Occupy LA Takes Legal Action to Avoid Eviction

A resolution from the LA City Council -- the only such welcome mat given out by any city -- may serve as a legal argument to keep protesters on the lawn of City Hall, according to attorneys

A legal team from the National Lawyers Guild filed for a temporary restraining order in federal court Monday to prevent authorities from removing Occupy LA protesters from the lawn of City Hall.

The defendants in the suit are the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Protesters remain defiant about their right to camp out on the lawn of City Hall -- a right, they say, the LA City Council gave them and that Villaraigosa has no right to take away.

The lawsuit acknowledges there is an anti-camping ordinance; however, there can still be camping in designated areas, said James Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild.

"The City Council passed a resolution welcoming the occupation, applauding the occupation, inviting them to stay and created a designated area that is an exception to the prohibition on overnight camping. And only the City Council, by resolution, can rescind that. They have not done so," said Lafferty.

"In no other city was there a City Council resolution giving us the right to be here," said Mario Brito, plaintiff and founding member of Occupy LA.

The resolution was passed in October, with Council District 7's Richard Alarcon spearheading the effort.


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"We agree with your frustration," he said back in October. "We agree that we have to do something about financial institutions that are ripping people off. We agree that we need to regulate further the banking industry."

Now, Occupy LA is relying on that resolution to argue the mayor has no power to act unilaterally.

"The issue has to go back to the full City Council and it has to withdraw its permission to allow us to remain on the city law," Brito said.

Occupy LA is expecting the court to rule on its restraining order by Wednesday.

Going into Monday, the encampment was on the ropes. The city issued a 12:01 a.m. deadline for eviction; however, no one was removed and Beck later said "there is no concrete deadline."

On Monday morning, a crowd of about 4,000 people gathered in the street as the threat of eviction escalated. Most of the protesters were off the streets by 6 a.m.

"Occupy is not perfect, but in two months it has raised a lot of awareness," said Maggie Maki with Occupy LA.

Four people we arrested Monday, and about half of the encampment's 485 tents have already been taken down.

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