Vincent Cross drives a big fat car, the kind of car that all morning long I watched speed by the tent city at city hall erected by Occupy LA. Those guys in the big fat cars, you know the type. Protesters stood on the sidewalk waving signs calling out corporate greed or asking for someone to feed the hungry and those big fat cars just kept moving past, not so much as a toot of the horn or a fist bump in the air.
But not Mr. Vincent Cross. Mr. Vincent Cross stopped.
A big booming guy with a big booming voice, he shouted "Free the people!" to my children and our little group of friends. And then he did something completely remarkable: He called me over and pushed a $100 bill into my hand.
"Buy the people lunch," he instructed. "Tell them I want to join them but I haven't been able to. But tell them I'm with them, OK?"
Cross supplies restaurants with equipment and has a business in Los Angeles. He says that his own defining moment came a few years ago when his wife wrote him a check for $4,000 off one account and he went to the bank -- the same bank -- to deposit it. "They wanted to charge me $5 to do this. Un-be-liev-able," he said, drawing out each syllable of the word for emphasis.
Things have been rotten with banks for at least 15 years and the foreclosure mess, well hell, how much worse can things get, he asks. And jobs? Don't get him started. Peace between the races? He was just glad to see that white folks have joined these protests too. "This is about all of us, isn't it?" he asked.
America, he says, has some changes coming. He admired the rainbow of faces at the Occupy LA demonstration behind us and said, "You tell them I'm with them, OK?"
And with that, he sped away in his big fat car.