Growing up in L.A. in the ’60s, I vividly remember the big West L.A. Federal Building — on the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and the San Diego Freeway — as a landmark known for civil rights protests.
Our family would regularly drive by the building on weekends going to and from my grandmas’ houses — one lived in Westwood and the other in Santa Monica.
For a child, some of the memories of the protests there were disturbing. As the beat movement gave way to civil unrest in the ’60s, the scene came to light with photojournalism from the likes of Charles Brittin. “Brittin took his camera to the front lines, and his often tightly focused images were filled with raw emotion,” as his obituary in the L.A. Times observed.
“One from a 1965 protest at the West L.A. Federal Building shows no faces, only body parts — the splayed legs of a black female protester being gripped by a white officer.” It is titled “Arrest at Los Angeles Federal Building Protest,” 1965 and has been shown at the Getty Museum, among other places.
Now, as it turns out, Nevada County political activist Mark Meckler and his political allies are going to stage their own protest at the West L.A. Federal building on October 7 titled “Wake Up America.” A flyer is here, and the rally is being promoted on the Nevada County Tea Party Patriots Facebook page.
“If you are concerned about the fiscal state of this country and state, this rally will provide you with ways to get involved in grassroots groups and initiatives so that you can make an immediate difference in the November election,” it reads.
“Some of you may not believe this, but a small number of people can make a big difference in politics. Those with the loudest voice get heard. We need your voice!
“Our country and state are on the precipice, but the ship can be turned around this November. Now is the time to get involved. Wake Up America!…Liberty is Waiting….Let’s Roll!” Sponsors include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
We’ve come full circle in my lifetime of roughly 50 years, and the scenes at the West L.A. Federal building — from childhood to adulthood — is just one case in point. I’m not sure if we’re going backward or forward — but I have my suspicions.
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