Former Union Organizer Gives Occupy LA Some Bad Press

Natasha Vargas-Cooper is not just a successful freelance journalist for outlets like GQ, the Daily Beast, the New York Times and The Atlantic. She is also someone who once worked as a full-time labor organizer.

In an article today for The Awl.com entitled “The Night Occupy Los Angeles Tore Itself In Two,” she writes about disastrous Affinity and General Assembly meetings that took place on Wednesday:

By the time the General Assembly was ready to meet at 7:30 p.m., things were unraveling. A large group, made up almost entirely of men, stood in a circle denouncing the General Assembly and their efforts to “police” the camp, particularly regarding drinking or smoking weed. Anyone who spoke in favor of a code of conduct was aggressively booed.

Adding to the morass were four different men looping in and out of the circle, each armed with his own megaphone, shouting their own grievances and rhetoric… One male protester, in an army helmet and no shirt, cried out as shoving matches erupted between several groups of men. The young man who was leading the informal group yelled: “This is the People’s Forum! There are no committees, there are no rules, everyone gets to speak. Get in a circle! GET IN A CIRCLE!” A majority of the crowd abided, although they were openly chastised when the circle took on non-circle shapes.

One Occupy-er told Vargas-Cooper the downtown LA site is essentially divided into two separate sections: “hardcore Politicos-Get-Shit-Done process freaks” and “people who think they are starting a new society.” Tough to make that work, even more so at a messy downtown encampment than across a shiny conference room table.