LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of Occupy Los Angeles protesters showed no sign they planned to move Sunday ahead of a city-imposed midnight deadline to abandon their encampment, saying they would instead hold an "eviction block party."
Although city officials have told demonstrators they must leave the weeks-old protest site and take their nearly 500 tents with them by 12:01 a.m. Monday, just a handful were seen packing up Sunday.
Instead, some passed out fliers containing the city seal and the words: "By order of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, this notice terminates your tenancy and requires you to attend the Occupy L.A. Eviction Block Party."
"The best way to keep a non-violent movement non-violent is to throw a party, and keep it festive and atmospheric," said Brian Masterson as he helped a friend break down her tent. "And I'm going to be doing as much as I can to stop violence."
He said he had turned his own tent into a "non-violent booby trap" by filling it with sandbags to make it tough to tear down.
"We can't beat the LAPD, but we can make it difficult for them to do their job, and have fun while we're doing it," Masterson said.
Villaraigosa issued a statement a few hours before the deadline Sunday night, outlining the city's plan and his hopes for a "spirit of cooperation."
He said that even after the park's official closure police "will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption."
Villaraigosa said police and social workers will walk through the park handing out information on the closure and services available.
The mayor did not say what tactics authorities would use for those who refuse to leave – or when they will begin using them.
The atmosphere was already festive Sunday afternoon. A punk-pop band played protest songs on one of the lawns. The protest's artists were out in great numbers showing their work, and twice the usual number of news trucks surrounded the tent city.
Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart drew a crowd as he stood on the City Hall steps and argued with protesters on topics like Bank of America and Warren Buffett.
Some campers packed up their tents and belongings Sunday to avoid police trouble, but said they intended to return without them in support of their fellow protesters.
"I would prefer not to take the tent down," said Tiffany Wallace as she packed up her campsite. "But we need to be strategic for this movement to last. This is not just for the occupation of this particular location. This is for mobilizing working class people nationally and internationally."
Digital fliers were being posted on Facebook and Twitter encouraging people to go to City Hall at midnight in solidarity with occupiers.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl appeared on the City Hall lawn to issue a late plea for protesters to leave.
Occupy organizers said thanks, but no thanks.
"Until the grievances of the 99 percent are addressed to end corporate control of the system, the government and the media, Occupy LA will be here exercising our 1st Amendment rights," Julie Levine, one of several Occupy spokespeople, told the Los Angeles Times.
Police, for their part, have said little about what tactic they would take if protesters ignore the deadline.
Chief Charlie Beck has told reporters that officers would not be sweeping through the camp and arresting everyone the minute the clock ticks past midnight.
But in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that was published Sunday, Beck indicated he expects that arrests will become inevitable at some point.
"I have no illusions that everybody is going to leave," Beck said. "We anticipate that we will have to make arrests."
When it comes to that, he said, police officers "will not be the first ones to apply force."
Meanwhile, local clergy and labor leaders implored both sides to ensure that the 2-month-old demonstration remain peaceful.
"We are grateful to the Occupy movement for refocusing the country to the issue of income inequality," Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary and treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement issued Sunday.
"We call for nonviolence in all acts of civil disobedience by Occupy LA and in professional procedures by the LAPD. We are committed to a long-term movement from the 99 percent to hold Wall Street and the banks accountable for devastating our economy," Durazo added.
Villaraigosa has expressed admiration that, at least so far, the Occupy Los Angeles movement has remained peaceful, unlike those in some other cities around the country.
But while the mayor, a former labor organizer himself, has said he sympathizes with the movement, he added it's time to close the encampment of some 500 tents that dot the lawn in front of City Hall for the sake of public health and safety.The 2-month-old movement is also at a crossroads, Villaraigosa said, and must "move from holding a particular patch of park to spreading the message of economic justice."
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
- Show quoted text -
The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.
|@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!|
|@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS|
|@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)|
Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"
|@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet|
|@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.|
Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.
|@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."|
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS|
|@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.|
Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.
"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS|
Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.