Occupy LA Evicted, Cleanup Begins at City Hall - NBC Southern California

Occupy LA Evicted, Cleanup Begins at City Hall

A hazardous material team will inspect the area outside City Hall after the eviction of Occupy LA protesters



    A dog and three people in a tree house were the final holdouts at the Occupy LA encampment outside City Hall early Wednesday after an overnight LAPD operation that ended with nearly 300 arrests.

    "At approximately 12:30 a.m., the LAPD began enforcing the closure of City Hall Park after giving those in the park a final opportunity to leave without facing arrest," said mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement.

    More than 290 people were arrested, and while other Occupy encampments ended in violence, the LA eviction was mostly peaceful.

    "The world was watching last night, and what the world saw was an elegant operational plan that was brilliantly executed by America's finest police force," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

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    "It was a restrained application of overwhelming force that perfectly responded to the actions of the crowd," Beck said.

    By 5 a.m., all occupiers had been removed, leaving behind scattered signs, blankets, food, trash, mattresses and other items outside City Hall, where the lush lawn has become an expanse of dirt and debris.

    A hazardous material team will inspect the grounds before cleanup crews clear the area. Some of the debris is contaminated with urine and feces, police said.

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    The last of the occupiers were in a shelter that had been constructed in a tree. Officers used their Bomb Assault Tactical Control Assessment Tool (BATCAT), a massive vehicle based on a Caterpillar forklift, to reach the three remaining people and a small dog.

    Bean bags were fired at the men in the tree house in an effort to get them to leave.

    "They were up there kind of saying what was on their mind to our officers," said Commander Andy Smith. "They're part of a little group here called The Sovereign Nation. They were the most recalcitrant of our protesters up here."

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    Those taken into custody were transported to a nearby jail. Bond was set at $5,000 per person.

    The dog, named Lucky, was taken to animal services.

    A few of the evicted occupiers moved to nearby La Placita Olvera Church. About 10 tents were next to the church early Wednesday morning.

    Protesters and police called the operation a success because of the peaceful manner in which the encampment was cleared. About 1,400 officers were involved in the methodical operation.

    "To the credit of the protesters, the officers didn't have to use force," said Smith. "We had two minor use-of-forces incidents where people were taken to the ground."

    No injuries were reported.

    "Occupy LA has shined a spotlight on the banks and the arrogant CEOs who wrecked our economy," said Mike Garcia, President of SEIU United Service Workers West, a group involved in the protests. "You cannot evict an idea. You cannot evict a movement. Now is the time to expand Occupy LA beyond City Hall."

    About 500 people had gathered at the encampment since September as part of an off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Some moved out Sunday after Friday's announcement by city officials that officers would be clearing the tent city.

    As for the encampment, concrete barriers were being placed around the south side of City Hall early Wednesday. It will be a few weeks before the park can be rehabilitated.

    "During the park closure, a First Amendment area will remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps," Villaraigosa said. "Once the park is cleared, it will be repaired and returned to all Angelenos to exercise their First Amendment rights."

    Another Occupy raid was conducted overnight in Philadelphia.

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