Occupy LA's Chalking Event Remains Peaceful; LAPD Continues Stepped Up Patrols

Before Thursday's night's scheduled Art Walk and "Chalkupy," protesters from Oakland were detained for alleged chalking at the public park

A downtown Los Angeles chalking demonstration designed to coincide with the area's monthly Art Walk remained peaceful Thursday night, despite three people being detained that morning amid heavy police presence, prompted by a violent clash last month between demonstrators and officers.

"The chalking that’s been done already at Pershing Square area we're gonna continue to allow it as long as it doesn't become a public safety hazard, lead to some kind of violent or volatile activity." said Lt. Andy Nieman with LAPD.

Protesters marked up public spaces with chalk and mostly kept to themselves Thursday night, a welcomed demonstration for artists who displayed their work in peace.

Some festival founders dismissed the would-be troublemakers.

"They're not a political movement, not cohesive. They're really not the force to be reckoned with they've made themselves out to be. It’s a house of cards," said Joe Moller, found of LA ArtWalk.

The protest was mostly peaceful, save three arrests earlier in the day.

An earlier event drew protesters from an Occupy group in Oakland to Pershing Square, and was timed in advance of an evening "Chalkupy" event that comes a month after the regular Downtown LA Art Walk turned into a melee.

Three members of Occupy Oakland were detained, and one arrested on an outstanding warrant, for allegedly chalking messages at Pershing Square, Officer Christopher No of the LAPD's Media Relations office said.

The public park was already decorated with chalk drawings by mid-day Thursday, and police said they increased the size of an already large presence regularly scheduled for the art walk.

The event scheduled for later Thursday evening was also took place at Pershing Square – near the popular monthly arts celebration that takes place on Spring Street between Third and Seventh streets.

The Facebook event page says Occupy LA calls participants to gather at 7:30 p.m. at Pershing Square for a "Community Artwalk Gathering and Chalkupy."

"Due to the unforeseen circumstances of last month's artwalk, we decided instead of bringing our flavor to artwalk, we would like to invite the community to an open art and music event, in a space we feel could be safer and more comfortable," the event page reads.

"This is a non-violent, peaceful family event, we plan on confining to Pershing Sq. We hope the city can allow us this day to celebrate art and community unobstructed."

On OccupyLosAngeles.org "Chalk Walk 2" gets a detailed description, including plans for a post-chalk clean-up crew.

The website elsewhere notes that the city denied a requested permit for the chalking assembly at Pershing Square. It states that Occupy LA members came to a consensus in December to "occupy" each art walk.

On July 12, after a controntation between officers and protesters who were drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, police fired non-lethal rounds at the crowd. Seventeen were arrested on suspicion of various offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism and failure to disperse, according to police.

Occupy LA activist Cheryl Aichele, who has been issuing regular statements to the media, said that police caused the trouble with an "excessive show and use of force" in response to free speech protests. She also said most of the people who clashed with officers and were arrested were not part of the Occupy movement.

Joe Moller, executive director of the Downtown LA Art Walk, said that businesses had been warned – both by Art Walk organizers and Occupy protesters – to expect more action Thursday night.

Some businesses have put up signs reading "I support a peaceful Art Walk," he said.

Moller spoke angrily of the July 12 incident, during which some who were hit by non-lethal rounds said they had come to the Art Walk solely to see artists' work.

"Art Walk is totally agnostic organization – apolitical in every way," Moller said. "The Art Walk was co-opted by the agitators because they knew it would guarantee an audience."

Moller stressed that he was not opposed to Occupy's criticism of big banks, but he criticized their tactics.

"The banks are four blocks away. I'll be happy to walk them over there," Moller said.

A spokesman for City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said the Los Angeles Police Department has since June referred between 12 and 15 cases to city prosecutors for criminal vandalism related to chalking on public sidewalks.

Only five cases have been filed by the City Attorney's Office, and none of them involved the July 12 Art Walk confrontation, spokesman Frank Mateljan said in an email. Three of the five cases were dismissed by the City Attorney's Office, he added.

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