Occupy Long Beach Leaves Lincoln Park, Will Use January Meetings in Bixby Park to "Restructure"

Lincoln Park (Long Beach, CA) Nov 27, 2011, Photo by Greggory Moore
10:00am | It remains to be seen whether Occupy Long Beach will resume physically being an occupying presence -- be it in Bixby Park, where the group's daily General Assemblies are now being held, or elsewhere -- but the Occupation of Lincoln Park has ended two-and-a-half months after it began.

"Frankly, the continued Occupation of Lincoln Park was not tenable," group member Demos told the Long Beach Post Wednesday. "People don't like to admit it, but part of attracting people is being in a place they find attractive."

Demos says that while initially Occupy Long Beach hoped to maintain a large enough presence at Lincoln Park to change the park's atmosphere, on the whole too few OLBers were able and/or willing to stay on-site to keep a continuing Occupation there viable.

"Lincoln Park is a tough park," Demos says.

On Tuesday, OLB came to a consensus that, until further notice, the group's daily General Assemblies (or GAs) will be held in Bixby Park on Monday-Friday @ 7:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday @ 4 p.m.

Demos says OLB's process of deciding to change location and course was far smoother and less contentious than the corresponding process leading to the original choice of Lincoln Park for the Occupation.

"I'm proud of how far we've come," he says.

According to Demos, Bixby Park was chosen as the group's new epicenter for several reasons, including its level of foot traffic, its being a "highly-utilized park" for both public and private events, and its being located in a "reasonably diverse neighborhood" -- as well as its atmospheric desirability.

"We want it to be visible, we want it to be easy to get there, and we want people to want to be there," Demos says.

But more important than the location -- or even whether OLB should resume a strategy of 24-hour physical occupation of anywhere at all, an issue they will visit at Thursday night's GA -- is what the group does.

"It's not all about where we Occupy," says Demos, "it's about what we do there. […] Some like to point out that 'occupy' is a verb."

Whatever they do, Demos says it appears the City is less willing to engage in the process than it had promised, noting that "absolutely nothing, zero" has come in the way of the "ongoing dialog" that was supposedly to take place between the City and Occupy Long Beach after City Manager Pat West compiled a council-ordered report on "on the practices of other cities to accommodate the Occupy protestors, and a discussion of options the City may consider to provide a free-speech zone or other means to address the issue" without obtaining OLB input.

"My understanding is that they [i.e., the City] have not engaged with us [since the report was issued] whatsoever," Demos says. "I think they look at the size of our group and think, 'I don't really have to listen to them right now.' […] Those folks who were supposed to deal with us clearly do not want to deal with us."

Demos says OLB's focus in January -- "a restructuring period" -- will not be its physical locus, but community engagement, whether through classes, demonstrations, or "literally knocking on doors."

"Our primary focus right now is outreach -- engaging with Long Beach, engaging with the 99%, finding out about what they'd like to see changed in the city," Demos says. "And to test in the court of public opinion whether people think things are bad enough to get active. […] But if the Citizens United decision, the Patriot Act, the NDAA [viz.National Defense Authorization Act], the bank bailouts, etc., aren't a big deal and people still want to sit at home on their couch watching TV, then maybe there shouldn't be an Occupation."

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