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Occupy LA could branch out to Van Nuys location

October 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The "Occupy L.A." movement wants to expand its protest into the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles city officials say they're not quite ready to shut the protest down, but they do want to tighten the rules.

With few exceptions, the nearly one-month-long protest by Occupy Los Angeles has been peaceful.

There are plans for a different protest in Van Nuys, with a group calling itself Occupy the San Fernando Valley.

There are strict prohibitions against camping and overnight protests in the proposed area, which is bordered by courts and federal buildings.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says it will be different than what has been allowed at Los Angeles City Hall.

"We have made concessions so that this can be a place where OLA can make themselves heard, and they can still make themselves heard in Van Nuys, but we're not going to modify the rules of that civic center," said Beck.

The city has modified the rules at City Hall, allowing protesters to camp on the lawn for 28 days. The grass is dying but the place is very clean and the protesters pay for their own portable toilets.

"The folks who are camped out on the north and south lawns have been peaceful. They have generally complied with instructions from the police and others, so we're going to work with them," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

There are no immediate plans to force them to move. Some Occupy L.A. activists admit they're looking at other locations with the help of the city. They won't say where they are looking to move the encampment.

Even downtown business-owners like David Melamed support the concept of the protest over economic inequalities.

"I sympathize with the protesters. I believe in capitalism. I'm a businessman myself. I want to make more money. But I support the 99 percent," said Melamed. "People are tired. It's time to listen to the voices. Listen to the people."

Some city politicians and downtown workers think they've listened long enough.

"We can certainly provide them with a way to express themselves, and set some parameters on this, but not to allow people to sleep there is not something that we need to do. It's gone well beyond far enough," said L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry.

"There's really nothing we can do to help them," said city councilman Dennis Zine. "So we would think that if they would go back to work or get a job, or do something, occupation at Los Angeles City Hall is really not accomplishing anything."


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