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Economic protesters take to the streets in L.A.

'Occupy LA' demonstrators march from Pershing Square to City Hall to call attention to policies they say benefit the richest 1% of Americans.

October 01, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
  • Chaim Gilan of Echo Park participates in a rally at City Hall organized by the group Occupy LA.
Chaim Gilan of Echo Park participates in a rally at City Hall organized by… (Christina House, For the…)

Stephen Maranzano had a long list of concerns: the war in the Middle East, corporate tax breaks, rising unemployment and the fact that he's working three part-time jobs and still barely makes ends meet.

"I don't know if we can be successful in changing all of that, but we have to do what we can," said the 58-year-old Costa Mesa resident, who gathered with several hundred fellow demonstrators Saturday afternoon outside Los Angeles City Hall.

The protest was organized by a group called Occupy LA and is modeled after a similar movement in New York that has been staging a sit-in on Wall Street for almost two weeks. Most participants say they hope to change or expose economic polices that benefit the richest 1% of Americans.

Photos: 'Occupy LA' protest

Like their Manhattan counterparts, the Los Angeles protesters said they plan to camp out by City Hall indefinitely or until they draw enough attention to their cause. Other protests have been springing up around the world, including in Cleveland and Australia.

"In the end, what we want to do is inspire working-class people to get involved in the political process," said Adam Liszkiewics, a 32-year-old USC graduate student.

The protesters began marching toward City Hall from Pershing Square about 10 a.m. and were accompanied by Los Angeles police officers who briefly stopped traffic at intersections for the marchers.

Crowd members waved signs, including one that read "The Banks Ate My Baby," and chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, corporate welfare's got to go."

A group of about 15 volunteers helped coordinate the event by getting permits and working with the Los Angeles Police Department, although no one would claim the title of being the group's leader.

"It's all about keeping your ego in check," said Mario Brito, one of the main volunteers. "It's a collective effort."

At City Hall, protesters set up an open microphone and speakers took turns urging each other to take action against government policies, pressure lawmakers and, perhaps most important, not destroy property or engage in any violent acts.

"We are committed to keeping this place nicer than we found it," Liszkiewics said.

Several said they had been affected by the slumping economy.

Michael Tangney, a 55-year-old Anaheim resident who repairs and sells vintage jukeboxes for a living, said he used to make about $50,000 a year until the recession.

"I've made one service call in the last month and I made a whopping $300," he said, holding a "Regulate the Sociopaths on Wall St." sign. "My clientele is middle-class working people, and they don't have any money."

Maranzano said that he works three part-time jobs, including putting up real estate signs and delivering newspapers, but that he may lose his employment at a warehouse in Fountain Valley.

"I've got to start looking again," he said.

Photos: 'Occupy LA' protest

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