The Occupy the Rose Parade Action
By Dennis Loo (1/3/12)
I participated yesterday (Jan. 2, 2012) in the Occupy the Rose Parade action along with several thousand others. A good three thousand gathered afterwards for a rally in the Pasadena City Hall area and assuming that another thousand didn’t stick around for the rally (on the basis of my on the ground view of the march itself), I’d say that there were at least four thousand as a whole who came out. Peter Thottham, the main organizer, estimated the turnout at between 5-7,000. The LA Times quoted the police as saying there were 400 demonstrators, which is an absurdly low estimate. But then, this is the game that they routinely play.
The day before the march the Pasadena Star-Ledger ran a hit piece on Peter calling him a questionable figure with a shady past and the LA Times stated as their January 1, 2012 article that “Those disrupting Rose Parade face fines, jail time.”
Despite these attempts to scare people away and despite some alleged friction between Peter and Occupy LA and Occupy Pasadena over the failure to get the official endorsement of the General Assemblies of both occupies (I say alleged because I don’t know if that was in fact the case), the turnout was very large. I was there at OLA helping to do a dress rehearsal of the Octopus (which was used to bring up the rear of the march as our Rose Parade “float”) when Peter announced his plans to carry out the Occupy the Rose Parade action and invited OLA to attend. I am assuming that Peter probably also did this before the GA.)
I am not going to attempt to summarize the entire action but I will mention two anecdotes. Since the march wasn’t officially part of the Rose Parade but brought up the rear of the end of the parade and was followed by a lot of riot police, the crowds were partially dispersing through our ranks as we marched. One of them, a 60ish rather overweight white woman who was walking a few feet away from me declaimed around her: “Join the military and get your ass whipped.” To which immediately, a man and a young woman near me both rejoined: “I did, did you?” The hostile woman looked a bit shocked, had nothing to say, and scurried away quickly. The other incident I witnessed was a 40ish white woman, probably upper middle class judging from her dress and grooming, who said to us: “I work for a living and support you people” to which two other women near me said back: “I work for a living too.”
What those who are hostile to the Occupy Movement don’t really understand, as these anecdotes underscore, is how broadly representative the ranks of the Occupy Movement are of the populace. This is not just a bunch of unemployed hippies banging drums. This is, as the chant that seemed to be the second most popular on the march: “WE are the 99%! YOU are the 99%!”
Most of the planned speakers at the rally, with the exception of Cindy Sheehan, put forward a reform the system position, calling for people to support various voting initiatives and electing different representatives to office. Cindy, by far, got the strongest response from the crowd, not only because of who she is, but what she said. She spoke of her hope that 2012 would be a year of revolution.