Occupy Los Angeles was scheduled for a so-called eviction, which was to take place anytime after 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 28. What happened however, was a large-scale “theatrical display” orchestrated by the LAPD in order to create a media frenzy in which they could demonstrate how  well-behaved and restrained their officers are.

On Friday, November 25, Mayor Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck, announced that the city will be closing “Solidarity Park”, at 12:01 a.m., on Monday November 28 and that the park’s closure would be enforced sometime after that, thus signing Occupy LA’s eviction notice.

In response to the announcement, some 2,000 supporters flooded the camp on Sunday, in the hopes of preventing what was believed to be an imminent eviction. Protesters poured into the streets surrounding City Hall, blocking traffic up until the early morning hours.

The LAPD kept their police presence minimal for most of the night, making their presence known sometime after midnight and increasing in numbers throughout the night.

The 7 hour standoff, which stretched from roughly midnight to 7 a.m., resulted in the LAPD Police Commander, Andrew Smith, stating they were not going to attempt eviction that night and requesting that the occupiers vacate the intersections of 1st and Spring and 1st and Main. In reality, the LAPD had not planned to evict the occupiers to begin with.

Their goal was simple: threaten eviction, present a moderately large police presence (approximately 400 – 500 officers appeared sometime close to 4 a.m.), and watch for the occupiers’ reaction. You could call it a test run, or a study – LAPD was attempting to learn how the protesters would react to eviction (would there be violence? would there be resistance?), what they would do (would they disperse? would they attempt to protect their encampment?), and where their weak spots were.

This I realized in hindsight, after witnessing the actual eviction. The observations the LAPD had gathered on Monday morning, during the standoff, directly influenced the planning of the actual eviction. Brilliant strategy (even if I hate to admit it).

The eviction took place two days later.

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Occupy Los Angeles, a faction of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been camping out on the Lawns of City Hall for the past 7 weeks. What started as a small encampment now covers virtually all open space surrounding the government building.

The movement, which started on Wall Street and has now spread to every major city in the United states and many in Europe, was inspired by an Adbusters blog post, which was posted on July 13, 2011. The ad called for people to take action, starting on September 17, by flooding into Lower Manhattan and setting up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades with the intent of occupying Wall Street for an unspecified amount of time.

The Adbusters blog reads:

“The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.

Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?

The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we’re doomed without it.”

In Los Angeles, the occupation began on October 1 with a few people and tents. In the last 2 weeks, the encampment has grown to several hundred tents and up to 800 occupiers. Several organizations have joined in the movement and events and marches have been planned for almost every weekend since the camp moved in.

On November 11, 2011, Occupy LA held and afternoon music festival. Bands of all kinds participated including RVIVR, a punk band from Olympia Washington. A friend and I were down at the encampment that day and decided to word together on a short multimedia piece about the band.

Here it is:

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles on October 15, 2011 for what they dubbed the “Global Change March”. The protestors started in Pershing Square where they rallied first and then proceeded to march through the downtown financial district. There were approximately 2,000 in attendance for the march. The march ended back at City Hall, where occupants have been camping for the last 3 weeks in protest of Big Banks’ corruption and profit hoarding, the staggering unemployment rate, and the prevalence of corporate greed. The rest of the day boasted several events from speakers known in the financial and activism worlds to bands showing their solidarity and support by performing.

As the name “Global Change March” might imply, similar marches took place in more than 1,000 cities in over 92 countries across the globe. There are a lot of fed up people in the world right now. Turn outs all over the world averaged in the tens of thousands. The most notable turn out, in my opinion, had to be Madrid, Spain where an unfathomable 500,000 people flooded in to the streets and packed into the city’s center. What’s even more remarkable to me is that the Madrid protest was peaceful!!!

I was at the OccupyLA rally and march and I must say that as nice as it was to see people actively protesting, standing up for what they think is right, and really trying to make their voices heard, I was disappointed by the small scale of the LA march. A couple thousand people, in a city that claims approximately 10,000,000, is unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, the protest was filled with passion and energy, and I really enjoyed being there and being a part of it, but at the same time I found myself wondering “where is everybody?”

Since I was there as a press photographer, I had the job of documenting the march. I decided to do things a little differently this time. I shot photos, as usual, and some video too, but I also decided to record sound. Later listening to what I had recorded, it occurred to me that I had a new project to work on. Here is the final result. Enjoy!

On Saturday, September 29th, protesters – inspired by the recent Occupy Wall Street uprising in New York City – set up camp on the lawns of City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. Over the past week, the haphazardly organized group has grown to more than 300 campers and continues to grow.

Turning the lawns of City Hall into a stage for political debate, OccupyLA packs each day with workshops, classes, and discussion forums. The movement takes issue with corporate corruption and how that has influenced the political process and with the shift of wealth and favor towards the wealthiest 1% of the population.

“We have become of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations – people don’t matter anymore. I love our country, I just don’t like what we’ve become,” said protestor Anastasia Stewart, 78, who has been actively protesting with the occupants for the past four days.

Terry Marshall, a Music Therapy and Child Development major at California State University, Northridge camped over the weekend with a handful of her classmates. She said she believes that we (Americans) should have more of a say in what our government does and what goes on in the country. Marshall decided to camp because she is concerned with the state of the education system and believes the government should be putting more money into education.

“How can we expect kids to progress in this country without education?” said Marshall.

Since its inception in New York, the occupation movement has swept across the globe  and now includes up to 66 U.S. cities and several cities in Europe and Canada. Unlike its counterparts in New York and San Francisco, where protestors have cited multiple complaints of police brutality, the Los Angeles occupation has remained peaceful and received much support from the local police and officials.

Occupants have stated that they are not planning on vacating City Hall’s lawns anytime soon.

Goodbyes have never been my forte. I’m a crier plain and simple. Goodbyes for me are often punctuated with tears, sniffles and the occasional snot bubble. Saying goodbye to Istanbul and the people I have come to care for there was no exception. I never expected it to be so hard to leave. Perhaps because I never expected to love Istanbul as deeply as I do. Istanbul has changed me, taught me, and helped me to grow. Saying goodbye left my heart aching and my eyes puffy and red. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I had and the people I met and loved.

Returning to Los Angeles has been difficult. It really hit me for the first time as I was standing on the curb at LAX, waiting for my friend to pick me up, that I am not in Istanbul anymore. It hurts my heart. The pain of leaving the city that I have come to love so dearly to return to a city that I have never liked leaves me feeling a deep sadness. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at a clock and expected to here a Call ring out across the city or the Ramazan drums booming up and down the streets. I miss Istanbul something fierce.

I take comfort in the fact that I know in my heart that this is not the end for Istanbul and I. I will return and when I do, it will be to stay. And I remind myself that returning to Los Angeles gives me the opportunity prepare for that reunion. Goals have been set, actions are being taken and inquiries have been made, all in the name of going home to Istanbul. It will happen. My heart tells me so.

The Blue Mosque. One of the most heavily touristed mosques in Istanbul that is still used as a place of prayer.

Istikal. The major shopping promenade located in the neighborhood of Taksim. This was taken around 2am so it was unusually quiet. At anytime during the day there are thousands of people walking up and down this street.

This is a hot air balloon located in Kadaköy on the asian side of Istanbul. It takes you 200m into the air for a panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately it was too windy to operate during my time in Istanbul.

One of the things  I love about Istanbul is that the city is filled with music. This guy was performing on the street in Ankara.

One of things I don’t like about Istanbul is the disregard shown towards the disabled. Often disabled people are used as “props” on the streets (frequently by friends or family members) in order to beg for money.  This blind man was sitting alone, outside of a bar off of Istikal, drinking an muttering to himself. Nobody seemed to even notice that he was there.

I saw this little girl as I was sitting in a sidewalk cafe drinking tea. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough to catch a shot of her face. She was adorable. This was taken without me even looking through my camera. My camera was sitting on the table in front of me when I clicked the shutter.  I know it’s not sharp, but I still like it.

View of Sultanahmet taken from a ferry crossing the Bosphorus.

Another shot taken from my perch in the window of my hostel room.

The Bosphorus.

The Boy and I on our last day together. Tearful goodbyes followed.

Museum of Ethnography in Ankara. Playing with Depth of Field. Also might want to note that this pocketwatch was behind glass.

Ataturk’s Mausoleum in Ankara.

My classmate and friend Liv.

The cistern in Sultanahmet.

A playful little girl. She got a little freaked out when she noticed I was taking her picture.

More fun with depth of field at the Museum of Ethnography in Ankara.

View from Galata.

The AyaSofya. Once a mosque. Now a museum.

Museum of Ethnography in Ankara.

Heart Balloons.

AyaSofya

The Galata Tower

I shot this around 2am on a side street off of Istikal. Not sure what this little boy was roasting. He is one of thousands of children seen working the streets in Istanbul at all hours of the day or night.

I just liked the color of this boat.

The changing of the guards at Ataturk’s tomb. This is the only time you will see the guards move. Once they are in their stationed spot, they remain perfectly still. I was told that they even inject some sort of drug in order to stay so still…

Along the coast of Asia.

Take from it what you will…

A couple of Muslim women enjoying the breeze on the Bosphorus.

My heart belongs to Istanbul.

Peace and Love.

A few more sneak attack images. I will be adding to this as I shoot more.

I sat in my window for 20 minutes waiting for this woman to turn her head…

… and then I got caught.

I see this man everyday and I am dying to take a portrait of him…

More to come…

Peace and Love.

Looks like she caught me again trying to snag a photo of her. I swear I am not in the habit of stalking lil old ladies. I have just been dying to get a good picture or two of her.

I have seen this woman a few times sitting in her window and have never been quick enough to grab my camera and snap a pic of her… until now.

Peace and Love

I am staying in a hostel in Taksim for my last few days here. I have taken to sitting in my window with my camera and snapping candid snapshots of the people in my new hood. I am so loving this city. Below are some of the images I have shot during my last week. Some are from my window, some are not. All are little tastes of the things I love about this city.

There is an enormous stray cat population in Istanbul. This little guy was sitting in the doorway of the underground mosque in Karaköy.

Shot from the window of my hostel. This woman was basically doing what I was doing – watching the neighborhood go by from her window.

A couple of days ago, I took a boat ride up the Bosphorus. It was the first touristy thing I had done since my first week here. It was nice to be on the water, to see the landscapes and to watch the people relaxing.

This mother was showing her son how to feed pigeons. Feeding flocks of pigeons seems to be something that is common in every city I travel too.

One of the things that I love the most about this city are the community areas. All throughout the city are parks, squares and waterfronts where people gather, sit, drink. eat, and socialize together. Cheap outdoor entertainment that promotes community wellbeing. Love it.

Another shot from my boat ride. I love the reddish brown building.

I see this woman sitting on her balcony and watching the people below almost everyday. Her balcony is just across from my window.

There was something about this grandfather and granddaughter that I loved. I think it was the older generation caring for and guiding the younger one.

Being a predominantly Muslim country, women in head scarves are not an unusual sight. I just finally snapped a picture of one.

I find this city to be so enticing. Not just visually but in every sense. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel… I am deeply, madly in love with Istanbul. I can’t wait to live here.

Peace and Love.