2 arrested in Los Angeles during protest against Gaza battleI was there and witnessed both arrests at Wilshire and Veteran. The first arrest, a demonstrator shinnied up a street light pole and out onto the traffic signal arm to hang a "Freedom for Gaza" banner. After he very gingerly crawled backward to the ground, the LA Police were there waiting for him. It was a dumb spot to climb because that street corner was the police staging point. The officers hustled the miscreant away amid shouts of "LET HIM GO! LET HIM GO! LET HIM GO!" The crowd turned in pursuit, but the police formed a skirmish line with drawn batons and mounted officers. The march organizers quickly turned the masses back to the street march with the slogan chant, "FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!"
By The Associated Press
Posted: 01/10/2009 08:59:03 PM PST
Authorities say two people have been arrested during a demonstration in Los Angeles against Israel's incursion in the Gaza Strip.
Los Angeles Police Officer April Harding says about 1,500 people gathered for the largely peaceful protest at the Federal Building in Westwood on Saturday afternoon.
She says two men were arrested, one for climbing a power pole and the other for "creating a disturbance."
Years ago, we had a local news anchorman, Jerry Dunphy, who started every news broadcast with "From the desert to the sea and all of Southern California." That was my thought when they were chanting. I was amused.
The marchers then proceeded up Wilshire Blvd. toward the small group of Israel supporters on the opposite sidewalk and the corner that I had seen Israeli flags when I had driven through 30 minutes before, but any hint of Israel was gone. As I drove into the LA downtown area and through the side streets to avoid the heavy traffic on the boulevards, I saw many Jews with flags and banners headed in the general direction of Wilshire Blvd. Apparently the counter-demonstration was held nearby but beyond sight of the pro-Pali demo. Too bad. It did make for a generally peaceful march, though.
About half way through the march the lead propaganda truck stopped to collect money for the besieged Gazans who were starving to death (despite the 10-17 tons of food trucked in regularly by Israel.) It was amusing that the "buckets", as they were described, were really Rubbermaid trash cans. I thought that was appropriate considering how the money was going to be used.
About that time, I got tired of following along with the protesters and took a short cut back to Wilshire where I caught up with the march leaders again. On the corner were several stretch limos parked at adjacent movie theaters. One was showing the Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino, and the other was “Paul Blart Mall Cop,” starring Kevin James. Hey, it's LA.
One note I have to make is that at the very tail end of the big Gaza parade was a troupe of Aztec dancers. My only guess is that Atzlan was riding the coat tails of Hamas. Good luck with that. Again - hey, it's LA.
When we finally reached the finish point, we were back where we started at the Federal Building at Wilshire and Veteran. The crowd was just milling around, kids were running around, parents were trying to keep control of their kids running around, babies were sleeping in strollers, old folks were nodding off, and dogs were slobbering and panting in the heat. The rabble-rousers were still exhorting the worn out crowd with the old chant "FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!"
As I started to leave, some men were kneeling in prayer on the Federal Building lawn. I've personally no problem with that, but damn it, where the hell was the ACLU with their infernal Separation of Church and State shtick? I lined up a photo shot, but all the pro-flash bulb guys saw my shot and jumped in. While they photoed some old men praying, my eye was caught by a commotion at one of the many flag poles flying Old Glory.
A "youth" was climbing the flag pole. The crowd began cheering him upwards. I thought he intended to tear down the Stars and Stripes. Actually, he was tying a Palestinian flag to the pole. Meanwhile, at the foot of the pole, a large LA Police officer in blue and another in full riot regalia with teargas canisters and an M16 were loosening the rope to cause the "youth" to slide down.
As the Police removed the "youth", I crossed into another group of men lining up for prayer. I turned toward the crowd surging directly at me and the praying men. Seeing the danger that these men could be trampled by more than a hundred crazies stampeding over them, I stood to face the crowd with my arms stretched out to each side. The stampeding herd began to turn slightly and two protesters joined me. They were shouting in English, "Stop! These men are praying!" The herd was separated and passed on both sides, yet still managed to rampage over a family behind me which had paused for a meal with their children.
The mob pursued the Police with the arrested youth deep into the Federal Building property. The LAPD was then joined by Federal Homeland Security officers, themselves prepped for violence. I made my way to the head of the mob which was shouting, "LET HIM GO! LET HIM GO!" The march had indeed returned to the start.
I made my way to the left side of the mob and stood next to Officer Lott of Homeland Security. I could hear the radio traffic, "Is the crowd too far into Federal Property?" The answer came back, "Yes. Form up line across the entrance, but don't advance unless the crowd doesn't disperse in a few minutes." Then an ominous warning, "Be advised. One of our radios is missing."
"Ten-four," was the entire response.
As I observed, the crowd continued it's forward motion and the police line drew batons and the guys behind with the heavier weapons prepped their charges. But something felt like a bubble had burst. A guy on the police radio then confirmed, "Looks like the crowd is breaking up." I turned to Officer Lott and said, "Good. Looks like we all go home unharmed." He said, "Let's hope it stays that way."
Several of the organizing staff had come to the front imploring the crowd to return to the street. One of the guys who had stood with me in front of the stampede earlier was saying the arrested youth got what he deserved for climbing the flag pole. Others around him grudgingly agreed. I stopped to ask two young women in tight jeans and stiletto heels if they knew why they were chanting, Let him go. Neither had any idea what had happened , but the police were the bad guys so something bad must have happened. Boy, talk about sheep.
Shortly after that, I left the area to return to my car. The walk back took me behind the Federal Building passed the parking lot. At the sidewalk was a Homeland Security SUV with a uniform and two other men who looked like Palestinian marchers. They were, in reality, undercover officers in the march. In the SUV was the youth who climbed the flag pole.
His problem was exponentially more serious than the first arrest. The first guy who climbed the street lamp/ traffic signal had only violated city traffic safety rules. The second guy violated Federal law on Federal property. One went for LAPD booking and was probably released with hours while the other went Homeland Security with all of the power of that new department coming down on his goofball head. Sitting in the backseat of the SUV, he didn't look like he fully realized what had just happened to him for one stupid climbing act. Doofus.
When I got to my car, a man in a white SUV passed by with a large Israeli flag flying bravely. He got lots of hoots and some nasty remarks hurled at him, but that was about it. All in all it was a very well behaved bunch. They didn't break anything and many stopped into the cafes along the way for some food and drink. Starbuck's did a brisk business for about fifteen minutes as the marchers passed. But, that was Saturday. The Sunday march may have been different when Muslims, Jews, and Christians can be out on the streets without religious violation.
Another adventure and another day in paradise.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.