Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Orange County - Day 3: Petition Seeks Right to Encamp

Occupy Orange County is now entering its third night after hassles from Irvine police the first night. According to Occupy Orange County, Irvine police, after promising the protesters they could stay overnight on the sidewalks, but not the lawn, in a classic "bait and switch", at 10 p.m. Saturday, after forcing them to move from the lush green lawn, insisted they could not sleep on the sidewalk after all. Police told them they must keep walking all night on the concrete sidewalk surrounding the grass.

Alessandro Levine sings on the piano; author in silhouette on Day 1 of Occupy OC. Photo copyright Daniel C. Tsang 2011

Does Irvine police intend to inflict torture on the protesters? This is akin to what Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai once told me, that he was forced to stand for hours on end while incarcerated by Chinese authorities in Beijing. That is really painful.

Of course, the Occupy OC protesters managed to sneak in some rest, since after all, they are not in prison or under constant surveillance. But does Irvine want to be known as a police state whereby it quashes any dissent from citizens and residents who just want to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest?

Indeed that's what the organizers of Occupy OC now say, that they don't need a permit, the First Amendment is all they need to encamp in Irvine. Also, the excuse the police gave that sleeping on the sidewalk would impede pedestrian traffic overnight is specious. No one is up that late except the protesters and the occasional police drive-bys.

Meanwhile, a legal representative of the protesters has sent a letter (redacted online) to the Irvine police, protesting its turnaround.

Tents went up again during the daylight, but the situation seems at a stalemate, with the police refusing to budge. An online petition has been set up, asserting the protesters' rights to peacefully assemble. It boldly proclaims "OUR PERMIT TO OCCUPY PUBLIC SQUARES AND PARKS IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT, which affirms 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances'." As of late Monday, over 460 people had signed, some anonymously. Signatory 453 Christina Weidner, wrote: "Please let us continue our demonstration in a peaceful, dignat, respectful manner! Respect us, as we respect you! There is no harm in allowing us this privilege! Thank you!" After all, the Irvine police web site declares respect as one of its defining attributes.

Today, on Day 3, the organizers appealed to Orange Countians to "get involved". The protesters aren't calling it quits and assert they are "committed to keeping the encampment" at the Irvine Civic Center, Alton and Harvard.

See also the latest updates from OC Weekly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Orange County - Day 1

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

Subversity Online bring's you audio from today's rally: click on: .

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.).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Director Stephane Gauger on "Saigon Electric"

To listen this our interview with director Stephane Gaugher in this special online edition of KUCI's Subversity program recorded 1 October 2011, click on: .

Orange County film director Stephane Gauger (right) has an interesting background. Born in Saigon, he was raised in a French Vietnamese family so became well versed in both Vietnamese and French cultures.

He brings to Orange County and across the big screen nationally October 7 a new film on Saigon's hip hop phenomenon, focusing on the stories of two young dancers, Kim, a street-smart girl into hip hop, and the other, Mai, a traditional ribbon dancer aiming to get into Hanoi's prestigious dance academy.

In case you think this is all too sweet and syruppy, there is an element of tension involving outside developers (perhaps predictably from Taiwan). The government bureaucrat overseeing culture, meanwhile, is depicted as someone with a humane heart. That's because, says, Gauger, he prefers to paint a positive spin on things in Vietnam. Which is one reason the censors cleared his film with no problems.

Gauger has a keen eye for capturing youth vitality and exuberance and he mixes in American culture with Vietnamese (for example, he notes in the interview that Vietnamese hip hop dancers just perform for fun, not, like in America, for donations).

Saigon Electric, fast-paced and frenetic, shot in just a month or so, gets its commercial screening in OC October 7 at Edwards University Center, across from the UC Irvine main campus. It hopes to screen for four weeks! This is your chance to catch and watch something different about Vietnam.

In this special olnline edition of KUCI's Subversity program, show host Daniel C. Tsang is the interviewer.

SAIGON ELECTRIC (US Teaser) from Anderson Le on Vimeo.