Occupy Orange County's Protest Courts Disaster

The dying movement turns into a song-and-dance routine

Whoever is right about the movement's future, it's clear things are in transition, and whatever emerges—weekly marches, think tanks or general assemblies—it won't be an occupation. The end of that phase occurred in late November, after weeks of raids and mass arrests across the country. Then, in the local occupations in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 12, when as many as 300 activists attempted to shut down the Port of Long Beach following the raid on Occupy Los Angeles.

The goal was to create a community picket line and hinder traffic in and out of the busy SSA Terminal, partly owned by Goldman Sachs. As protesters faced off with riot gear-clad police officers, shadowed by Coast Guard and Harbor Patrol boats, little vehicle traffic came into or left the dock gate. For a moment, it looked like success was Occupy's.

But as cops slowly inched people back to where they started, one man looked across the docks, dejected.

"My friend, we went down the wrong road," he said as he pointed to a truck rolling across a bridge in the distance. "That's where we were supposed to be."

As the sun set on the Reagan Courthouse on Jan. 20, a small group of die-hards huddled near the building's entrance. As one strummed an acoustic guitar, hollow lyrics rang out for almost nobody to hear: "We will occupy the streets, we'll occupy the courts, we'll occupy the office of you—till you do the bidding of the many, not the few."

Standing nearby, Santa Ana occupier Edith Gonzalez, a twentysomething activist who was arrested in the Los Angeles raid, resisted questions about the dismal showing and did her best to put a positive spin on the day. "I honestly thought it was going to be bigger," she said. "It's not happening here, but shit is going down in Oakland and San Francisco. . . . It doesn't surprise me—it's fucking Orange County."

She paused for a second, then added, "It's our location. But you can't not do something because of where you're at. You've got to try. And we're going to keep on trying."

 

This article appeared in print as "Courting Disaster: Occupy Orange County failed to take the Reagan Courthouse last week. So what's next?"

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