Occupy Los Angeles came to the Valley on Thursday as students at Cal State Northridge erected a small tent city in front of the campus' Oviatt Library—joining in solidarity with the Occupy movement that started on Wall Street and is spreading nationwide.
The protest encampment was erected a day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to support the Occupy L.A. movement calling attention to what activists say is a growing gap between the nation's rich and poor.
Students are protesting dissatisfaction with the nation's economic state of affairs.
“I want a change,” said Matthew Delgado, 20, a photojournalism student. “Things are out of control. People like [CSU Chancellor] Charles Reed getting over $400,000 per year—it’s not in students' or CSUN administrators’ hands.”
Edy Alvarez, political science student and president of CSUN Greens, said he filed a field reservation form with the university to set up the tent city. He said it was approved from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“The reason for Occupy CSUN is an extension of the Occupy movement,” he said. “We need to question how we operate with governments and capitalism. We need new solutions to existing problems.”
As of midafternoon Thursday, there were just a handful of students occupying the tent city, and most tents stood empty.
“People come in and out,” said Ankur Patel, 26, an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate student.
“The fact that people are outside, talking about issues, is important,” he said. “The 1 percent write the laws. The 99 percent should write the laws. The 1 percent write the laws at the expense of the 99 percent.”
With the field reservation expiring at 10 p.m., it was unclear whether the demonstration would continue.
“It is to be determined if we are here tomorrow,” Alvarez said.
Patel said he has filed another field reservation for an indefinite period of time.
“Some say we should stay. Some say we should leave,” he said.
The resolution passed Wednesday by the City Council, sponsored by Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl, supports the "peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by 'Occupy Los Angeles.' "
An amendment by Councilman Paul Krekorian also thanked Los Angeles police for handling the demonstrations around City Hall in a professional way.
Dozens of activists who have been camping on the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall for the past 11 days addressed the council. Despite the resolution, many verbally attacked the lawmakers, accusing them of being allied with big banks and of perpetuating inequality.
"As long as you receive money from banks and corporations, you are allied with the banks," one person told the council.
Part of the resolution calls for accelerating a "responsible banking" ordinance, in which banks would be scored based on the number of home loan modifications accommodated, the number and location of branches and how they contribute to affordable housing.
The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Central City Association object to that idea.
"This proposed ordinance will not halt one foreclosure. It will cost the city money to enforce and a new bureaucracy to enforce it. It's the irresponsible banking ordinance," said Carol Schatz, president of the downtown business association.
"Like it or not, we need banks. And only large banks have the capabilities to handle this city's financial needs. You guys can't put your money under a mattress," Schatz said.
Activist David Rodwin told the council that it had been dragging its feet on the banking ordinance.
"What most people do not know, but the council members do, is that these banking regulations were presented before this council over 2 1/2 years ago," Rodwin said. "We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and this council has dragged its feet simply on taking a vote on these banking regulations, and I find that deeply irresponsible."
The council agreed to hear the banking ordinance in the Budget and Finance Committee on Nov. 21 and to discuss it before the full City Council before mid-December.
The meeting got tense when one public speaker accused the city's three black council members—Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson—of doing a poor job of representing their constituents.
Perry bristled, responding that she hoped that "you could lift people up with your words and not stereotype them, perpetuate bigotry and prejudice. You're entitled to your opinion. I am entitled to my opinion."
City News Service contributed to this report.