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"Saving LA" Event a Grab Bag of Causes

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, July 14, 2008, at 09:39PM
Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Speakers at Monday's "Saving LA" event on City Hall's South Lawn were invited to bring their favorite causes.

At noon today on City Hall's South Lawn, a crowd gathered to show their support for "Saving LA" and "Taking Back Los Angeles." The event, organized by Ron Kaye, had the air of political open mic night. Loosely organized around the idea of reducing the power of special interests, the event called to mind the "soapbox orators" that once filled Pershing Square.

Roughly 75 people turned out for the noon event, set on Bastille Day. Most clustered on the shady side of the podium.

Some brought signs, others just a couple minutes of speech. Some had issues with the city, others just issues located in the city: the signs set up behind the podium were filled with criticism of the Autry's handling of the Southwest Museum.

Regardless of one's view of its merit -- and certainly there was a wide spectrum of that among the causes present -- it was fun to see a Downtown open space full of political discourse. Pershing Square once had quite the history of such dialogue. In 1948 the City Council considered whether it could ban "soapbox orators" from the park, before deciding that it could not.

On June 19th, 1953, a crowd of 300 chased orator Irwin Edelman into the Biltmore coffee shop after he took to the corner of 5th and Hill to argue for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted in 1951 of giving atomic secrets to the Soviets. The Times account includes this gem from LAPD Officer R.N. Olson, who escorted Edelman out of the hotel:

Although Edelman has spoken in Pershing Square many times, this was the first occasion in which he has been chased by an audience, Officer Olson said.

Today's South Lawn events came nowhere near approaching that level of drama.

SEE ALSO: Take Back Our City Rally Report: Plenty of Anti-Development Signs (Curbed LA)

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