December 1, 2011

LA Occupiers’ Defiance Is National News at AP; Their 25 Tons of Disgusting Filth Isn’t

It appears that cleanup crews around the country aren’t the only ones engaging in sanitation exercises in the wake of the largely disbanded Occupy encampments around the country.

At the Associated Press, which made the goings-on in the waning days of Occupy LA national news, the aftermath is apparently just a local or regional story. Here’s a list of results at the AP’s national site of a search on “occupy Los Angeles” (not in quotes):


There’s one AP story which ought to be getting national distribution which isn’t, and it concerns the unspeakably disgusting conditions authorities and workers uncovered as they cleaned up the Occupy LA camp site aka pig sty (which is really being unfair to pigs). But at the Essential Global News Network, it’s not worthy of national coverage. Beyond that, the AP in a later report sanitized an early somewhat more graphic one describing what was found.

Here are portions of that earlier report, which Weasel Zippers and other blogs found and excerpted yesterday but which I could only find in its original form at one site this evening (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Occupy LA’s legacy: Stench, trash, property damage

Trash, flattened tents and the stench of urine were the legacy of Occupy Los Angeles on Wednesday after hundreds of protesters were arrested or chased out of their City Hall park encampment.

City crews erected chain link fence and concrete barricades around the park at dawn, six hours after 1,400 police officers swarmed the area.

Later in the morning, police officers in white hazardous materials suits prowled the park in search of personal belongings to store for retrieval by protesters.

“A lot of this stuff is contaminated with urine and feces and who knows what,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

The encampment turned the once-lush City Hall lawns into patches of dirt strewn with tons of debris — clothing, tents, bedding, shoes, trash and other human flotsam that accumulated during the past two months.

Apparently there wasn’t an accurate tonnage count available at the time of the earlier report. To its credit, the wire service’s Robert Jablon filled in that detail in a later report, and the wire service’s original headline remained. But a couple of other putrid details fell away, particularly the direct mention of “hazardous materials suits” and Commander Smith’s “contaminuted with urine and feces” quote. I thought expanded write-ups were generally supposed to keep original details and, well, expand on them. Additionally, in what I guess was the interest of fairness, Jablon found someone who actually blamed the police for the mess.

Here are several paragraphs from Jablon’s dispatch:

The reek of urine and unwashed bodies hung over the former Occupy Los Angeles camp Wednesday as masked sanitation workers hauled away 25 tons of debris from the barren lawns around City Hall.

Collapsed and overturned tents, scattered bedding, paperback books, bicycles, shoes, food and other belongings were tossed by shovel or pitchfork into trash trucks after a small army of police peacefully swarmed the nearly two-month encampment. City officials who had tolerated the economic protest for weeks had finally declared the area a health and safety hazard earlier in the week.

Crews set up concrete barriers and chain-link fencing around the sea of debris and dirt that used to be grass. Left behind was a sea of belongings. Frontloaders scooped up larger items, including wooden cabinets.

“It’s so contaminated, it doesn’t even make sense to sort it out,” said Jose “Pepe” Garcia, 49, superintendent of the city’s north central sanitation district.

A dozen city sanitation workers were suited up in white coveralls, gloves and boots after reports that there might be a lice or flea infestation, Garcia said.

However, one former occupant blamed the police raid for trashing the tent city.

Samantha Schrepel, 27, stood by a stroller containing her 5-month-old son, Kenny, on the sidewalk in front of the fenced-off lawn and chatted with police officers guarding the site.

Schrepel had been staying in the tent city but was elsewhere when it was raided. Her tent, warm blankets and other items were being trashed as she watched.

“It’s a mess,” she said. “When I was there, my area was always clean. We had people who swept the sidewalks. I think everything got crushed in the chaos.”

Am I to believe Ms. Schrepel was in Occupy LA with a five month-old? Yikes; if the kid’s okay, it would seem to be almost a miracle.

But the AP, knowing it has to cover a story like this but still determined to help the Occupy movement avoid as much embarrassment as possible, still makes sure that as little of the nation as possible knows the true extent of the disgusting post-event situation in Los Angeles. How pathetic.

Cross-posted at


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