On October 9, 2011, I used the Occupy Together meetup site to locate some outlying Occupy rallies in the Los Angeles area. I found out that Occupy Long Beach was holding an event at 3 pm that day, very close to where I was staying in San Pedro. I drove toward Bluff Park in Long Beach, taking an unplanned detour because of the Long Beach Marathon, and arrived around 3:30. By that time, the event was in the “open mic” phase, and the following videos, except where annotated, are completely extemporaneous speech by the participants (of which there appeared to be about 100, but you can judge for yourself from the panoramic shot of the crowd below).
In order to put these videos into context, please read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, appended below in its entirety (and read, nearly accurately, by Occupy Long Beach, following the text):
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.
The videos are presented in the order in which I recorded them, except where noted.
This first speaker suggests that the “99%” make a list of the “1%” and extract confessions from them then have them atone for their misdeeds.
This speaker is a veteran of “activism”. She also admits that her children are apathetic. She suggests that others talk to their children to get them involved, not seeming to understand that if someone as “passionate” as she is has apathetic children that her logic might be faulty.
One of the Occupy Long Beach organizers explains that the movement won’t fall apart because it is a broad movement of the political left.
A member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) speaks to the crowd. IWW has officially endorsed the Occupy movement. He discusses the fact that privately owned grocery stores have pushed co-ops out of the market.
This protester plugs his local band, then reads a prepared statement speaking out against campaign financing, lobbyists, monopolies that are “too big to fail”, the military, and the oil industry.
This protester claims the movement is “not a contest between red and blue” and says “we don’t have a democracy so much as a corporatocracy”. She also says that since it is not a hostage negotiation, it is not necessary to have demands, other than to have “a government by the people, for the people.”
This speaker, an economics professor at Woodbury University in Burbank, recommends moving money from big banks to credit unions and local banks. He also claims that campaign finance reform will never happen. He is a self-proclaimed member of the Green Party.
This is only a partial recording of a protester who was discussing energy as a unifying theme around which to rally. It is unfortunate because the first part of his speech centered around the fact that cold fusion was a feasible form of alternative energy that had been suppressed by “big oil” (as other revolutionary ideas had been).
Another protester who recommends moving your money out of big banks. I can’t vouch for his numbers, and I apologize in advance for the f*** bomb.
This speaker picks up on the earlier theme of energy. He has worked in alternative energy (solar and biofuels) and discusses “living within the means of the Earth”. Appended to the end of his open mic session is a one-on-one interview, in which he discusses how certain technologies (his example is Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower) have been suppressed because they were less profitable than the status quo.
This protester says the capitalist system has cancer and can no longer function, and it is time to move on to something new.
This protester doesn’t have much to say about anything, except that he used to be (?) a loser, brings his toddler to protests, and has an internet radio show.
Sharon, one of the leaders (facilitators?) of Occupy Long Beach, explains why it’s important that they NOT enumerate any demands. Apparently listing demands “gives the power to THEM”. However, she does say they want “environmental sustainability” and “social justice”.
Marshall Blesofsky of the Long Beach Recruitment Awareness Project (LB RAP) discusses his work in schools to counter military recruitment both during the open mic session and during a one-on-one interview.
The Occupy Long Beach Statement of Purpose:
A final note from one of the Occupy Long Beach organizers.
It is important to note that while the open mic sessions may seem like a stream of disconnected rants, if you listen closely, you can tie each of them back to the themes addressed in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. It is even more important to note that, while many, or at least some, of the speakers may seem to support the broader “cause” while speaking for a minute or two during open mic, when questioned at length it becomes evident that most have individual agendas that they have been pursuing long before #OWS and Occupy Together came along. The Occupy movement has simply provided them a pulpit from which to preach the gospel they’ve been writing for years, or even decades.