Protesters from the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in Los Angeles have declared a minor victory over police after holding onto their campsite after defying a midnight deadline to leave. As Melissa Bell reported:
Despite a 12:01 a.m. deadline set by the Los Angeles government, protesters remain on the streets near the Occupy Los Angeles encampment. The encampment near the city hall in downtown Los Angeles is one of the oldest camps, and unlike many other Occupy Wall Street encampments around the city, it has not been raided by police.
Early Monday morning, police surrounded the camp, but eventually said they would not evict the protesters. Reuters reports that around 2,000 protesters joined the camp to show their support. A few protesters and police clashed on a street corner after protesters refused to get out of the middle of the street. A small number of protesters were arrested. By dawn, the police lined up around the camps, but slowly backed off when the public park opened to the public.
On a livestream recorded by some of the 100 or so protesters that remained after the night’s standoff, members of Occupy Los Angeles praised the police for their tactics, saying the cops handled the confrontation well. They also wondered if the police may be planning a second eviction attempt later today.
Police have stated that there is no hard deadline to remove the protesters, but that they would attempt to do so with as little “drama” as possible. As AP explained:
Police Chief Charlie Beck said it remains unclear when the nearly two-month-old Occupy LA camp would be cleared. About half of the 485 tents had been taken down as of Sunday night, leaving patches of the 1.7-acre park around City Hall barren of grass and strewn with garbage.
“There is no concrete deadline,” Beck told reporters Monday morning after hundreds of officers withdrew without moving in on the camp. The chief said he wanted to make sure the removal will be done when it was safe for protesters and officers and “with as little drama as possible.”
A hearing in U.S. District Court is scheduled for later Monday morning on a petition for an injunction to prevent the camp closure.
Both the mayor and Beck said Monday morning that there was no firm deadline to remove the protesters.
“We want to make sure that everybody knows the park is closed and there are services available, that there are alternative ways to protest,” Villaraigosa said in an interview with MSNBC. “By the way, we will be opening up the steps of City Hall for protests, they just can’t camp out.”
Villaraigosa, a former labor organizer himself, earlier said he sympathizes with the movement but felt it was time it moved beyond holding on to “a particular patch of park” and that public health and safety could not be sustained for a long period.
In Philadelphia protesters also remained in their camp after a deadline came and passed for their removal. Police there have been hesitant to move in and forcefully remove protesters just as in L.A.. As AP reported:
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.
Dozens of tents remained at the encampment outside Philadelphia’s City Hall Monday morning, 12 hours after a city-imposed deadline passed for the protesters to move to make way for a construction project.
The camp appeared mostly quiet amid a heavy police presence, but around 5 a.m. EST a handful of people were marching one of the city’s main business corridors banging drums.
The scene outside City Hall was quiet most of the day Sunday. But the sound of protesters’ drumming did bring complaints from several people living in nearby high-rise apartment buildings.
Along the steps leading into a Philadelphia plaza, about 50 people sat in lines Sunday with the promise that they would not leave unless they were carried out by authorities. For a time, they linked arms. But as it seemed that a forceful ouster was not imminent, they relaxed a bit. A police presence was heavier than usual but no orders to leave had been issued.
A few dozen tents remained scattered on the plaza, along with trash, piles of dirty blankets and numerous signs reading, “You can’t evict an idea.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was out of town Sunday, but his spokesman reiterated that “people are under orders to move.”