Occupy L.A. gets new message boards

Since the first days of Occupy L.A., protesters have used posters, paintings and hand-printed T-shirts to call for major political and economic change.

On Tuesday, demonstrators turned to new canvases: two large wooden box-like fences the city built to protect a historic fountain and memorial to fallen firefighters outside City Hall.

Shortly after the structures went up Tuesday morning, protesters took to them with spray paint, scrawling pictures and slogans. On the fence barricading the fountain, someone wrote “No Borders” and “Power 2 the People.”

The white marble fountain was built in 1933 and restored in 2006. It is dedicated to Frank Putnam Flint, a United States senator who helped spur construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Since protesters first set up tents outside of City Hall last month, the fountain has served as a kind of symbolic center of camp. It’s a common meeting place, and the nightly general assembly meetings are held at its base.


During one recent meeting, two demonstrators climbed to the top of the fountain and sat there, meditating. Later, protesters hung a screen on the fountain and projected a documentary movie.

To protect the memorials — which had been vandalized with chalk graffiti — city crews installed the fences Tuesday morning, according to a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The city is OK with the graffiti, so long as it stays on the fences, Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said. “They’re allowed to do that,” he said.

In other Occupy news, the head of a powerful coalition of labor unions said in a statement Tuesday that her group supports the continuation of Occupy L.A.

Maria Elena Durazo, of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, also reminded city lawmakers of the resolution they passed last month in support of the demonstration, and called on city leaders to work closely with protesters going forward.

“Los Angeles can be an example of how people and civic institutions can work together to protect individual freedoms and express our democracy,” Durazo said. Last week, Mayor Villaraigosa said the current encampment “cannot continue indefinitely” and said the city is looking to possibly move the protest to another location because of damage to the 1.7 acre park surrounding City Hall.