Sunday, November 27, 2011

(de) OCCUPY LA: There's Somethin Happen Here -- What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear...

“I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" declared the lifer news anchor Howard Beale in the 1975 film classic Network.  A movie ahead of my time but the message I certainly understand. I have been occupied with Occupy.

Following Mayor Villaragoisa’s order to activists to decamp from City Hall no Angeleno can help but evaluate their stance on Occupy LA and wonder what will happen at 12:01 AM.  Two questions are repeated:  What’s going to happen?  Where the Occupy protestors go?  
What will happen is easy.  The Occupiers will be forced to vacate their camp – the police will move them out.  But what about after they are decamped?  What happens to the things the Occupiers stand for?  Will they be able to continue to assert their beliefs?  Or will the eviction from their camp mean the end of their protest?

But as I sit here I can’t help wanting to break out into my inner UCSB liberal self, holding hands and singing kumbaya.  But instead, Buffalo Springfield’s 60’s lyric seems way more apropos to Occupy.; “There’s somethin’ happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.”

Occupiers have achieved one thing -- they have our attention.  And thanks to the City of Los Angeles -- the Mayor, the police, LA City Council Members, etc. -- they were allowed to use City grounds to make their point.  But now what?

We all understand that the Occupiers are mad, but about what?   I mean, specifically -- what are Occupiers mad about?  And after you tell me that, please tell me -- what do the Occupiers exactly want?  To me, Occupy has failed to do anything more than occupy -- and as such I am left no choice but to stand by the City in its decision to decamp.  The City may do so not only legally but ethically as well.

My best guess is that the Occupiers represent the 99% of America that feels at an economic disadvantage to the top 1% of American wage earners.  And I must admit that I am not a member of that 99% for definitional purposes.  But I know financial pressure.  I know the job market and I have spent a career advocating, serving and protecting the 99%.  I get the cause and I get the issue.  
I am all for protest, free speech and providing those who choose to protest every protection under the First Amendment – letting voices of dissent make their point is one of the things that makes this country great.

However, Occupiers, you must now listen to our Mayor…as he did you.
The Mayor unequivocally delivered both a message and a plan of action.  He stated,  "The movement is at a crossroads.  It is time for Occupy LA to move from holding a particular patch of park land to spreading the message of economic justice and signing more people up for the push to restore the balance to American society."

Occupiers, maybe if you had not only a message but also an actual plan the Mayor and the rest of us could stand behind what appears to have become an unsanitary slumber party at City Hall.  But you have put forth no plan, and the Mayor is now forced to act.  That park doesn’t belong to you -- it belongs to all of us.  So, Occupiers, what happens next is up to you.

How you going to play it?  Do you know?  Who decides what the next step is?
You have done a great job raising awareness and bringing an extremely important message of economic inequality to the table.  But I can’t take issue with the City of Los Angeles saying it’s time to pack up when there is no end in sight.  And like I do when I am confused about my stance, I simply look to the law.
The First Amendment allows for the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to that end.  But, there is no right in the Constitution that permits day in and day out sleepovers and camp-outs in city owned/public property.  There is no right to loiter nor right to trespass that appears in the Constitution.

The City of Los Angeles’ position has been that the City would not interfere with Occupy to show its support for the cause.  In doing so, however, the City did not somehow abdicate its rights to provide a safe and sanitary park for all citizens to enjoy.  The City has the right to enforce the laws of the land and to order people to disperse when the peaceful assembly has become a nuisance, a public health issue, or has created danger.

"The goal is to do this as peacefully as possible," Chief Beck said.  But some Occupy protesters have already indicated that they will resist eviction from the City Hall park.  So now that we are less than 4 hours away from decampment time what’s gonna happen? 
Cops are doing NOTHING today but keeping a watchful eye.  Both sides (cops and Occupiers) are saying what happens depends on the actions of the other.  By tomorrow we can expect about 300-400 police officers at the scene.  The number of folks coming to protest remains largely unknown though there was a Facebook page inviting 26,000 people to a Eviction Block Party.

Inside law enforcement sources say that the Occupy decampment plan is to be dictated by the number and demeanor of the protestors.  The mantra is that the crowd will dictate police action -- not the other way around.  Internal police meetings (roll call as well as internal emails) suggest that LAPD and LASD are specifically discussing how now to have a “Davis”.

As such, I am told that they will NOT use pepper spray as a subduing mechanism -- but any escalation may warrant a change of ground rules.  For now the police are relying on traditional means per protocol for people who don't disperse.   However, there is word that there may be other nonviolent means that police could use should the situation start to get out of hand.

They will arrest people who are committing clear crimes – using drugs, alcohol, or flagrantly disturbing the peace. If the number of protestors grows so large to require dispersement, police will physically lift people and take them into police cars to remove them from the scene. Even this however, according to an internal police email, will not be done without SUPERVISOR permission.

Law enforcement is anticipating that some folks will be easy to get to remove from the scene as they commit crimes in front of the police that will justify arrest.  Those protesters who are peeing in public or using drugs and alcohol, people who have known warrants out for their arrest – those people will be removed first.  The next round of people to be removed will be the ones considered trespassers, loiterers and obstructers.  Finally, there will come an official time set to say “move it or arrest” -- we do know that time will come and police are hopeful that it will be as drama-free as it was at the Occupy march a week ago.

So, LA Occupiers we know what the police are going to do.  We know how they are going to do it and their message is pretty darn clear, “It’s time to vacate the premises.”  They made a decision, have a plan, and will implement in only a few hours.  You have been on the lawn for 7 weeks.  My question to you is if you are fighting to stay then please tell us what you are saying and what you want.

And while I can’t find a clear message for what Occupy the movement stands for I did find a number of resources on the Occupy LA website.  Here they have provided things you can do to Stop the Eviction of Occupy LA.  Occupiers are calling for people to show up on 11pm on Sunday night in solidarity and have generated a petition to stop the eviction.  “Take the time to sign it, tweet it, and pass it along to your friends, “ they say.

They further encourage supporters to email the Mayor and Council Members too!

Antonio Villaraigosa: (213) 978-0600 or (213) 978-0721
District 1: Ed Reyes: (213)-473-7001
District 2: Paul Krekorian: (213)-473-7002
District 3: Dennis Zine: (213)-473-7003
District 4: Tom LaBonge: (213)-473-7004
District 5: Paul Koretz: (213)-473-7005
District 6: Tony Cardenas: (213) -473-7006
District 7: Richard Alacorn: (213)-473-7007
District 8: Bernard Parks: (213)-473-7008
District 9: Jan Perry: (213)-473-7009
District 10: Herb Wesson Jr.: (213)-473-7010
District 11: Bill Rosendahl: (213)-473-7011
District 12: Mitchell Englander: (213)-473-7012
District 13: Eric Garcetti: (213)-473-7013
District 14: Jose Huizar: (213)-473-7014


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Thank You to Bob Costas and Jerry Sandusky, Too

I gotta send a big thank you to Bob Costas. Upon hearing NBC was doing this interview, I was pissed that your show was going to be a platform for Jerry Sandusky. However, I think the the surpisingly bad interview will only be helpful for justice in the future. You did a bang up job, asked excellent questions, and gave us an opportunity to hear from the alleged pedophile himself in an a way that I would not have predicted. The 10 minute or so phone interview did nothing to change my view of the horrific case at Penn State U and the alleged crimes of this horrific man. But unexpectedly the interview gave me and the prosecutors more corroboration.

This may sound strange but I am also sending a big "thank you" to Jerry Sandusky, for being so darn typical, that is typical of the words of a predator. Your answers and lack of answers were telling. I particularly enjoyed how you did this as a phone interview not allowing anyone to judge your facial expressions and lack thereof in order to really assess your credibility. You, like every other accused deserve a vehement defense and are entitled to every protection of the law in a court of law. But last night you chose to play in a place that doesn’t have the same legal protections. You played in the court of public opinion via the media and in my view convicted yourself while also previewing the legal case to come. For your sake, I hope the legal decisions and tactics are more strategized, more believable and more helpful as last night’s showing was pathetic for both you as an individual and despicable for the defense of your case as a whole. I mean, who puts their client on the tv (even via phone) for an interview at all? Did Amendola and Sandusky not hear about the Conrad Murray taped interview? There is a reason that we have the 5th Amendment. I still have not seen an interview yet where anyone thinks this helped your case. Frankly, I could care less if you and your lawyer make ridiculous decisions and chose to yap despite the protections of the 5th Amendment.

We have learned a lot from the Grand Jury Indictment but the tidbits we saw in Bob Costas’ interview were the most insightful and telling. To his demise, Sandusky may have implicitly divulged key facts about the defense strategy and offered a sneak peak into what’s ahead in the legal battle.

Many of you have emailed, tweeted, and facebooked me, etc saying “creepy”, “gross”, “disgusting”. Many had that feeling but let me point you to the specifics so you understand why.

This was an interview where we merely heard the voice of the accused. He had no affect, no emotion, and no face. There is no doubt that this was intentionally orchestrated. Trust me, NBC can find an optic wire to satellite him, or Skype would have worked too. The ability to believe and trust comes from things like eye contact, sincerity, and facial expressions. Without having that benefit we can only assume he either had none or even worse had facial expressions and affect that his attorneys were so concerned about that they hid him.

2. THE “UMs” AND THE “UHs”
Even without the “tells” of facial expressions, the interview still painted a very eerie picture. There were countless times when Sandusky stumbled and seemed to be searching for the words while being asked the most basic of questions.

How hard is it just to say no?
BOB COSTAS: Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?

JERRY SANDUSKY: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?


JERRY SANDUSKY: Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to

be around them. But no I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.

“An innocent person doesn’t have to repeat that question and then parse it, ” said a Joel Achenbach a Washington Post blogger.   "The innocent would have said, simply, “no!”  he added. 

Same thing happens here:

Do you feel guilty? Do you feel as if it's your fault?


How hard is that to answer that question? I mean really!!!

NBC touted the interview as breaking-silence but there were certainly pauses and long moments of silence. Silence may not be used against you in a courtroom but it can in a TV interview. Silence can either be seen as a tacit admission, a sign of inability to answer, shame, or even guilt. When asked what he has to say about those who see him as a monster, Sandusky struggled to come up with a response, almost conceding to the label. “I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that if somehow people could hang out until my attorney has a chance to fight, you know, for my innocence. That's about all I could ask right now. And you know, obviously, it's a huge challenge,” he said.

More than one time, Costas asked why several unrelated people over the span of years would falsely accuse Sandusky of the same pattern of misconduct. Nearly each and every time, Sandusky responds, “You’d have to ask them.” No, Mr. Sandusky, YOU were asked for a logical explanation as to why so many unrelated people would have varying accounts of the same abusive behavior on different occasions. On the surface, Sandusky was a revered football coach for a Division I school and a very charitable man. Why would several people who don’t know each other wrongly accuse Sandusky of the most heinous acts? The only answer Sandusky could come up with was to divert the question and victimize himself. Thank you Bob Costas for pointing out the lack of sincerity in Sandusky’s response by stating that he must just be the “unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about.”

Another classic maneuver for a perpetrator to separate himself from any future guilt is blame. Sandusky already set up the blame and strategy to be on his lawyer. In his words, “if somehow people could hang out until my attorney has a chance to fight, you know, for my innocence.” What words were noticeably absent? - “The truth will come out,” “I will be exonerated,” and “This is a terrible injustice.” That was far from what we heard. What he gave were long pauses, ums, and stumbling to denounce that he’s sexually attracted to young boys. Translation of that is I am guilty and I hope my lawyer can get me out of this jam. And what message was also received but not stated…I am taking this to trial to save myself and maybe even save those who tried to save my ass. Hell, he must think he has nothing to lose.

While I could continue to analyze the telltale moments of the interview, the single most important aspect was that it provided great intel and a heads up to the prosecution of what’s to come. Joseph Amendola stated: “We expect we're going to have a number of kids. Now how many of those so-called eight kids, we're not sure. But we anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say this never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred. In fact, one of the toughest allegations -- the McQueary violations -- what McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child says that never happened. Now grown up... now the person's in his twenties.”

Ladies and gentleman, you may remember the McMartin case here in my City of Angels. To remind you I quote,“The McMartin preschool trial was a day care sexual abuse case of the 1980s. Members of the McMartin family, who operated a preschool in California, were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse of children in their care. Accusations were made in 1983. Arrests and the pretrial investigation ran from 1984 to 1987, and the trial ran from 1987 to 1990. After six years of criminal trials, no convictions were obtained, and all charges were dropped in 1990. When the trial ended in 1990 it had been the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. The case was part of day care sex abuse hysteria, a moral panic over satanic ritual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Think I’m kidding? Sandusky supporters are already commenting all over the blogosphere even on, a comprehensive website featuring news, sports, entertainment, and information about Central Pennsylvania. Like Creole Chavez said, November 11, 2011 at 6:35PM, “Maybe Sandusky is highly likely to be guilty, but the McMartin preschool was burnt to the ground too. It was also later proven to be all LIES. That is why folks need to rant here and not go vigilante. It tends not to turn out well. No sense in someone that thinks they are helping to add to the fire. Eric Rudolph did not help the pro-life crowd. Yes, be angry and scream, but do no harm. Enough physical harm has already been done. Roll Tide.”

As AP columnist, Mac Engle so aptly stated, “Nothing in this approximately 10-minute interview is apt to change the public's perception that Sandusky's behavior is anything other than amoral, criminal and sick under any code in any society. For the sake of argument, let us assume that the very worst act Sandusky committed is that he showered with young boys, and that he touched their legs without sexual intent. As a parent, I would want to know this so I could make my own judgment and take appropriate action. This is black and white. This is not horseplay. There is no oops. There is no misunderstanding. Get out of my kid's shower. And don't you lay a finger on my kid, you repugnant creep.”

So a big thank you to Bob Costas. You helped those who will prosecute Sandusky have a preview of how the defense will present its case. You let us hear the words of this accused pedophile failing to change the minds of the public. And hopefully, each child who was abused (especially the ones that could have been spared had the mandated reporters reported) will be able to say thank you, too if this interview is replayed in a real court for a juror to hear.