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"This Is Scary" my arrest at Occupy Los Angeles

I have just learned of a $2.45 million settlement between the City of Los Angeles and lawyers representing the nearly 300 people who were arrested at the Occupy Los Angeles protests during the 2 am hour of Nov. 30, 2011.  I was one of them.  I understand this means I may receive some money from the city. This would be a form of justice for two reasons: (1) the ordeal detailed below, and (2) Lord knows I've paid the City of LA enough money in parking tickets. This is the account I wrote a few days after my release from jail, with photos I shot with my phone. That first one — click to enlarge — was shot moments before I was arrested as a wall of militarized police marched toward me.    Human beings do not soon forget encounters with law enforcement. Officers with lethal weapons empowered to take away your freedom are going to leave an impression, even on a routine traffic stop, and all the more so during incidents where there are thousands of confrontations and hundreds of arrests. During my detention following the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) raid on the Occupy LA camp at LA City Hall, I was charged with a crime (failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly) for the first time in my life. I came into contact with dozens of police officers, sheriffs deputies, and detention officers. Some left a positive impression on me; some not so positive. Most of my time in jail was spent talking to Occupy LA protesters and their supporters who, like me, got swept up in the November 29, 2011 raid. I had no intention of getting arrested. In fact, I took steps not to be arrested so that I could document the event from start to finish. As it turned out, I watched the police raid wind down from the LA County Sheriffs Department bus you see in a photo below, which I shot hours earlier with no idea I'd soon be locked inside it. Continue reading

Awakening the "We the People" Within

We had a simple question when Eric Byler and I began our journey around the country with Story of America: Why have we become so divided as a nation and how can we become more united? As I watched the video of our interview with James Morgan of Bakersville, NC, a mining town in the Appalachian Mountains, I finally recognized what really propelled this journey. It wasn't some academic answer to my question; it was something deeply personal.  Continue reading

Sustaining a Lifetime of Movement: Advice From the Young at Heart

Today a friend in the justice movement texted me these words: "Happy New Year. I'm depressed." In trying to offer some advice, I summarized the remarks quoted below, which had made me feel better about life.     Continue reading

Divide between communities and police

As you know, Story of America aims to create greater understanding and civil engagement on divisive issues. One of our goals for 2015 is to create better dialogue between communities and law enforcement. We were able to contribute to the dialogue in Prince William County through our critically acclaimed documentary project 9500 Liberty, the youtube series and the feature film. This is the trailer for the film.  Continue reading

Donate in the next 5 days and get an awesome t-shirt!

Dear friends,  We're more than half way to reaching our goal of raising $25,000 with ten days left of our campaign. We have $11,166 to go. To help us reach our goal, a talented artist and designer, Daniel Marquez, created this striking t-shirt for our supporters with the timely message, "Awaken the We the People Within."   Continue reading