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"Chalkupy" event in Pershing Square remains peaceful

By Omar Shamout
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, at 12:59AM

A "Chalkupy" participant writes slogans on a wall in Pershing Square / Omar Shamout

Downtown breathed a sigh of relief last night as Occupy L.A. activists lived up to last week’s promise and kept their “Chalkupy” event confined to Pershing Square during the Downtown Art Walk.

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting spot at the Square throughout the day, with members of Occupy Oakland and the activist group “Fresh Juice Party” joining Occupy LA and others to draw murals and write political slogans such as “Impeach Carmen Trutanich” and “Art 4 Art’s Sake,” among countless others. (Trutanich is the L.A. City Attorney.) Performance artists and musicians were scattered around the area too and contributed to the predominantly festive mood.

LAPD maintained a heavy presence, but told KPCC they were happy to let people express themselves within Pershing Square as long as they didn’t present a “direct threat to public safety.”

Tensions were raised heading into this evening’s event as police made two arrests Thursday morning. Word had also spread throughout the day that members of Occupy Oakland might be planning a march to the Art Walk. Some LAPD officers and Occupy L.A. activists told Blogdowntown they expected that to occur, while others said they hadn’t heard anything of the sort.

When asked if they planned to march towards Spring Street, one Oakland chalker said that not everyone who traveled to Pershing Square from the Bay Area was a member of Occupy, nor do they act as a collective unit.

“Fresh Juice Party” member Naomi Pitcairn said her group, which traveled to L.A. by bus, was just planning to “have fun … and go with the flow.” She added that they were trying to “get as many people back on the bus tomorrow as possible.” The organization describes itself on its website as a “politically progressive media group.”

Richard Florence, the Occupy L.A. member who organized last month’s Chalk Walk, was sporting crutches after an accident at his home and said he and others in his group were not planning on marching anywhere or causing any trouble.

“Be nice to everybody today,” Florence told the assembled crowd.

Florence apologized to Downtown business owners and residents last week for the disturbance caused at the last Art Walk.

As the night wore on, Art Walk itself was bustling, but Commander Andrew Smith of the LAPD said the crowd was actually a little smaller than normal. Overall Smith said he was very pleased with how the evening went.

“So far it’s fantastic. We haven’t made a single arrest,” Smith said.

Smith said he hopes Occupy will continue to steer clear of the Art Walk, because the department had to increase personnel to prepare for any potential disturbances.

“It starts to get expensive for the city to have all these extra police out here,” Smith said. “When we move police Downtown … we’re taking them from someplace else.”


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