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LA June 18th Report

The LA June 18th Coalition composted commerce for a number of hours yesterday when downtown Los Angeles was transformed from its usual run for the dollar, to a dance of party and pleasure. A multi-cultural parade of banner holders, drummers, bike riders, ravers, and many other diverse folks took to the streets and blockaded an intersection next to the only park (Pershing Square) in downtown LA.

Banners provided the barricade and cones were spread out as a music van and 'trash' car (or the centerpiece as we like to call it) made their way into the intersection.

A truck full of an 'instant skatepark', with rails, launch ramps, and funboxes waited nearby but was unsucessful in its attempt to provide an alternative to carculture, due to the encroaching police.

As the music van was on its way to amplification, drummers provided the rhythms for dancing and creative expression. The 'trash car' was beautified with anti-capitalist slogans and the 'ass-fault' below it was strewn with fallen confetti, chalked and painted slogans, fire-crackers, and even a kiddie pool half-full of mud and water (a remarkable attempt at a mud-wrestling pool). Some folks started dancing on the 'trash' car and one woman in a biohazard suit with the slogan "Economic 'progress' is a biohazard for the planet, Hey G8, Compost not Commerce" seemed to be having loads of fun.

The first to start spray painting the car was swamped by police and became the first arrest of the day. This triggered some folks to be a bit hesitant to fully participate (this was the first RTS in Los Angeles remember!)when the music finally started thumping from the sound van. The dj was able to spin for a short time before the riot police showed up and we thought it was necessary to get the vehicle out of there before it got confiscated.

This didn't deter our spirit though. The banners still maintained an autonomous zone where whistles, drums, horns, clapping hands, chanting, and singing kept the parts of the crowd (that weren't being attacked by the police) dancing. During all this, about 4 helocopters flew overhead, getting footage of our event along with many other participants and media folks who also had video/cameras.

At this point the police really started cracking down. They pushed people onto the sidewalks on one half of the block, and into the park on the other half of the block. Our group then got divided but stayed united on each of the sides. A few people near the park area got arrested for failure to disperse and one man who was at the bus stop (bystander), who we have yet to identify, was seen struggling with the police (in an attempt to get them to stop hasseling a nearby woman) and hauled off in handcuffs. We later learned that during this scuffle a police officer's finger was broken (or so we're told) and this man now faces a felony charge with a $50,000 bail. We are in the process of determining this man's identity to help him out.

Meanwhile...parkside, police were forcing people out of the park by pushing and hitting people with their batons. The June 18th crew resisted with chants but were unable to maintain their position in the 'public' park. This actually worked to our advantage though because we were then forced to take the party into the streets again.

On the other side of the block, the j18 crew kept up the drumming and music while being pushed up the street by the police. At the top of the hill we were happily met with a line j18 crew on bikes blocking one way of traffic. We stayed here for some time then marched around the block to meet up with the others who were pushed out of the park.

On Broadway we got our second wind and came together to take over another intersection with a conga line, more music, a large banner and lots of frustrated drivers. One irate driver threatened to run folks over after a j18 fella ran onto and over her car.

On Broadway more spectators seemed to be interested in our celebration and were given information and some seemed really supportive.

As soon as the police showed up in droves we packed up and moved on down the street to the next intersection and started dancing in that one as well. Then on to another until the police had us blocked in, and we had to call for an immediate dispersal so that they couldn't make a mass arrest. People fled in all directions while the riot police moved in. Twelve people who escaped through a parking structure got arrested on the other side when they came out and everyone else made their way back home.

Jail support for the arrestees has been great. No one has been left to fend for themselves. In all there were 17 arrests, 7 minors who were let out to their parents, and 10 adults, all let out on bail except the one we have yet to identify.

The police kept several blocks in downtown LA blocked for a few hours after the RTS dispersed, keeping up the good work we started. They had the bomb squad come out because they feared the 'trash' vehicle was full of explosives (even though we were dancing on it!), but they might have just brought them out because of our firecrackers, who knows?

June 18th in LA was a success. There's a lot to learn from. We didn't realize the police would already be there in full force right away. At first we were a bit weary of going ahead with it all with such tight surveilance, but we did it, surprised the fuck out of 'em and made waves in the usually calm waters of corporate LA. People had a hell of a time getting into their skyrise office buildings and instead were forced to witness the amazing and creative capabilities of the few.

We were all very pleased and ready to come back next year full force. This has been very inspirational and seems to have brought the LA underground movements into a new space of connection and interdependance. Thanks to everyone for manifesting this day.

We had digital video cameras there, but don't know for sure if we can get it on the internet. We'll see.

In solidarity
LA Jun18th Coaltion

J18 Global Action Day |