(Same version across sites; written between 2:30-3 a.m. after the march.)
Members of Occupy Los Angeles clustered in shock in front of the white tent that became an impromptu screen late Monday night, as they bore witness to the New York Police Department’s destruction of Zuccotti Park, streamed live on the internet.
There, on the other side of the country, two jangled feeds sent sometimes blurry images of the chaotic raid; the screen at times freezing on an anguished face, a crumpled tent, the gleaming edge of a riot shield. Here, on the lawn on City Hall, the harsh light from the night sun aimed down from an LAPD helicopter created stark, shifting shadows of those watching the screen.
At first, they were quiet in Los Angeles.
Then someone said the whole world is watching and someone else joined in, then more, swelling into a chant. Then another voice, sharp and strong, threw out from New York, to LA, occupy the U.S.A. and in an instant that was the one thing shouted, the one voice together.
Suddenly, the Los Angeles Occupiers were on the move. Signs and flags were grabbed, bandanas pulled up over noses, and nearly 100 set off to a riotous drumbeat to march through the fashion, bank and theater districts. Though the streets were mostly empty, the alarm still had to be raised. People had to know.
“I was just in New York,” said Miles, 25. “It’s wrong. This is wrong. They gotta realize they can’t just come in and stop a movement. They can gas anywhere, we’ll just move on to another area.”
Though loud, the march was peaceful and largely cohesive. As they approached Sixth and Spring streets, a small group splintered off from the main to head for Skid Row, while the rest continued the loop back to City Hall, with Occupiers shadowed by LAPD from above and on the ground. Twice the line of about 30 officers following the group slowed down to let more space fall between the groups, which went a long way toward reducing tension. Riot gear was deployed, but never used.
At one point some marchers wanted to sit down in an intersection, but the rest, with shouts of “solidarity,” kept the march moving.
Alifah, 35, said it was important to stand and shout in the streets that night as the founding Occupy Wall Street assembly was torn down.
“We have one purpose, that’s it,” she said. “New York has stood by us. We’re one in our hearts. We’re together.”
It ended back at City Hall with a solidarity clap, applause for the continued restraint of the LAPD and — as is our habit — a drum circle, with a bit of dancing.