LOS ANGELES — Wall Street protesters declared a minor victory Monday when they defied a midnight deadline to leave their tent city encampment around City Hall and police withdrew after surrounding the camp for six hours without moving in.
Four people were arrested as police cleared downtown streets to make way for morning rush hour traffic, but police said the event was largely peaceful.
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."
Protesters chanted "we won, we won" as riot-clad officers left the scene.
"I'm pretty much speechless," said Clark Davis, media coordinator for Occupy LA.
Police turned back after hundreds of Occupy LA supporters showed up at the camp Sunday night as the midnight deadline for evacuation neared.
As the night drew on, many demonstrators left.
Protester Julie Levine said she was surprised that police did not move in as the numbers dwindled. "We were fearful," she said. "But we held our numbers and police were on their best behavior."
A celebratory atmosphere filled the night with protesters milling about the park and streets by City Hall in seeming good spirits. A group on bicycles circled the block, one of them in a cow suit. Organizers led chants with a bull horn.
A police tactical alert was called that kept officers on overtime. Officers reopened the streets at around 6:30 a.m.
"Let's go get breakfast," said Commander Andrew Smith as he removed his helmet.
The protest was largely peaceful but there were some skirmishes. Four people were arrested for failure to disperse and a few protesters tossed bamboo sticks and water bottles at officers, Smith said.
No injuries were reported.
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.
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.
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.
Philadelphia's protesters have managed to avoid aggressive confrontations so far. By early Monday there was still hope the City of Brotherly Love would continue to be largely violence-free.
But eight people were arrested in Maine Sunday 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.
Scott Shuster was one of those breaking down his camp, but he said it was only to protect his property and he planned to remain.
"I just don't want to lose my tent," he said.Others moved their tents to the sidewalk so they were technically out of the park.
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.