Occupy LA Campers' Old City Hall Park Reopens Without Them
As City Hall's lawn reopens to the public today for the first time since the Occupy LA encampment was uprooted in a November raid by the LAPD, organizers said they'll return for their regular "general assembly" meetings that were shut out of the property's south steps after the eviction.
Occupy LA tweeted that members would meet at 7:30 p.m. last night to discuss their plan to "move GA to south steps."
There has been some talk of a renewed reoccupation of the City Hall park, too, but ...
... so far it's just talk.
It's been seven and a half months since the raid that shut down pretty much the last big Occupy encampment in the United States, effectively ending the "99 percent" movement's domination of political discourse just as the election year was dawning.
Interestingly, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who professed support for Occupy yet who also green-lighted the LAPD's weeding of the group's crusty tents, went on to become the chair of the Democratic National Convention, where President Obama will automatically be crowned the man of the blue party.
The lawn is under the same no-camping rules that govern other city parks, but they weren't really enforced for Occupy until the raid. After campers were cleared out, the lawn was fenced off (until today).
The city originally stated that the cost of refurbishing the lawn, after two months of anti-bank, anti-corporate "occupation," would cost more than $1.5 million as a result of dead grass and a trashed sprinkler system.
But the true cost of basic restoration was later put at $76,000. The city, however, chose a snazzier redux that was said to cost $390,000.
Villaraigosa will preside over the reopening of the circa-1928 park today. It features 71 types of native, low-water plants.
And no tents.
[Update at 12:51 p.m.]: The park was reopened today with the help of Mayor Villaraigosa. The fence that was erected around it to keep Occupy from reestablishing an encampment there, however, will remain for several weeks "to ensure a smooth transition," he said.
Despite the L.A. City Council formally choosing a $390,000 renovation option, City News Service says the cost was closer to $1 million.
Eh. What's a few hundred thou here and there when you have a new lawn free of citizens? Reminds us a little of this Mike Davis book about L.A.'s police-state architecture, Ecology of Fear.