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A protester at the Occupy LA camp last night
A protester at the Occupy LA camp last night
Image: Jason Redmond/AP/Press Association Images

Protesters defy deadline at Occupy LA

The protesters have so far defied an order from the city’s mayor to move on from outside the City Hall, where they have been camped for the past two months.
Nov 28th 2011, 11:42 AM 723 1

DESPITE AN ORDER to move them on, Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles have defied the mayor’s early Monday deadline to vacate their encampment near the City Hall.

About 1,000 people flooded into the area as hundreds of tents remained standing as they have for nearly two months.

A celebratory atmosphere filled the night with protesters milling about the park and streets by City Hall in seeming good spirits.

“The best way to keep a non-violent movement non-violent is to throw a party, and keep it festive and atmospheric,” said one protester, Brian Masterson.

Police presence was slight right after the 12.01 am PST Monday deadline, but it began increasing as the morning wore on.

At the same time, the number of protesters dwindled.

“People have been pretty cooperative tonight. We want to keep it peaceful,” police Cmdr Andrew Smith told The Associated Press.

He refused to discuss how or when police will move to clear the park, but he said:

We’re going to do this as gently as we possibly can. Our goal is not to have anybody arrested. Our goal is not to have to use force.

By 2.30am, most protesters had moved from the camp site in the park to the streets. That put them technically in compliance with the mayor’s eviction order, but could lead to confrontation with police if they try to clear the streets.

There have so far been no arrests or reports of violence.

The Los Angeles showdown follows police actions in other cities — sometimes involving the use of pepper spray and tear gas — that resulted in the removal of long-situated demonstration sites.

Some of those encampments had been in use almost since the movement against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said earlier that the park grounds would be closed after the deadline, while Police Chief Charlie Beck promised that arrests would eventually be made if protesters did not comply.

But in a statement issued shortly before midnight, the mayor said police “will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption.”

As the deadline approached, people poured into the grounds and well after midnight, some protesters began marching into the streets, with several crossing the street to police headquarters.

Elsewhere, a deadline set by the city for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the site where it has camped for nearly two months passed Sunday without any arrests.

The scene outside Philadelphia’s City Hall was quiet most of Sunday and by early Monday the numbers of protesters — and police officers — had decreased.

Eight people were arrested in Maine yesterday after protesters in the Occupy Augusta encampment in Capitol Park took down their tents and packed their camping gear after being told to get a permit or move their shelters.

In Los Angeles, some campers packed up their tents and belongings to avoid police trouble, but said they intended to return without them in support of their fellow protesters.

Read: Two officers suspended over pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters>

Read: Occupy Dame Street protesters warned of legal action>

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Associated Press

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