Occupation ends as LA protest is broken up
Published 01/12/2011 | 05:00
A pile of collapsed tents, a mountain of what locals call "trash", and a slight whiff of raw sewage was all that remained of the occupation of Los Angeles last night, after police successfully evicted demonstrators from the centre of America's second largest metropolis.
In the early hours of the morning, 1,400 officers descended on the public space surrounding City Hall, where around 800 members of the so-called "99pc" have spent the past seven weeks.
By dawn, the encampment, which in recent days had been swelled by several hundred temporary residents, was no more. Police reported around 200 arrests, mostly of protesters who refused to leave once the area had been encircled. They were handcuffed with plastic ties and removed to a processing facility in the car park of Dodger Stadium, the nearby home of LA's baseball team. It remains unclear whether criminal charges will be filed.
Officers carried guns and batons and were equipped with riot-control devices, but they were barely used.
The conspicuous absence of the tear-gassing, pepper-spraying, and occasional beatings that have characterised similar operations in other US cities was partly due to the fact that LA's Democratic administration is strongly supportive of the Occupy Movement.
Shortly after the encampment was formed, in early October, the city's mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, toured to speak with residents and hand out free anoraks.
Despite the encampment's closure, the mayor said that a First Amendment area would remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps where protesters could continue to voice grievances. (© Independent News Service)