, presumably, how best to evict them.
3. The US Conference of Mayors organized two conference calls between various city officials to discuss the same issues.
4. DHS vehicles were spotted near the eviction in Portland. Occupy Portland involved Federal property.

This is a long ways from showing that there has been anything like a Federally mandated crackdown on the occupy movement. AngryBlacklady summed it up:
"The bottom line is this: Irrespective of Ellis's lingering questions, Naomi Wolf assumed "violent federal coordination of crackdowns" as fact, and then spun a web of conspiratorial acts and nefarious deeds by individuals at the highest levels of the government. And based on what? NOTHING.
There has yet to be revealed anything like a shred of evidence that the eviction from city hall lawn of Occupy Los Angeles was ordered by anyone above the level of mayor. If anyone has any such evidence, I am all ears. Other than that, I won't go there. I live in a fact-based world and all the facts appear to support the conclusion that the decision to evict Occupy Los Angeles from the city hall lawn was made by the mayor.

In the next essay I will examine the motivations of Mayor Villaraigosa.

1 of 5 essays on the eviction: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?

Before the encampment at city hall was evicted, a paper on 1st amendment rights was widely circulated at a number of Occupy Los Angeles General Assemblies. Although it is unsigned, It is useful to us because it reflected the view widely held among occupiers that the right to camp out on the lawn at city hall was protected by the first amendment. It began:
From the Constitution of the United States: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United Sates shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution of laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." In other worlds, a city or state ordinance or statute cannot lawfully restrict the exercise of Constitutionally protected rights such as the right to assemble, the right to free speech, the right to religious expression, etc. Park rules cannot restrict the exercise of Constitutionally protected rights, even when such rules are posted on signs in the park.
Presumably, according to this interpretation of the law. You have the right to play KPFK, or any other radio station for that matter, as loud as you want, in the library, since telling you to turn it down or off would be a restriction of protected rights. There is nothing that can be done legally about drumming, loud music or amplified speech anywhere, and at all hours if free speech is claimed. Party all night because the neighbors can't call the cops! Even that old adage about not having the right to shout fire in a crowded theater would seem to be wrong.

This is a very child like view of what was really protected by the first amendment with regards to our occupation of city hall park and whether or not the city government has any say in it. Of course we do have a right to use public property, including city parks, for free speech activities, but so do others. Filmmakers and farmers market vendors can also claim free speech rights to use city hall park. This is no stretch for me because I am a filmmaker, all my films have been overtly political and they have in fact been sold at various farmers markets around Southern California.

If I now wanted to do a film about corruption in the mayor's office and the brutality of the LAPD, and found that I was being denied a permit to shoot at city hall because some democratic party group had put their banners all over city hall park and planned to leave them up indefinitely, that would be a scandal. If it were to be revealed that Villaraigosa let us stay on city hall park as long as he did because it held up production of a film that was going to be particularly damaging to his career and then kicked us off the week after the filmmaker ran out of funds and declared bankruptcy, that would be an even bigger scandal. I'm not trying to start another unfounded rumor here, just making a point.

This raises the very adult question of how are the conflicting uses of the park by various parties, all of whom have rights, to be regulated and who is to do the regulating? As to how it should be regulated, I won't dive into those stick details except to say that public facilities should be shared. While the whole point of regulations and permits is to guarantee one party a planned monopoly of use of a park or auditorium for a given length of time, no party should be given a monopoly of use indefinitely. As to who should do the regulating? I think it should be in the hands of local government.

Laws that certainly don't take into account the needs of the homeless, don't allow overnight camping in city parks. This is not a violation of the 1st amendment. Because of the very strong popular support for our movement in the beginning, the mayor, with the city council's blessing, overlooked those laws for a period.

Our occupation of city hall park was not an armed occupation. It was a non-violent occupation. We did not hold it by force of arms. We held it by our moral authority and our popular support. Once we allowed those to become sufficiently weakened, we lost the occupation.

In the next four essays I will discuss the details.