November 30, 2011

Baghdad, California: LAPD Evicts OccupyLA with Embedded Media. (X's Indy Cams, Too)

Apparently the revolution wasn’t televised.

Well, it actually it was — but, in the same way the Iraq and Afghan wars have been, which in this case involved a few hand-picked embedded reporters and photographers escorted around by the men and women in blue. (See LA Weekly’s: Occupy L.A. Eviction: Is LAPD Restricting Coverage With Last-Minute ‘Pool Media’?)

So, do we know what really happened inside the park surrounding City Hall? I ask because it sure looked quite meditated around the perimeter where most of the TV cameras were confined — that is, at least until 2pm, when KNBC and Fox 11, with their ground crews and their helicopters, went off the air and even these distant eyes went dark.

Given this was the best view available — most of the scenes from the news choppers, by the way, capturing action on the periphery of the park — can you tell what’s going on?

And then, it’s telling when many of the scenes the media was relegated to was from the back of the line — and that’s after the reporter asked permission to video from there!

All was not lost, however, as the embedded media, wearing the bright yellow vests with media stencilled on them, got to get cozy with the uniforms (just like in foreign combat zones nowadays).  And how many approved photographers were listed in the LA Weekly post? Oh yeah, three.

So, did the LAPD shoot the Occupiers out of the tree with those damaging bean bag guns? Beats me. These images were captured before the throng media, except for the embeds, were tossed out of the park.

UPDATE: I want to thank AC Missias for the important question: “what about the obligatory 500 smart phones and uplink feeds??”  Perhaps the most insidious aspect of the action last night was the clever way the LAPD was able to slowly move all but the most determined further and further away from the park.  If the extremely slow and deliberate strategy was also a good thing — at least with so many media and indy, motion and still cameras everywhere (the police documenting every move using their own cameras and cops with notebooks to avoid, and have the ability to counter, any charge of impropriety), over the hours, they used a tightening cordon around the park, increasingly stern warnings of arrest and increasingly harder and unqualified demands to clear out one pocket or another to drive those with the indy cams (I was following three of them on-line) further and further away from the park proper.  As for cell phone images, as I wrote below, I’m sure there were some, but the protesters still hunkering down after 1 am had the police on top of them, biding their time until forcing the issue (and maybe issuing the force).  Most interesting was the comment of one very eloquent protester who briefly talked to Channel 11 while he was waiting to be loaded on police bus to go to jail. I don’t have the direct quote, but what he said was close to: “yeah, closer to city hall, the police were using rubber bullets, but who was going to know.”

To the extent that this embedding strategy, along with the tactic of very slooowly choking off the park made the LAPD officers look like little Gandhis, or certainly, at least, the opposite of Oakland PD, last night’s action seems to have also offered something even more important to the corporate state, which was a model for effectively weeding out most of the social media.

UPDATE 2: Ha! Just read the NYT story on the Occupy LA action. Surprising or not, here’s how it starts off:

Around 12:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, scores of police officers raided the Occupy camp that had been set up in a park around City Hall, leading most of the protesters to scramble out of their tents and gather in large groups in the surrounding streets.

When the raid ended several hours later, the police said they had arrested about 200 people. But as dawn approached, officers fired bean bag rounds to try to coax down some protesters who had climbed trees. It was not immediately clear if their actions caused injuries.

Like I said last night regarding the tree sitters — in spite of the the few embeds on hand — who’s gonna know?

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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