Occupy LA protesters moved back to their tent city outside LA City Hall Monday after an early morning protest that ended when officers ordered participants out of the streets in an attempt to clear the way for morning commuters.
The protesters returned to the City Hall lawn about six hours after the 12:01 a.m. deadline imposed by city officials for removal of the encampment at City Hall. Although the streets were cleared in time for the morning commute, officers said they had no immediate plans to clear the tent city.
The city issued the 12:01 a.m. deadline Friday, but Chief Charlie Beck said Monday morning "there is no concrete deadline."
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"That's an issue we're going to have to deal with eventually, but right now we wanted to make sure the streets are clear for people to get to work," said Commander Andy Smith.
And, there's another issue that could delay the eviction -- attorneys for the group responded with an injunction request, asking a judge to prevent police from clearing the encampment. Their request for an injunction states that the city's expressed support for Occupy LA's movement.
The city engaged in "arbitrary and capricious action'' by first "approving the Occupy L.A. camp for 56 days before suddenly revoking permission,'' the protesters argued in court papers.
It was not immediately clear when the judge would hear the request.
"The only thing that will get me to leave is if they start hitting me, then I'll start running," said a protester identified as Derek, who added that non-violence was the only method of protest organizers have planned.
Officers in protective gear set up a perimeter overnight around 1st and Main Streets for crowd-control purposes after protesters moved from the lawn at City Hall to the streets after the midnight deadline.
First Street was closed between Spring and Main early Monday, and Main Street was closed between Second and Temple. Police reopened the streets at about 6 a.m.
At least four people were taken into custody after what had been a mostly peaceful night around City Hall. A dispersal order was issued at about 5 a.m., and that's when objects -- including a pumpkin, bamboo and a bottle -- were thrown at officers, said Smith.
The individuals were arrested for failure to obey a dispersal order, Smith said.
The people who threw the objects might not have been part of the original Occupy LA protests, Smith added. Some Occupy LA organizers, including at least one with a bullhorn, worked with officers to clear the streets and move people back to the lawn outside City Hall.
"I think for Occupy LA today was a great success," said one protester. "This is an historic moment. It's a beautiful day. It's a victory for all of humanity."
As police formed the perimeter, protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching." They also chanted, "Nah nah, nah nah nah nah, Hey hey hey, occupy."
The crowd was estimated at about 4,000 people. Most of the protesters had moved off the streets by 6 a.m.
"Let's go get breakfast,'' Smith said as he took off his protective helmet after the crowd moved back to the City Hall lawn.
About half of the 485 tents had been taken down as of Sunday night. Some of the protesters were camping out in trees.
The protesters should have left by Monday morning, said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "A good portion" of the people demonstrating early Monday were not Occupy LA protesters, he added.
"The park is closed," said Villaraigosa. "They should have been out before it was closed. The enforcement action will take place at a time we believe it's safe for officers and protesters."
The encampment formed outside City Hall in September as an off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.