Mother of two solders holds flag upside down ("distress call") with sign "Bank Owned" at today's rally of Occupy Orange County. All photos © Daniel C. Tsang 2011
In a historic first, the occupation of Orange County has begun! Today, hundreds of people marched to Irvine's financial district to protest corporate greed and political corruption while finally encamping on the grass lawn in front of Irvine Civic Center at Jamboree and Harvard. Befitting Irvine's new reputation as a city that welcomes all nationalities, the protesters ranged from children to senior citizens, of many ethnicities.
Speakers at a rally and open mike included UC Irvine History Prof. Mark Levine (pictured), who read a poem from an Egyptian poet at Egypt's Tahir Square during earlier protests there. Levine said that the latter had given Rage against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello the poem to read at the protests in Madison, Wisconsin, earlier this year. Those protests, Levine said. led to the current spate of protest occupations. Levine, with the poet's permission, he said, inserted Irvine into the poem.
Later, Levine's son, Alessandro (below) just 10, captivated the crowd on the piano while singing various songs. Other speakers included several unemployed and one who exhorted to crowd to stop consuming so much (e.g. iPhones).
Another speaker revealed that organizers had earlier met with Santa Ana police, who insisted that there could be no camping there. Hence, instead of Santa Ana, with a large Latino population, the protesters chose Irvine, Orange County's "financial center" as one rally speaker called it, to be the site for Occupy Orange County.
Tonight some protesters are expected to begin camping overnight, but protesters are urged to stay "within the letter of the law" until things are worked out with Irvine authorities, including the serving of food, portable toilet facilities etc. Until then, only packaged food can be distributed and an adjacent park offers toilet facilities until 11 p.m. Since cars parked in the city lot (maximum two hours) can theoretically be towed away, a rally speaker urged protesters to have someone drop them off if they were to camp out overnight.
Note: Irvine Councilman Larry Agran was nowhere to be seen, nor were any uniformed cops.
Stay tuned for more developments (and more pictures etc.).