The Doors’ John Densmore, Rapper Wil B, Comic Jeff Ross at Occupy L.A. Rally

The Doors’ John Densmore, Rapper Wil B, Comic Jeff Ross at Occupy L.A. Rally

John Densmore at Occupy LA; October 2011. Photo by Ed Rampell

A rally emcee called Occupy Wall Street “the spark that ignited the wildfire that is taking over the world now.”  The movement launched by 16 activists in Lower Manhattan is rapidly snowballing and threatening to become an avalanche.  As the Occupy movement heats up and America heads into a presidential year, with the nation focused on politics, will 2012 become the winter of our discontent?

Occupy L.A.’s Oct. 15 “International Day of Action” was headlined by the drummer of one of rock’s most iconic bands, The Doors, John Densmore.

Densmore quoted the headline in that day’s New York Times: “In private Wall Street bankers dismiss protesters as unsophisticated.” Many in the crowd outside of Los Angeles City Hall jeered as the ’60s legend proclaimed:

Like we’re a bunch of hippies. You know what? I’m still a hippie and I am old enough to remember that we stopped the Vietnam War!

John Densmore Occupy LA October 2011. Photo by Ed Rampell

“The hippies put a monkey wrench in the military industrial complex,” declared Densmore, to the delight of the cheering multi-cultural multitude that had marched from Pershing Square in Downtown L.A. to City Hall in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and other occupation movements around the nation.

Occupy L.A. October 15, 2011.  Photo by Ed Rampell

An estimated 10,000 anti-Wall Street protesters filled L.A.’s streets as the people’s parade wound through a circuitous route through Los Angeles’ Financial District.  The marchers’ mood was militant, defiant and jubilant, as they thundered various call and response chants in unison:

“Hey hey, ho ho! Wall Street greed has got to go!”

 “Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like!”

 “Whose streets? OUR streets!”

“The people united will NEVER be defeated!”

 “Banks got bailed out, We got sold out!”

When demonstrators reached the U.S. Bank Tower and CitiCorp Building they  spontaneously chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and likewise booed when passing a branch of Bank of America, which recently incurred the wrath of clients by raising debit card fees. One wag held a sign reading “Spank of America.”

Occupy L.A. October 15, 2011.  Photo by Ed Rampell

TV talking heads may scratch their heads and ponder what this leaderless resistance movement’s gripes and goals are, but it was loud and clear to anyone who listened to what and – perhaps more tellingly – how the participants chanted that they are furious with economic injustice and inequality.

As another slogan announced: “We’re fired up and we’re not going to take it anymore!” Occupiers draw a sharp distinction between the elite’s economic royalists, or “1%”, and themselves as the “99%” of the population, which has become a sort of logo emblazoned on the ubiquitous signs and armbands.

The march was far larger than any comparable antiwar action in Los Angeles in  years.  Several longtime participants in the peace movement observed many new faces at the Occupy event.  The Occupiers’ mentality is more spirited and their numbers are exponentially growing.

Occupy LA. October 2011; photo by Ed Rampell

After the hour-long march through the Financial District, demonstrators reached their destination — City Hall — to attend rallies at the place where the Occupy L.A. sit-in began two weeks earlier and home-base for the Occupiers.  Now the sprawling campsite on the government building’s grounds has grown much denser, with hundreds of tents.

The rally’s first speaker was union organizer Maria Elena Durazo declaring the L.A. County Federation of Labor’s support for the Occupiers.

John Densmore Occupy L.A. Photo by Ed Rampell

John Densmore was the first performer, and The Doors’ drummer reminisced about his humble origins, telling a throng stretching down Spring Street:

Up until my twenties, I was clearly in the 99%.  Due to my band, I’m not in the 1%, but I’m pretty good.  But I have never forgotten that I came from the 99.  I will fight for the 99 until I die!

Jim Morrison’s bandmate proceeded to pound out a beat on bongos hanging from a strap around his neck and recite beatnik-flavored lyrics that captured the rally’s solidarity vibe.  After shouting “Onward!” Densmore disappeared offstage.

The next major speaker was Peter Joseph, a guru of Zeitgeist, which he defined as a advocacy group “working to unify the human species to get us on a path that is humane and sustainable. 

The goal:  “the removal of the entire socio-economic system itself, which is cancerous!  The 1% own 40% of the planet’s wealth!  We need a global movement to “override the system as it exists. Not merely to find a seat at the proverbial table… but to establish a completely new table.” 

Will B at Occupy LA; photo by Ed Rampell

Rapper Wil B, a fixture at L.A. lefty rallies, performed an energetic set of plus-one numbers, including a hip-hop version of Buffalo Springfield’s 60s classic For What It’s Worth, with still resonant lyrics:

“There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear,” and
“What a field-day for the heat, A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs, Mostly say, hooray for our side.
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound, Everybody look what’s going down…”

Backstage, Wil B told Rock Cellar Magazine:  

This is such a significant reminder of… Civil Rights.   I think this is the pickup of that incomplete movement.  The original Civil Rights movement laid the foundation, but these young people have picked it all up and are doing it again.  It reminds me of Martin Luther King’s dream –‘ the poor people’s party. — Will B to Rock Cellar Magazine

Comedian Ben Gleib found the economy to be no laughing matter:

 “We treat the rich who have callously ruined the lives of those less fortunate than us, better than we treat the poor and middle class.  We lock up people for petty crimes, for stealing bread to feed their family, but we don’t lockup people who have stolen millions from us.  It doesn’t make any logical sense!

There’s no sense having laws if we don’t enforce them against the biggest offenders of those laws.  We’ve been allowing a tiny 1% decide our destiny for too long! We’re the 99%, and that means we’re 99 times stronger! And guess what? We just woke up!  — Ben Gleib

Ben Gleib &Jeff Ross at Occupy LA; October 2011. Photo by Ed Rampell

Another comedian, “Roastmaster General” Jeff Ross spoke with Rock Cellar Magazine:

“I’m here because I’m an American.  I support protesting in any form.”  When asked if there should be a Friars Club Roast for the ruling class, Ross laughed: “Wow, I like that idea.”

Other acts performing at Sunday’s demonstration included the rock band Ertel,  Filipino hip-hop group Anakbayan, rock group Corn on the Cob, acoustic duet Deep Soul Fusion, poet Dylan Brody, and the Mowglies band.

To paraphrase The Doors, will the Occupiers become “riders on the storm?”

Video montage -October 15th Occupy L.A. – Posted by badams10849.  Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.