Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
An interfaith group of clergy who ministered to Occupy Los Angeles protesters throughout the two-month occupation are objecting to the “overwhelming force” used by the Los Angeles Police Department when 1,400 officers cleared the encampment from City Hall Park in the early morning hours of Nov. 30.
“The mayor and police chief are patting themselves on the back because we are in Los Angeles and no one went to the hospital,” said Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, an associate professor at American Jewish University and a member of the Occupy L.A. Sanctuary, a group of Los Angeles area religious leaders who advocate for economic justice.
To convey its critique of “the mass use of overwhelming force by the LAPD,” Cohen said that the group has drafted and is in the process of signing a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressing its disapproval of what Cohen called a “military-style operation.”
“People were knocked over, pushed around, pushed with batons, chased down, corralled,” Cohen said, citing reports about police violence that were related to the interfaith group by protesters. “It was kind of a ‘shock and awe’ operation, designed to terrorize the people that were there—and it worked. In that way it worked.”
The Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy established a presence at the encampment very early on. They met at the Interfaith Sanctuary at Occupy L.A., a structure that began its life as a Sukkah, every Wednesday morning. At 10 am this Wednesday, however, with the last protesters having been evicted from the park only hours earlier and the formerly occupied lawns encircled by fences, the group of clerics held a debriefing on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
The group of clergy also objected to the protesters’ being held on $5,000 bail, which for many, Cohen said, was an impossible sum of money to come up with.
Cohen said the group would release the text of the letter once it has been signed and sent.
In addition to ministering to the occupiers with a variety of actions—including a Black Friday Interfaith Service held at the encampment the morning after Thanksgiving—the Sanctuary members also played a role in facilitating meetings between the Mayor’s office the leaders of Occupy L.A. in the days and weeks before the massive raid on the encampment.
When Villaraigosa announced on Nov. 23 that the encampment would be removed on Nov. 28 at 12:01 am, the interfaith group drafted a letter to Mayor Villaraigosa asking for additional time—“weeks not days”—to allow the Occupy L.A. group to transition out of City Hall park in a peaceful manner. That earlier letter, the text of which was posted on the Occupy L.A. Sanctuary blog on Friday, Nov. 25, was signed by 179 clergy members, and it got the Mayor’s attention.
On Monday morning, Nov. 28, hours after the initial deadline to vacate was allowed to pass, a group of 14 clergy and laypeople that called itself “the interfaith affinity group of Occupy LA supporting the occupation” met with Mayor Villaraigosa to make the case for calling off or delaying the removal of the encampment.
The mayor, however, did not budge. “Mayor Villaraigosa seemed very receptive to the ideas of the Occupy Movement, even as he said the encampment needed to end, that that had become no longer sustainable,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater of the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center, who was present at the Monday morning meeting.
Additionally, Cohen said that an agreement had been reached with the incident commander on the scene on Tuesday night, in advance of the LAPD raid on the Occupy L.A. encampment, to allow clergy members to witness the arrests of any protesters—a deal that, he said, was subsequently broken.
“They were not allowed in for period of time while the officers swarmed into the park,” Cohen said of his fellow faith leaders, “during a time when they could have supported the protesters with their decision of whether or not to be arrested.”
The clergy, of course, weren’t the only ones barred from observing the arrests of protesters. Most of the reporters covering the end of Occupy L.A., including two staff writers for the Jewish Journal, were kicked out of City Hall Park before anyone was arrested. Only a handful of media authorized by LAPD were permitted to remain.
For his part, Cohen didn’t make it anywhere near the Occupy L.A. encampment in advance of the LAPD officers storming into the park early Wednesday morning, and neither did Levine-Grater. Both were stopped in different spots by LAPD officers who had established a blocks-wide cordon around City Hall in an effort to keep the numbers of protesters in the encampment on the lawns of City Hall from swelling.
After being turned back, Cohen headed home (and kept track of developments from there), but Levine-Grater hung out on the spot where the LAPD line stopped his progress, at the corner of Main and Aliso Streets. More and more people kept arriving, until the crowd numbered about 150 people, Levine-Grater said.
When a few large buses filled with police officers approached the intersection where the group of would-be Occupy L.A. protesters was massed, Levine-Grater said, “they [the protesters] decided to sit down in front of the buses in the intersection and started singing. They were not going to let those buses go through.”
“The police exited the buses and were standing there,” Levine-Grater continued. “It was about a 20 minute face-off, and in the end the buses backed up and found another way around. A lot of police officers walked.”
Even at those moments, when the potential for a conflict was most palpable, Levine-Grater said that the group of protesters held fast to Occupy L.A.’s commitment to keep their protest activities non-violent.
“A lot of them were chanting, ‘Police need a raise; police need a raise,’” Levine-Grater said. “There was not much animosity.”
Although the faith leaders had failed to convince the mayor to give Occupy L.A. more time to work things out using its democratic process, the advance notice given was sufficient to ensure that the Sanctuary structure itself—a sukkah that belongs to Jonathan Klein of CLUE-LA—could be retrieved before the police took apart the camp.
“Jonathan has it,” Levine-Grater said. “He took it down.”
5.22.13 at 9:09 am | Eric Garcetti became the first elected Jewish. . .
5.22.13 at 8:16 am | UPDATE 8:00 am: Eric Garcetti wins the mayoral. . .
5.21.13 at 11:06 am | Using his preternatural smoothness, Justin. . .
5.20.13 at 11:40 am | Proving once again that there isn’t anything he. . .
5.14.13 at 9:59 am | This week on his podcast, Jewish comedian Marc. . .
4.30.13 at 10:58 am | Michael Diamond (Mike D.) and Adam Horovitz. . .
4.24.13 at 3:15 pm | So, 17-year-old Milken Community High School. . . (1678)
4.25.13 at 4:47 pm | (525)
5.22.13 at 8:16 am | UPDATE 8:00 am: Eric Garcetti wins the mayoral. . . (427)
November 30, 2011 | 2:30 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The eradication of the Occupy Los Angeles encampment at City Hall last night by 1,400 Los Angeles Police Department officers was historic in its scope and remarkable for having been carried out without causing too many injuries to protesters—but for reporters trying to cover the event, it was, in at least one way, a typical Los Angeles experience.
I say typical because the first question was where to park, the last worry was about how long it’s going to take to get home, and in the middle, one had to wonder when the bouncers were going to clear the place. A bit like a club night, or a Dodger game, except that the parking lot attendants outnumbered the cars, and they were dressed in riot gear.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so typical. The streets around City Hall were already closed off to traffic by 10:30 pm on Tuesday evening, when my colleague Ryan Torok and I arrived downtown, but one of the police officers blocking the intersection at Temple and Broadway let us through when we showed them our press passes. We parked near a couple of news trucks on the side of the street.
Occupy L.A., and the Occupy movement in general, had, from the very start, been very decentralized events—and the final night of the occupation of City Hall Park was no different. The leaders of this leader-less encampment began hearing about the planned police raid in the early evening hours, and they put out a call on social media outlets for “reinforcements”—supporters of their cause—to come downtown and add to their presence.
But by 10:30, the LAPD’s perimeter kept any additional protesters from entering, leaving those already inside to spread out and try to find something to do. There were occasional bouts of chanting, dancing and singing in the streets. The largest groups of protesters gathered along First Street, where most of the news trucks had set up shop. Occasionally a protester would lie down in the middle of the street and people with cameras—and nearly everyone not holding a sign or a candle had a camera—would swarm around and take photographs. One guy with a gas mask and a protective neon yellow jacket seemed to really relish this attention.
Media members were out in force, many of them still—more than two months after the start of the Occupy movement—trying to make sense of what was going on. A reporter from Bloomberg was scrutinizing a few handwritten sheets of paper that had been posted on the glass walls of a bus shelter on Spring Street. One sheet had a neatly handwritten diagram of the Rockefeller family tree.
Were the protesters prepared? Sort of. Many wore bandanas around their necks, and the designated medical response team—a group of 30 people identified by red duct-tape crosses on their t-shirts—were equipped with bottles of Maalox in their backpacks, in case the police used pepper spray to clear the area.
As additional police officers massed in front of LAPD headquarters across the street from City Hall’s South Lawn, rumors swirled among the protesters about what the law enforcement’s next move would be. Protesters on bikes, one organizer said, had spotted LAPD officers massing at Dodger Stadium earlier in the evening. At around 11 pm, someone mentioned that Homeland Security troops had been spotted leaving the Federal Building.
And around 12:15, things began moving very quickly. Following a tip from a protester with a megaphone, Ryan and I watched and then followed as swarms of police with their batons drawn ran onto the South Lawn of City Hall Park, quickly demolishing the makeshift barricades that had been set up by protesters. With the barricades gone—and they were so small, and not manned by anyone from the occupiers, so it’s hard to imagine that any of the protesters expected them to hold against the LAPD force—the officers formed two lines and divided the camp.
“This is what a police state looks like,” chanted the protesters at the center of the encampment, sitting around a single symbolic tent. But to the degree that the LAPD officers were very restrained in their use of force and very calm in their clearing the area, it’s clear that this was no UC Davis, and Syria and Egypt might be better examples for police states. And while the LAPD did kick most of the reporters out of the area before making their 200 arrests last night, they were pretty polite while doing so. Most of those on the lines looked very young—cadets, perhaps?—and the cops in the white Haz-Mat suits, who got to stand aside seemed far more experienced, and at ease.
The strictly enforced and many blocks-wide cordon laid out by the LAPD around the park made it difficult to get back to our car—but eventually, the cops let us through, escorted us out—for members of the media, even the non-profit media, the police treatment was pretty good.
So…now what? Will the occupiers mass somewhere else? Will the movement end without the space that it has called home for the last two months?
Unclear. But rest assured—riot gear and media frenzy or no—we’ll be watching.
November 30, 2011 | 9:29 am
Posted by Ryan Torok
Early Monday morning, the Los Angeles Police Department officers evicted the Occupy L.A. protesters, who have been at Los Angeles City Hall since the beginning of October.
The police made an estimated 200 arrests, as reported in a story by Journal reporter Jonah Lowenfeld.
At approximately 12:15 a.m., police swarmed into the site, and demonstrators rushed around the encampment, trying to figure out where to go. Officers in riot gear formed two lines on a path that cuts into the southeast edge of the lawn at City Hall, and the officers faced protestors in both directions, ordering them to stay off the path.
Frederic Johnson, 35, wearing a hoodie and a beanie that covered his ears, yelled at police, who stood a few feet away from him. “You guys manipulated the law, this is unconstitutional actions,” he said, as he and other demonstrators believe it’s their constitutional right to be sleeping at the park.
Around 12:15 a.m., LAPD made the announcement: “I hereby declare this as an unlawful assembly.” A police truck pulled into the site and parked in the path, and a police officer announced instructions for everyone, including the media—who were out in full force—to disperse.
A few feet away from Johnson, a group of young demonstrators – possibly in their teens or early-20s —sat in a circle, signaling civil disobedience with their bodies: heads bowed, arms crossed in front—and prepared to get arrested. A police officer approached the group.
“Do you guys want to leave anytime soon?” the officer asked them gently, kneeling down next to them. All around, demonstrators chanted—chants during the night included, “The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching.” Some people yelled at the police to leave them alone and made peace signs with their hands, while helicopters circled overhead.
“If you want to leave you can,” the officer told the group.
Watch footage from this morning’s raid below:
One of the seated protestors, Guido Girgenti, 19, responded to the officer: “If you promise to join the movement ....” An Occidental College student, Girgenti said, “I’m going to sit and peacefully assemble… This is the movement that we need to give our democracy freedom from corporate money or power.”
The LAPD officer told the group that no one would hurt them, then he walked away.
At 12:30 a.m., six LAPD officers wearing white full-body chemical suits – “to protest from bodily fluids,” an officer said to me – came onto the section of the lawn where the group was sitting—the part of the lawn near 1st Street and Main Street.
Girgenti and another young demonstrator in the group of five or six had their phones in their laps, and were sending text messages to their parents about plans to get arrested.
Nearby Johnson, Meg Wade, 28, a bookseller at Skylight Books, stood and observed from in an area that the police had ordered cleared out. Wade hadn’t been camping out at Occupy, but she had been participating on a regular basis. She’d ridden her bike to the site from East Hollywood, and she was still wearing her bike helmet—and snowboard goggles on top of her helmet—when the cops stormed into the encampment.
“I brought my snowboard goggles in case they pepper spray,” Wade said. Many of the demonstrators, preparing for LAPD raids and taking cues from previous clashes between police and demonstrators at Occupy movements across the country, were wearing surgical masks and bandanas around their mouths in anticipation of the use of possible tear-gas and pepper spray.
On Nov. 25, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered that the Occupy camp be cleared out, indicating that at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, police could begin the eviction. The raid Wednesday morning was the LAPD’s second attempt to clear the Occupy L.A. camp. The first took place on Monday, Nov. 28, at around 4 a.m., when the police arrived, addressed the protesters on a loudspeaker and made just four arrests. That attempt was a largely peaceful confrontation between police and Occupiers, and police left most of the protesters in place. The clash Wednesday morning was rowdier.
November 30, 2011 | 8:08 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Occupy Los Angeles was cleared by Los Angeles Police Department officers early Wednesday morning, bringing to an end what had been the most prominent and longest-standing of the Occupy encampments still in continuous operation.
Hundreds of LAPD officers in riot gear swarmed into City Hall Park just after midnight on Nov. 30 to clear the occupiers, whose numbers had swelled, perhaps to the thousands, thanks to the arrival of many supporters and sympathizers in advance of the midnight raid on the encampment.
The park had been occupied since Oct. 1 as part of the nationwide Occupy movement, a self-proclaimed leaderless movement organized to protest income inequality and other social ills.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had warned the protesters long before the late-night raid that the they could not stay on the lawn at City Hall Park indefinitely. The city initially set a deadline of Monday, Nov. 28, 12:01 am, which came and went—but in the days leading up to the raid, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck spoke to numerous media outlets about the methodical way his officers would clear the park—though when it would take place, he never specified.
Early Wednesday morning, the city and the police made good on their promises. The raid, which resulted in an estimated 200 arrests, was conducted methodically and—despite the presence of police in riot gear toting bean-bag rifles and other weapons—without more than a handful of injuries.
At 12:15 am on Wednesday, about two hours after closing down the streets surrounding City Hall, hundreds of LAPD in riot gear streamed into the park from all sides. The officers cleared the debris that had been assembled to block the pathways through the park, and then stood, with batons at the ready, in lines along those paths, dividing the camp into sections.
“This is what a police state looks like,” chanted the protesters. In the center of City Hall’s South Lawn, a group of about 75-100 protesters surrounded a single tent that had been draped with a small American flag.
By 12:40, an LAPD vehicle equipped with a microphone began rolling into the South Lawn, announcing, in English and Spanish, that those who did not clear the area would be in violation of the law and would be subject to arrest, and could be injured in the process.
It was at that point that most of those in the park—occupiers, their supporters, volunteer medical staff, legal observers and others—who had been made by police to stand on the elevated patches of dirt where the grass in the park used to be, headed out towards the surrounding streets, which were also being cordoned off by lines of LAPD officers in riot gear.
At that same time, the park was also cleared of most of the journalists who were there to cover the event. Continued access was limited to a handful number of newspaper, TV, and radio reporters and photographers who were allowed by the LAPD to “embed” themselves with the officers clearing the encampment.
Having had ample warning that a raid was coming, the occupiers had made attempts to ready themselves for the arrival of the LAPD. In addition to the 30 volunteer medical staff—who carried Maalox in case they needed to wash pepper spray out of the eyes of protesters—and a similar number of green-hatted legal observers on hand, occupiers were posted along the perimeter of the camp with walkie-talkies in an effort to stay informed of the LAPD officers’ movements.
Many occupiers said they had received some training in non-violent resistance techniques, and most of those at the center of the movement, the ones who had been living in City Hall Park for the nearly two-month-long occupation, said they were prepared to be arrested.
“We’re prepared to, 100 percent, because it’s important that they know that we’re serious that we will not move,” protester Joshua Taylor said before the raid. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Taylor had been living at Occupy L.A. since the encampment was first established on Oct. 1, and he said he was willing to be arrested.
But he wasn’t necessarily asking to be arrested either.
“We’re going to be peaceful, so I’m hoping they’ll be peaceful,” Taylor said.
There were an estimated 150 tents at Occupy L.A. on Tuesday evening before the raid, and for the homeless who joined Occupy L.A., the decision of what to do with their tents—and in some cases, their many belongings—was one that had to be made on the fly, despite the announcement of the plans to evict the protesters having been made days earlier.
At about 10:30 pm on Tuedsay, Robert Henzler, who usually lives in a tent in Griffith Park, was packing up stacks of National Geographic magazines onto a trolley. Sean Gregory, who said he lives “on skid row, San Pedro, between fifth and sixth streets,” had just moved his tent—with everything in it—across Spring Street to the sidewalk opposite City Hall, and was helping others do the same.
“I had to sneak in to get my tent and my friends’ tents across the street,” he said. “They [the LAPD] won’t let us get through to get what we own.”
After the police raid on the park, Gregory was spotted a few blocks east on Spring Street, looking past a line of police officers in the direction of the spot where he left his tent.
Ashley Nickerson, an organizer with Good Jobs LA, was also there, trying to tell those who, like Gregory, had been living at Occupy L.A. and didn’t have anywhere to go home to, that they could spend the night at the La Placita church nearby. According to reports on Twitter, about 100 occupiers bedded down at the church on Wednesday morning.
Just before the raid, spirits among the occupiers and their supporters were high. In the streets around City Hall Park, which were closed to traffic, groups of people danced in the streets. A large group of protesters massed at the intersection of First Street and Broadway, where two lines of LAPD officers were keeping about 100 would-be protesters away from the park.
“They say go away / we say no way,” the protesters on the inside chanted, facing off with LAPD officers.
But according to reports on Twitter, by around 2:30 am on Wednesday morning, there were only a dozen or so protesters left in the park. Even the protesters who had taken refuge in the trees in front of City Hall were on their way out.
“Tree occupier has been plucked,” Dennis Romero of L.A. Weekly tweeted.
November 29, 2011 | 12:50 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who attended to Michael Jackson before the pop singer’s death, was sentenced to four years in prison and denied probation on Tuesday. Earlier this month, Murray was found guilty of one count of involuntary manslaughter of the late pop star who died in June 2009.
Murray was convicted for his use of the anesthetic propofol on Jackson, despite Murray’s argument that Jackson might have administered the lethal dose to himself. Murray treated Jackson during the months leading up to Jackson’s “This is It” concert tour.
Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009 was determined by a coroner to be caused by acute propofal intoxication.
Murray was given the maximum sentencing possible, and he will serve time in county jail.
Alon Steinberg, a cardiologist based in Ventura County, testified against Murray during the two-month Murray trial, appearing as an expert witness on October 12. Steinberg, who attends services at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue and the Chabads of Ventura County and Malibu, gave an exclusive phone interview with the Journal on November 7, the day Murray was found guilty.
“Thank God the jury did the right thing,” Steinberg said that day.
Before his appearance in court last month, David Walgren, a representative of the prosecution in the Murray trial, interviewed Steinberg personally to determine if Steinberg was qualified to give testimony in the case. He determined he was.
In addition to his professional duties, Steinberg reviews malpractice cases for the California Medical Board, an agency that licenses medical doctors. “I always [try] to be fair as possible, to protect the patient and try to protect the doctor. Doctors work very hard and sometimes there’s a lot of false accusations,” he said.
In the case of Murray, there appeared to be enough evidence to support the accusations against him, specifically that he practiced gross negligence while treating Jackson. The prosecution team in the Murray said that on the night of June 2009, when Jackson suffered respiratory arrest in his home, Murray contacted members of Jackson’s security team instead of 911, tried to clean up some of the medicine he’d been treating Jackson before authorities arrived; didn’t properly monitor Jackson’s vital signs and performed inadequate CPR, New York Times says.
Murray’s defense argued that Jackson had begged Murray for propofol. The case, thus, raised questions about how much say a patient should have in his or her own treatment.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor handed down the sentencing of Murray today.
November 29, 2011 | 1:04 am
Posted by Ryan Torok
Sarah had just gotten off of a plane after visiting her family in Thanksgiving before coming to the Occupy L.A. at Los Angeles City Hall. She sat in solidarity with dozens of demonstrators around a tent set up in the center of the camp. She held onto a surgical mask soaked in apple cider vinegar, which would help her “continue to breath if they use less-lethal weapons,” such as tear-gas, she said.
Sarah was among the Jewish people I met while spending the early hours of the morning—- from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. - at Occupy L.A. on Monday, November 28, the day LAPD was scheduled to clear the encampment out but ultimately let the protestors remain. The future is uncertain for Occupy L.A., but the Los Angeles Times reported today that the movement has filed a court order to block the eviction.
According to Reuters:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had given protesters until 12:01 a.m. local time to dismantle their tents and clear out of the park or face a forcible removal, setting the stage for the latest showdown between leaders of a major U.S. city and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
On Nov. 25, Villarigosa ordered that the Occupy protestors would need to clear out on Monday. Four activists were arrested during otherwise peaceful clashes with LAPD officials arrested four activists on Monday morning, approximately five hours after this deadline passed.
Ben Segal, 26, a student at UC San Diego, drove up to Los Angeles to take part in the demonstration on Sunday night and Monday night, “because we wanted to support the occupation here and stand in solidarity with the [movement],” Segal said, linking arms with his girlfriend, Feliz, as they formed a chain with other demonstrators encircling the four-block-radius park around City Hall.
“We tend to be pretty active historically,” Segal said of Jews getting involved with causes like Occupy L.A.
David Feldman, who identified as a non-religious Jew, joined demonstrators on 1st St. around 1 a.m. on Monday, and he pledged to remain for as a long as he could keep his eyes open.
“There are certain moments where it’s important for people to take a stand and I think this is one of those moments,” he said.
Also around 1 a.m., Tony Maldonado, a Mexican American Italian Jew and filmmaker, asked a trumpet player to play “Johnny Comes Marching Home,” an American Civil War-era song, and the musician obliged.
Before the police and demonstrators clashed on Monday morning, Maldonado said that the Occupy L.A. was growing stronger and more resilient than ever.
We’re capturing the “American spirit because people do understand what’s happening,” Maldonado said. “Maybe they can’t support us all the time, but they understand what’s happening, and they’re watching what’s happening.”
Maldonado criticized Villaraigosa for his decision to announce the camp be cleared out. “He never came out once to talk to anybody. He could’ve come out the day of Thanksgiving…yesterday, he was in the press room [at City Hall], he could’ve come out…and talked to everybody and said, ‘No matter what has happened, we need to work together on this thing. We need to work on the detail. What do you want? We’re going to work with you.’”
On Monday morning, demonstrators caused 1st St. - all that’s separating Los Angeles City Hall, where the Occupy encampment has been operating for eight weeks now, from the Los Angeles Police department headquarters - to be closed off between Main St. and Spring. St.
By 4 a.m., nearly 100 police officers in riot gear formed a perimeter around the south edge of the Occupy encampment, standing in a row and blocking off one crosswalk at 1st St. and Main St. and two crosswalks at 1st St. and Spring St.
Between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., a row of police officers advanced gradually on 1st St., moving in a long line that stretched from Main St. to Spring St., which run parallel to each other, on the south edge of the Occupy camp, eventually making four arrests of activists after demanding that all protestors - and media - remove themselves from the street.
Commander Andrew Smith, LAPD spokesman, said that the arrested parties were in violation of California Penal Code 409, which says, “Every person remaining present at the place of any riot…after [it] has been lawfully warned to disperse…is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in September, causing Occupy movements to spring up around the country, there has been some debate about whether or not the Occupy protests have a pervasive anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist element. I had a few brushes with anti-Zionism at the Monday morning demonstration.
Of these anti-Zionist instances, one protestor held up a large cardboard sign that said “Occupy L.A., Not Palestine” in spray-painted writing; another protestor walked around yelling the same slogan. When I went up to the latter protestor and asked him why’d he come to participate in the demonstration - and told him that I write for the Jewish Journal - he said, “Nothing wrong with Jewish people, just Zionism.”
In October, progressive Jewish groups, including Progressive Jewish Alliance and IKAR, showed solidarity with the Occupy L.A. movement, helping to construct a sukkah amongst the tents. I didn’t walk by the sukkah on this trip to Occupy L.A., but Journal reporter Jonah Lowenfeld reported earlier this month that the sukkah had been “repurposed.”
November 28, 2011 | 6:40 am
Posted by Ryan Torok
Update 6:26 a.m.
Protesting an eviction notice, Occupy L.A.‘ers demonstrated on Sunday night and in the waking hours of Monday, closing down 1st St. between Main St. and Spring St.
LAPD arrested four demonstrators. Cars and buses-normal traffic-proceeded on 1st street by 6:20 a.m.
Update: 6:13 a.m.
1st St. will reopen within moments, a LAPD officer announced on a megaphone at 6:05 am.
Prompting cheers from the Occupy demonstrators, police began leaving the site at 6:06 a.m., riding on the back of trucks and departing in groups on motorcycles. More than 50 officers were on a one-block radius on 1st St., between Main St. and Spring St.
It was a night and morning of mixed emotions from the Occupy camp. One moment many were cursing the police as they made arrests. No more than 30 minutes later, demonstrators thanked the police for their peaceful tactics.
Update: 6:00 a.m.
LAPD arrested several Occupy L.A. demonstrators on Monday morning.
Police officers in riot gear who had, only a few minutes before, come to the edge of the encampment, began slowly backing away in line from the camp, appearing to be taking orders.
Three days earlier, city officials issued an eviction notice against Occupy L.A.
Update: 5:50 a.m.
Los Angeles police department officials arrested several Occupy L.A. demonstrators early Monday morning. Police officials were seeking to follow through on an eviction notice issued to the local Occupy movement three days ago.
Adam Rice, an Occupy L.A. demonstrator, said “the people won.” The police wanted to clear the camp out by one minute after midnight, but the Occupy demonstrators held the camp until 5 a.m., Rice said.
Monday morning marked the first time the police came onto the encampment “with force,” Rice saId. It was not the first time arrests were made related to Occupy L.A., he said, explaining that police arrest demonstrators on Nov. 5 during a daytime rally.
Rice said that there were 6,500 people in total support of the camp at various points from Sunday evening to Monday morning,
“It was beautiful. I couldn’t even get a seat,” Rice said of the Occupy L.A. General Assembly meeting that took place Sunday night.
Estimates on turnout varied. Tony Nathan, another participant at Occupy L.A., estimated that nearly 2,000 people turned out for the anti-eviction demonstration, counting those who have been camping out and people who came for the single protest.
Update 5:20 a.m.
A handful of demonstrators were arrested, Commander Andrew Smith, LAPD spokesman, said in an interview with reporters as police clashed with demonstrators only a few feet away at the south edge of the camp at Main St. and 1st St. Smith said that protesters threw objects, possibly bamboo, at police. Smith could not confirm the exact amount arrested.
Smith said the protest has been non-violent for the most part.
Update: 5:15 a.m.
Reports that demonstrators were throwing Objects at the police at south edge of the camp. Media told to stay on sidewalk or face arrest.
The other main area of action at Occupy L.A.. In defiance of the eviction, the nonviolent sit in at the center of the camp, continued.
Update: 5:08 a.m.
The scene at Occupy L.A. grew chaotic as police advanced to the camp at Main St. and 1st St. “Protect and serve,” demonstrators chanted. “We are the 99%...Who’s blocking traffic now!”
Reports from various news outlets came in before midnight on Monday, Nov. 28 that Occupy L.A. demonstrators had taken to the streets outside Los Angeles City Hall, gathering on 1st St, between Spring St. and Main St. in defiance of city officials’ announcement that the anti-corporate protest movement would be evicted today.
An organizer with Occupy L.A. said that he’d heard that LAPD officials planned on arresting demonstrators remaining in the street but would not enter the encampment until daybreak. By 4 a.m., the police, standing at the southern edge of the camp, had not arrested anybody.
The announcement that the camp would be evicted was made three days ago, according to Occupy demonstrators.
The Journal is live on the scene reporting. Check back for updates.
November 23, 2011 | 5:40 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
[UPDATED: Wednesday, 9:35 p.m.]
On Tuesday morning, Nov. 22, 88-year-old Berish Landau lost his life while crossing the same street in the same way he did every morning—on his way to pray and study at a Chasidic Yeshiva in Hancock Park. A car was coming too fast, didn’t see him and ran him over.
An active member of the Orthodox community, Berish was walking to Kollel Yechiel Yehuda when he was struck by a 1999 Plymouth Voyager. The car also hit a second pedestrian, Rabbi Shmuel Jacobs. Like Berish, Jacobs is an active member of the Hancock Park community, and he was trying to help the slow-moving Berish across the street when the car struck them both.
Landau’s funeral was held on Tuesday night at Kollel. Landau is being buried in New York, however, where his wife is buried.
Jacobs, a teacher at Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn Toras Emes, is in critical condition at Cedars Sinai, according to the Los Angeles Times. The driver was not arrested, according to a report by the Journal and JTA.
The accident took place at 6 a.m., at the intersection of La Brea Boulevard and Oakwood Avenue.
Rabbi Yochonon Henig of Kollel and Rabbi Yonah Landau, Berish’s son, delivered eulogies at Landau’s funeral.
Jacobs condition has improved somewhat from yesterday to today, according to a 17-year-old who studies at Kollel who asked to be called simply, Mordechai. One of Jacobs’ former students, Mordechai couldn’t offer specific details about Jacobs’ medical circumstances.
Landau was crossing in a pedestrian zone, using his walker and moving slowly, when Jacobs came over to help him cross the street. The light had turned from green to red while Landau was still in the street, and the car hit both men.
For months, Jacobs has helped Landau cross the street every morning. Jacobs prays at Bais Yehuda, a synagogue adjacent to Kollel, and he would always watch from the window of Bais Yehuda, waiting for Landau. Upon seeing Landau, Jacobs would leave in the middle of services with his phylacteries still on to help Landau cross the road, Mordechai said.
“He would always run down, in the middle of whatever he was [doing], one hand over the shoulder [of Berish] and the other hand he would direct traffic,” Mordechai said. “Because he was scared for him.”
Hatzolah of Los Angeles was among those called to the scene in the immediate aftermath of the car accident.
The media has reported that Landau was a Jewish activist, but that’s inaccurate. His son, Rabbi Yonah Landau’s Touch of Kindness, a social services agency, facilitates food distribution to the needy. Yonah Landau also “maintains a few apartments for people to stay in when they come through Los Angeles on missions to collect charity,” Journal reporter Julie Fax wrote. The younger Laundau was highlighted in the Jewish Journal’s 2010 Mensch issue.
Berish Landau was originally from Galicia, an Eastern European region divided by Poland and Ukraine. He was said to have lived in Sibera for some time, against his will, after the Russians invaded Poland during World War II. He later lived in New York, until his wife died, and he has been living in Los Angeles with his son since his wife’s passing.
“He had a lot to tell, he had a lot to say, because he went through the war, he was in Siberia…he had a lot of interesting things to say, said a man who identified himself as Shlomo, who frequents Kollel.
Those who knew Landau said he spent every day at Kollel Yechiel Yehudah, and they remembered him as a quiet man with a big heart.
“He was a very very nice man. A big tzadik,” said a member of Bais Yehuda who asked to be called Rabbi Moshe.
“He was a holy Jew,” Mordechay said. “He was devoted to his creator all day.”
“I was very close to him, he was a special guy, Shlomo said.
Shlomo said Landau’s death has shocked the neighborhood, “the heart of the Los Angeles Orthodox Jewish community,” according to yourjewishnews.
“It was a terrible tragedy, ” Shlomo said, “for the whole community.”
Sgt. Smith, watch commander at the LAPD West Traffic Division, provided the following press release over the phone, regarding the car accident on Tuesday that took the life of Jewish community member Berish Landau, 88, and left Rabbi Samuel Jacobs, 59, critically injured:
On Tuesday, November, 22 2011 at approximately 0615 hours a fatal traffic collision, vehicle versus pedestrian, occurred on La Brea Ave. and Oakwood Ave. The vehicle was a 99 Plymouth Voyager ... [vehicle] was northbound on La Brea when he struck two pedestrians who were walking in the crosswalk. Party 2, which is Samuel Jacobs, 59-years-old, Valley Village, CA, resident, was transported to Cedars Sinai, where he was in critical condition. Party 3, an 88-year-old resident, [Berish Landau] was transported to Cedars Sinai, Mr. Landau, succumbed to his injuries. His next of kin was notified.