Health a factor in shutting down Occupy LA

A nasty cough had been circulating the Occupy Los Angeles camp outside of city hall in Los Angeles, and living conditions had been steadily declining throughout the month of November. Originally the idea was that the camp would clean up their mess, but that idea turned sour, and trash littered the area around the former tent city outside city hall after LAPD shut down the Occupy LA camp Wednesday morning Nov. 30.

The once lush green grass outside of city hall has now turned to mud.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the deadline to protesters at a Friday press conference in front of city hall of 12:01 a.m., Monday Nov. 28, effectively giving Occupy LA protesters the weekend to pack up and move their tents out of the park.

The protesters had refused to leave, so authorities couldn't clean up the mess until the recent eviction.

Villaraigosa cited health concerns as the number one reason for eviction, and along with Police Chief Charlie Beck, announced that the park would be closed and reopened for public access once it had been cleaned.

This decree to "clean up" the park is currently being enforced after the early morning Nov. 30 shutdown.

"There is a concern when it comes to health," said Jimmy, a 20-year-old community college student who declined to provide his last name. "People are coughing around each other and everybody lives close together here. That means that we're all susceptible to illness."

Jimmy wore a mask and hospital gloves in order to limit the contamination.

But his age group wasn't the only one involved in the Occupy LA movement.

Many homeless, who normally live on Skid Row on South Alameda and 6th St., had migrated over to city hall and joined the movement, sharing the space outside of city hall.

"They are the neglected people of our society, and part of the injustice that people are involved in," said Jenny, a registered nurse who runs a wellness tent in front of city hall (she also declined to provide her last name). "These are the reasons why social services and medical are rising up against and fighting for money to supply more services to the most vulnerable of populations."

Jenny operated under the Good Samaritan Law, and this allowed her to attend to people who had scrapes and bruises.

She also provided other services to Occupy LA protesters that had been camping around city hall.

"If someone needs some Vitamin C because they have a cold or if they need an emergency blanket, we provide that," Jenny said.

Jenny explained that people were aware that her tent wasn't a hospital, and that the tent didn't provide medical care.

"Medical issues are being dealt with here versus Skid Row," said Jenny. "The fire chief has come to our tent and shook our hand and told us that basically we have an emergency hospital at the sidewalk for us."

Recent state budget cuts to courts have been causing the normal legal proceedings that people go through when their home is in foreclosure to slow down causing banks to repossess houses by default.

According to a recent ABC news consumer report by Bill McGuire, "Some 29, 240 default notices were reported in California in October."

As winter approaches, along with colder weather, and more homeless, more people had been expected to get sick, and that had some people in the community worried.

In order to combat the spread the disease, Jenny had gone into each encampment and interacted with the small communities that had banded together in protest against the social injustice they believe to be occurring in California.

"I identify people who are possibly getting sick and I make sure that I am monitoring people, and if somebody has a cold and needs access to health care, that we will provide free medicines," said Jenny who made it clear that her organization had needed donations in the form of rolling gauze, medical tape, Vitamin C, cough drops, and herbal tea. "We don't supply anything that has something drowsy in it."

While health and social situations had deteriorated around the people taking a stand against what they believe to be faulty government, the once green grass the protestors stood on followed suite and has quickly turned to mud.

"There are tents on the lawn and we are dealing with it," said Jimmy, who acknowledged that the Occupy LA protesters presence was killing the grass.

"We all know that if you put stuff over the grass, then the grass will eventually die and cause a bunch of dirt to take its place."

Regardless of the declining health and deteriorating living conditions, the Occupy LA protesters had remained adamant in their cause, and solidified around the theme of social injustice that is occurring to, as one protester's shirt read, "99" percent of the population.