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An Occupied Heart

They say that idol hands are the devil’s playground.  I’ll make a new version of that saying and state that based on the events of Saturday October 15th in L.A.’s financial district and our trip there, an occupied heart is the height of democracy and the beginning of a shift in the way some people are thinking both on the streets of LA and beyond.  What that ultimately means, remains to be decided by the 99%.  The only thing of certainty is that the 99% has arrived and is not planning to leave the steps of L.A. City Hall anytime soon.
Yesterday my good friend and longtime KGEM host Ralph Walker and I took a train ride out to the Occupy Los Angeles rally in the financial district to see what Occupy L.A. was all about.  Ralph didn’t sleep much the night before.  Neither had I.  Honestly neither of us knew what to expect other than it would certainly be news worthy.
Upon riding the Gold Line we sat near a young man carrying a large plastic container filled with dry goods and paper products.  He was apologetic for the size of his box.  They were supplies for those parked in tents outside City Hall.  He’d never been there before either but felt the need to simply bring something to the rally.
Ralph also had a spirited conversation with another friend named Benjamin that had marched as a human shield for MLK and had since found plenty of wrong with the system, with protesting in general and turned his heart to the beauty of growing roses and the company of good friends instead.  It was the first protest he had attending since the 60’s.
We approached the camp about 10 am.  It seemed sparsely populated, located on the north side of L.A. City Hall.  There were few people around.  We got some stirring interview footage with those who were there and found a library, a medical tent, a meditation tent, compost and recycle bins and a generally clean and friendly atmosphere.
I was disappointed and I think Ralph was too because there were so few tents and people, maybe two or three dozen tops.  Or so we thought.
Benjamin had to leave to tend to a friend before we really got a look around. I’m sorry he left, because what we saw next changed everything.
You see, we hadn’t bothered to walk around the other side of city hall, where there were literally hundreds of additional tents.  Yet, everywhere I walked, it seemed like a ghost town.  Where were the occupiers?
Someone remarked they saw a large group of people up the street gathering for a march, which explained alot.
Ralph and I started walking, following traffic cops who didn’t know much of what was going on.
Then, we saw them.  A long and wide stream of people several blocks ahead.  They were marching back toward the camp.
I wound up directly in the closed off street as the entire march approached, perhaps between 7 and 10 thousand people were what press there estimated.
Ralph and I climbed into a potted tree planter to make an on camera report. The march was a sight to see and not something soon to forget.  What struck me most was the diversity.  We spoke with and filmed senior citizens who had never been to anything like it before.  We spoke to young people, to middle aged artists and executives alike, people of all races, all beliefs, some more conservative, some more liberal, all joined by the realization that the status quo cannot sustain itself and will only be changed by those with the voice to change it.
I was moved by the simplicity and beauty of the people present.  There was no animosity, no raw anger as one would expect.  It was an energy of coming together, of no longer accepting the status quo, an energy of, dare I say it, open hearts and love.
I will be posting more videos of the event as this footage below is just what was offloaded from my camera overnight and I have much more.
Most affecting to me was my tour through the camp itself.
I shot what I saw.  I tried to find the things, the moments that others would overlook.  The little things.  A man asleep on a matt beside his tent.  A dog straying in search of food.  A child coloring as her mother painted a sign.  A man and woman hugging as if they hadn’t seen each other in ten years.
I realized that these people were not the disenfranchised, the unemployed, the lazy, the ones with idol hands…  the people there yesterday were occupied with the feeling they had created.  A sense of love, togetherness and friendship that had been missing too long.  One young guy told us, “All we want is for people to come out, because if they come out and talk to their neighbors we can learn to use our imagination together.  We can change the world.”
Change the world?  They had occupied hearts and with an occupied heart nothing is impossible.
Please enjoy the video Ralph and I shot.   More to come.

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