Apparently, while I was tooling around the desert last week, the Riverside Police Dept. broke up the encampment of the Occupy Riverside protest. According to the local rag, eleven people were arrested for resisting RPD as they dismantled the encampment. Even though I wasn't there, the event was pretty well documented and charges of police brutality were pretty much discounted by the media. The Occupy Riverside participants didn't share the same view.
Frankly, I am kind of sorry I missed it. Nothing makes for exiting photography like newsworthy discord. Though I really don't wish discord on anybody, if it's going to happen in a public venue, I don't mind shooting it. So when I read in the paper that the Occupy Riverside group was going to march to RPD headquarters, I decided to cancel my luncheon plans with Michelle Obama and document the exercise.
I had visited the Occupy Riverside encampment before and had POSTED ABOUT IT HERE. In a nutshell, the vast majority of occupiers and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum on most issues, though we do have share common ground on a few. The protest was peaceful while I was there, yet the people were doing a good job getting their message out. As a firm believer in the constitution and the bill of rights, I support their right to protest, as long as it;s peaceful and doesn't get too far out of line.
This time, I was curious too see what, if any, changes in the group dynamic were and see how RPD was going to handle the event.
The Crowd seemed a little younger this time and maybe a little more "counter culture" in nature.
Regardless of the make-up of the protesters, there was little doubt as to what they were upset about.
After a rally at the Occupy Riverside site, the protesters lined up and took their protest on the road.
The route took the protesters past a branch of the Bank of America and some choice words were offered regarding the immoral nature of the organization.
This is one area where I agree with the protesters, I hate B of A too.
Note the handwritten message on the shirt of the woman in the left of the photo below. I thought the message rather 60's-ish in nature and it's presentation rather amateur.
Another area where I agree with the occupiers. I like veterans, feel like we under-fund veterans programs and feel that we leave many out to dry upon their return from doing our bidding.
The first "stop" on this road trip was at the county jail. Some of last weeks arrestees felt that they were mistreated during their brief stay there. The gentleman with the bullhorn addressed the crowd and did a good job rallying the marchers.
After a brief stop at the jail, the march went back down the street to Riverside Police Dept. Headquarters. There, the march leadership railed at the building from below the steps.
While at RPD, a small group aired their grievances about RPD's and RSO's actions during the arrests last week. I have to be honest - though I am sure that the arrests were less than pleasant, all of the complaints that I heard sounded like they were in line with normal procedures. Getting popped is just not a pleasant experience, whether for civil disobedience or some other offense. I think the protesters are barking up the wrong tree on this one.
There is that Guy Fawkes mask guy again. Actually, there were several people in attendance who were sporting that mask. I am told that the Guy Fawkes mask has become the unofficial mask of the occupy movement.
This guy is carrying fliers and photos of Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic who was beaten to death by Fullerton Ca. P.D. officers. Several officers were arrested as a result of this beating death, frankly - rightly so.
After a while, the rally was over and the march headed back to the occupy Riverside location. On the way. they marched by this gazebo/canopy, which is located to the rear of the police station.
The protesters found this ironic as canopies were apparently part of the issue when the occupy Riverside encampment was dismantled. It was commented on quite thoroughly.
Throughout the entire process, RPD chose not to confront the protesters -there was no need to. RPD stayed out of sight, though I did see an RSO un-marked car watching the event from across the street. The metro team members who were in these cars were in the back lot when the protesters detoured to see the canopy. I think it caught the marchers by surprise, I am not sure about the officers.
Everybody behaved themselves and the protesters completed their road trip without further incident.
To sum this up, I think that the composition and attitude of the occupy Riverside protest has changed a bit. It appears that some of the more mainstream folks are no longer with this group, and that there are more hard core social activists within it.
All of that is immaterial. As long as the protests remain peaceful, don't negatively impact too many people or harm other peoples property or the environment, the occupiers should be allowed to express their opinion.
It will be interesting to see how this all pans out, especially if interest from mainstream society wanes. Will the occupy movement wane as well, or will the level of protest and disobedience be ramped up to renew media attention?
Thanks for reading,