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Violence escalates at Occupy camps; LA remains peaceful

October 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Violence flared up on both coasts Wednesday night as anti-Wall Street protests continued.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Oakland as they vowed to return to their site just hours after police cleared hundreds of people from the streets with tear gas and bean bag rounds.

An Iraq War veteran marching with the protesters suffered a cracked skull in the chaos between officers and demonstrators in Oakland.

In a show of solidarity with protesters in Oakland, New York demonstrators ran away from Wall Street and into the heavily trafficked streets, causing problems for motorists and police.

Police on motorcycles formed a line across an intersection blocking the street, but demonstrators dashed passed them.

Police closed a downtown Atlanta park where more than 50 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators had arrested following days of protests.

Some cities, such as Providence, R.I., are moving ahead with plans to evict activists. But from Tampa, Fla., to Boston, police and city leaders say they will continue to try to work with protesters to address problems in the camps.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the Occupy LA demonstrators cannot continue to camp out on the City Hall lawn indefinitely.

Concerned about the cost to taxpayers, Villaraigosa asked his staffers Wednesday to come up with a plan to relocate the protesters or limit when they can be on the lawn.

The mayor said he wants a plan "that ensures the people's right to protest, a right to speak and to assemble, but also that we have time, place and manner, restrictions, requirements, that balance all of that."

Villaraigosa said the city was spending about $2,700 per day, mostly for General Services Department police officers to watch demonstrators. People also have been wearing out the lawn and inadvertently breaking sprinkler heads, he said.

Damage to the lawn could be as much as $400,000, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The mayor suggested the protesters could be moved to city property near Temple and Main streets.

Villaraigosa said he respects the protesters' rights but they must in turn respect city laws. A spokesman for the city attorney said existing laws bar people from camping on city property after 10:30 p.m.

The mayor also said he has concerns about the camp becoming a health hazard.

"By saying it's dirty and it's a health hazard and we've got to close it down, it's a very convenient way of thwarting a movement that will put the people in positions of power and wealth at risk," said Bob Vanech, an Occupy LA protester.

Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl is calling for the end of the Occupy L.A. movement, saying it's time for the protesters to move on.

Rosendahl said he sympathizes and agrees with the issues brought on by those involved in the movement.

"However, it is not an appropriate place to stay forever. They've made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it's time to move on," said Rosendahl.

Hundreds of Los Angeles protesters have joined the group and set up camp with the city's blessing. Despite a few run-ins with police, protesters say they plan on standing their ground on the lawn of City Hall.

"There should be public debate around here like we have every day with general assembly where regular people from the city can come down and speak about political issues in a passionate forum and understand what it means to be in the government," said one protester.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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