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Scenes from Occupy Irvine

I went down to Irvine’s Civic Center Plaza to catch “Occupy Irvine” for myself.  There were between 200 and 250 protesters there and everyone assured me the movement would only grow as the day progressed.  But I only had an hour.  There was no mistaking the energy of the 99 percent — those lining the Streets at the corner of Harvard and Alton.  The signs were thoughtful, the crowd a mixture of young and old, some with entire families all speaking out against corporate greed.

Created with flickr slideshow.
The folks running the microphones were a tad unorganized.  OJ editor Vern Nelson and Santa Ana artist Theo Hirsch tried several times to get the crowd excited but the response was — flat.  It almost reminded me of the Dream Act Protest at the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim (if fact, if you read Vern Nelson’s account of the organizational screw ups leading to the event, you’ll see exactly what I mean–sometimes a leadersless movement is a ruderless one).   The best mini speech came from a UCI professor tired of seeing students graduate with $50,000 in debt; she insisted college educations should be a right and she perhaps had the most passion of any of the speakers.

Make no mistake, the real energy of the morning came from those lining the streets.  They were pumped, well-spoken and the traffic that drove by in minivans, Hondas, Ford and Toyotas were honking in agreement.  Somehow, there’s needs to be a better connection between those on the street corner and those on the stage.

There is Livestream video from Occupy Irvine

Watch live streaming video from occupyocirvine at







  1. Chip D Chip D October 15, 2011

    Dan, you should have stayed a bit longer- the crowd grew to around 1,000 as we marched to The District at Barranca and Jamboree

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | October 15, 2011

      Chip — the District is in Tustin. Was there an OccupyTustin event today?

  2. henry lipton henry lipton October 15, 2011

    Ive only been to the one in orange. I havent seen alot of signs or talk about the IMF and WTO. Those two organizations are the only common thread I can see as unifying all the occupy groups worldwide. These groups as well as NAFTA and the subsequent free trade areas have all been the root of this chaos in thge economies worldwide. Replace the tarriffs, and dismantle the free trade areas and the economy will stabilize worldwide.

  3. Steve Steve October 16, 2011

    Not only were Fords, Toyotas, and Hondas honking, but cars of all sorts were supporting us. Lexus, Mercedes, even a Bentley.

    It shows people of all walks of life understand how money has corrupted our democracy.

    As for being a tad bit unorganized, so what. The Organizers were average Americans standing up against a gross injustice. This might have been their first time getting up and speaking out. We’ll become more organized as this Movement grows.

    To the Monied interests that have been running our Democracy into the ground I say, Watch Out. You can keep your jobs, keep your money, but we’re coming to take our government back!

  4. Vern Nelson Vern Nelson October 16, 2011

    if you read Vern Nelson’s account of the organizational screw ups leading to the event…

    Where and when did I write any such thing? You can’t find it because I didn’t. Maybe you’re thinking of my co-blogger Greg Diamond’s exhortation for unity when there was a little rivalry between the Occupy Irvine and Occupy Santa Ana groups. But organizationally this thing has come off wondrously.

    If more people read this blog of yours, I would be concerned that people might think I wrote something I didn’t. But I’m not too concerned.

    Seriously though, thanks for coming and covering our movement, and these are nice pictures. It’s too bad you could only be there at the beginning rather than the height of the event, around the time of the march, when we had at least 700 fired-up protesters according to both the police and my own count – In fact more joined us during the march, bringing us not too far from Chip D’s estimate. “Flat response?” Ha!

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | October 16, 2011

      Yeah, I know how to use a camera. I had other plans yesterday afternoon and evening.

      What was the point of the march? Wouldn’t it have been better to just stay where you were and show a huge crowd?

      Yes, I stand by the flat repsonse statement. I was snapping shots and you and Theo were waving your arms in the air trying to get people to say “this is what Democracy looks like.” Flat response? How about tepid? I’d even say your reaction was pathetic.

      The real energy was talking to people who lined the street.You should have spent more time there. That was the positive essence of the protest.

  5. Vern Nelson Vern Nelson October 16, 2011

    Oh, and Theo did a really great job as emcee – all day. And thanks to the great speakers including UCI’s Mark LeVine and the Orange Juice’s Duane Roberts and Greg Diamond, who showed up at last minute’s notice and gave real inspiring stemwinders.

  6. Catherine Liu Catherine Liu October 16, 2011

    Thanks for the mention. I am the UCI prof who talked about student loans and selling out young people to a lifetime of indentured servitude to service their debt. I thought the occupation was well organized in terms of resources. Wish I could be there for longer.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski October 16, 2011

      Nice seeing you at the Great Park today Catherine

      • Catherine Liu Catherine Liu October 16, 2011

        That was a great coincidence. It made me feel as if there was a public space here in the OC itself. I must say that I am a skeptic of lackadaisical speech making, but I was impressed with how quickly Occupy OC/Irvine got its logistics together. I don’t think there is anything wrong in in having some rabble rousing rhetoric. My hope is that people keep their energy levels up and remain at the Civic Center, while educating each other on the critical issues of this fantastically broad based social movement.

        • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski October 17, 2011

          I want to see the energy translated into policy

          • Catherine Liu Catherine Liu October 18, 2011

            I agree about clear cut policies that would work: in higher ed, we should have no Pell Grants for low income students who enroll in for profit universities for example. It sounds boring, but it is incredibly important to realize that for profit higher ed is making money from federally funded student loans. They are not delivering education in the meantime. Talk about Ponzi schemes.

  7. Gerald Pechenuk Gerald Pechenuk October 16, 2011

    There were probably over one million people demonstrating world-wide at “Occupy Wall Street,” and related “Occupy…….” Don’t pick shit with the sparrows as they say……….”
    The time has come to put an END to the Globalist Financial Looting System.
    Problem: The bankster hypocrites who with great sanctimonious hypocrisy denounce “Big Government” spending for health care, police, fireman, schools, teachers, pensions, infrastucture, etc HAVE NO PROBLEM TAKING 20 TRILLION IN GOVERNMENT TAXPAYER BAILOUTS!
    Solution: Enact HR 1489 Return to Prudent Banking (restoring Glass-Steagall standards. which WERE SUCCESSFUL for 66 YEARS)
    There are already 47 Co-sponsors in the House Bill, including most recently, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, of Orange County!!
    Click on and get the FULL LIST of co-sponsors in Labor, Farm, Congress, and other organizations.
    And then go to work to get every other Congressman on Board !!
    Don’t bitch, moan, and complain, GET TO WORK NOW!

  8. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski October 16, 2011

    20 trillion? Check your numbers there son. Sorry, LaRouchDouche, I am not buying what you’re selling

  9. Jake Jake October 18, 2011

    Your a bunch of communist idiots. Freedom & individual responsibility is what made this country great. We defeated communism once in the 1980’s thanks to Reagan and JPII. We will beat you again thanks to Cain and the Tea Party. Socialism is evil and the “occupy” spoiled brats are ignorant.

  10. John Schomanski John Schomanski October 19, 2011

    My question to you, UCI prof, is will you be willing to teach for free? If you were to volunteer your time and services, these students would not have to go broke paying your high wages now, and maintaining your pension later.

    Are you all talk, or can you back your words with action?

  11. Billy Chamberlin Billy Chamberlin October 20, 2011

    i live across the street from the civic center, and i think that if people were not honking at all hours of the night for the protestors, protesting there would be fine. the other three corners of the intersection are residential. i think that the protestors should move to an area that is less residential, for the constant noise is disruptive. i agree with the protest, but it is really annoying to hear honking when i am trying to sleep.

  12. Where were you Henry? Where were you Henry? October 20, 2011

    Occupy Irvine protest down to one woman holding a sign and several tents with no one. Hopefully Theo took a shower. He smells bad

  13. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski October 20, 2011

    So Vern wasn’t there? 700 people down to 1?

Comments are closed.