Monday, January 23, 2012

Journal of a Mother Lode and L.A. Resident Arrested at Occupy L.A.: Post 1

John Pulskamp.
By John Pulskamp

My family has been in Los Angeles since just after the Civil War, but in the 1970s my youngest sister’s in-laws bought a business in Amador County and my two youngest sisters and their husbands moved to Amador County to help with the business. Later, I think because my mother wanted to be near her daughters, my parents built a nice home in Sutter Creek and moved there.

From the 1970s on our family started spending more and more time in Amador County. Our Thanksgiving Day’s calibrations were always held there, and after my parents moved to Sutter Creek our Christmases were celebrated in their home in Sutter Creek. During summer vacations from school various of our sons would work at Lake Amador as “boat boys” or helping around the grounds and cafĂ© at the lake. One of our sons decided he wanted to stay in Amador County and finish high school there. He stayed, and he and his family still live in Ione. Our second daughter and our oldest granddaughter live in Sacramento.

Calaveras County.
Several of our sons are planning on opening a restaurant in Jackson, and I expect that when that happens a few more of the boys will move up north.

With more and more of my family leaving southern California and establishing themselves in the Mother Lode area, and the fact that the San Fernando Valley, where I’ve lived since 1951, has become so crowded I decided to move north as well. My wife and I own a few acres in Calaveras County just south of Lake Camanche, and I am slowly getting it fixed up to meet my wife’s requirements for a place to live. I spend about half of my time there in Calaveras County and the other half in the San Fernando Valley. In recent months I’ve been spending a little more time in Calaveras than in southern California. Hopefully, in the not too distant future my wife and I will be fully moved in there.

I suppose I’ve always held a sort of a populist outlook on the economy and politics in our country, over the past several decades it seems to me that the average people, the workers and small business owners, have been increasingly getting the short end of the stick. When I first heard of the Occupy Wall Street movement I wasn’t sure if it was going anywhere, or if it might turn out to just be a flash in the pan. It did sound like they were raising the right questions, though. So I began to pay a little more attention.

Sharing food, photo from L.A. Times.
Toward the middle or end of September I began to hear that the movement was coming to Los Angeles. Over the radio statements were made that Occupy Los Angeles would begin on October 1, and continue through December 31. I decided that I would check it out to learn more about what it was up to. On October 1 I was at my place in Calaveras County, so I wasn’t at Occupy Los Angeles from the very start. In fact it wasn’t until October 27 that I first actually went to City Hall and had my first contact with Occupy Los Angeles. Ironically, I went City Hall that day to attend a function being put on by Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa honoring Native Americans. One of my daughters and some of my grandchildren had been asked to dance there, and I went to see them. After the reception at City Hall I went out and wandered around the Occupy encampment.

After that I returned to Occupy Los Angeles every few days to watch what was going on, and see if it was something in which I would want to participate. It was interesting, but at first I didn’t understand the structure. I was impressed by the fact that although at first glance it seemed a bit chaotic, that in actuality there was a certain kind of order to it all. There was a first aid/medical tent, a library tent, a tent where donations of food and supplies were being received, classes being conducted, etc. It looked disorganized, but actually there was a lot going on.
Photo by John Pulskamp.
Sometime early in November I encountered a small group of about a half dozen young people who had decided to organize a march on the banks. I sat in on their discussions and committed to returning a few days later for the planned march. On the day of that march there couldn’t have been more than a dozen of us who actually participated. However, even with that small number, the march had an impact. We marched to several banks carrying picket signs and chanting things like “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!” At each of the banks the banks’ security personnel would scurry over and lock the doors. There was no violence or property damage done.
Soon after that I returned to my place in Calaveras County, but a few days later I was back in the Los Angeles area, and went back to City Hall.

 On November 17 there was going to be another march on the banks, and I decided I’d participate in that march as well. What a surprise though! From about ten or twelve people who had marched about a week or so earlier, this march involved a huge number of people! I’m not so good at judging crowd sized, but I’m pretty sure there had to be over a thousand marching that day.
The plan was to march south on Broadway for a few blocks and then turn west for a few blocks up to the place where Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo all have their skyscrapers clustered in one area.
LAPD on November 17. Photo by John Pulskamp.

However, our plans were disrupted by the police. LAPD was present in large numbers, and set up scrimmage lines forcing us to stay out of the street and onto the sidewalk in spite of the fact they had blocked off vehicular traffic. They then set up scrimmage lines at various intersections preventing our progress on our intended route, and forcing us to constantly alter our planned route. In addition to this, after confining us to the sidewalk groups of cops would storm into the march effectively breaking us up into smaller groups. This created confusion as each of the groups tried to find their way to the banks. The net result was that far fewer people arrived at the destination, than had started out on the march. There was some, but fairly minimal, police violence and a couple of arrests made that day during the march and rally held at the banks.
After arriving at the banks a satellite Occupy Los Angeles encampment was established by erecting tents in the courtyard at the banks. LAPD blocked off the streets and brought in a huge number of police cars, black & whites, as well as unmarked cars. They also brought in buses, motorcycles, and bicycles. There were loads, and loads of cops. I eventually left to take care of other things, but I understand more arrests were made and the encampment was dismantled.


  1. The photo with the caption saying "Occupy Los Angeles became increasingly permanent" is of something the City put up, apparently to protect a lovely fountain made of marble. I have heard that some one had put some graffiti on it, which, if true, was not in keeping with what Occupy L.A. intended. With a big crowd like that, there are likely to be a few irresponsible people who ruin things for the rest. We do know that there were agents provocateurs mingling in as well. I believe the art work on that structure was "donated" by some of the Occupiers.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading more of this.

  3. Okay, I removed that caption and just left the picture.