Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Councilmember Gabelich Confirms Interceding on Behalf of Occupy Long Beach

by Greggory Moore
10:30am | Councilmember Rae Gabelich has confirmed that Occupy Long Beach reached her Saturday with word of police plans to confiscate OLB property, that the city council had not been informed of any such plans, and that she took steps to intervene on OLB's behalf.

The Long Beach Police Department, meanwhile, has so far declined to comment on their original plans and whether those plans were altered, as well as on why police were more tolerant of OLB's civil disobedience Sunday than they had been previously.

Gabelich tells the Long Beach Post that when OLB acquainted her with their understanding of LBPD plans, "I reached out to [City Manager] Pat West and told him, 'This wasn't what we asked for you to do.' … [He] said, 'No, there's got to be a miscommunication there. That is not the instruction, and I will verify that with Chief McDonnell' … [and] that he would call me back if they were planning that. I never heard back from him, so I assumed [the police] were not going to do that."

According to OLB, at 4:00pm Sunday, the LBPD and the group came to an understanding that if OLB made an effort to eliminate some of what had been accumulated, police would not confiscate any property. OLB did as asked, and not only was no property confiscated, but police responded to OLB's gathering of roughly 80 persons with only six officers, who made no serious effort to clear Lincoln Park after 10:00pm, leaving the scene by 10:30pm with the park still heavily occupied.

Gabelich has been consistent in her support for OLB -- it was her motion at the November 15 city council meeting that called for a report to council "on the practices of other cities to accommodate the Occupy protestors, and a discussion of options the City may consider to provide a free-speech zone or other means to address the issue" -- but she says a clean Occupation "to me is a big deal."

She notes, however, that while some other cities' Occupations have been unsanitary, her understanding is that this is a non-issue with OLB.

One thing Gabelich does not say is that Lincoln Park is necessarily the right place for our Occupation.

"I know they want to stay there, and that to them 'occupy' means to spend 24-hours-a-day there," she says. "Well, maybe in the end that isn't going to be what's possible. But they certainly need a place to gather. … I support what they're doing, and hopefully we can find a place for them to gather that gets their message out to the public. … The whole country is having this experience. And there are people that say they believe in the cause but don't understand the message (or lack of a message); or there are those that say they appreciate the cause, 'but not in my backyard.' I don't think we should be among the NIMBYs."

Noting that OLB has informed her that, despite the city council's explicit instructions, its members have not been consulted in the compilation of the above-mentioned report, Gabelich is not completely satisfied that to date the council's will is being carried out.

"'We gave you the mission to come back with some ideas, and you haven't even met with these people yet,'" Gabelich reports saying to West. "And he said they were working within the department first to come up with some ideas, they would be meeting with [OLB] this week, and [the council] should have what asked for by the end of the week. … He said the holiday had [interfered with the process], and I said, 'Wait a minute, Pat -- it's been two weeks.' So he knows that we're all looking at him, expecting … some kind of a solution. This week will tell the story."

West did not immediately reply to the Long Beach Post's request for comment.

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