A festival, a rebellion, an awakening

"It's very exciting to witness this," said Nkrumah, who appreciates that so many youngsters are doing something other than staying home and watching television.

Nkrumah, 57, said he was following the news about Occupy Wall Street last month when he decided Los Angeles needed its own stage. He and Mario Brito, an unemployed union organizer, helped organize the occupation, and Nkrumah liked City Hall as a location because he wanted a conversation in the town square.

"I said the first night if we had 500 people march and 50 camp out, I'd be happy," said Brito. "It was about 5,000 marchers and 100 camping out."

Going forward, though, Nkrumah said, the demonstrators will need to plan more specific "actions" such as marches and occupations at the doorsteps of the region's financial behemoths if they want to have a real impact. And they need to recruit far more people to the cause — enough to begin influencing public policy in the coming months and years. Campaign finance reform, limits on foreclosures, higher taxes on the 1%, greater investment in education, and economic and social justice — those are the goals.

Kat Knox-Davies, a 21-year-old Westwood resident and book shop clerk who moved into a tent on the first day and hasn't left, thinks the protests have a future.

"This is a lot of people waking up at the same time, and the start of a very long movement," she said. For her, many of the nation's economic and political problems can be pegged to one thing:

"Corporate influence in government."

I'm happy to report that the sprinklers did not go on. But that doesn't mean that sleep came easily. After I crawled into my tent some time after 1 a.m., I could still hear the voices of revolution all around me.

In the morning, I limbered up with a stroll around the block reading signs: "We Are Not Overthrowing a Democracy, We Are Restoring One," said one. Another quoted Steve Jobs: "The People Who Are Crazy Enough to Think They Can Change the World Are the Ones That Do."

Along the way I bumped into Brito, who was rested and ready to fight again. The movement is young, he told me, and it'll take a while to coalesce.

"It's messy," he said. "It's democracy."

Photos: 'Occupy' protests

steve.lopez@latimes.com

BLOGS

Jump to a blog