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Occupy LA responds to NY clearing with march

November 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Tensions rose briefly Tuesday when about 100 Occupy Los Angeles protesters marched downtown in solidarity with their New York counterparts, who were ousted from their encampment.

Police cleared protesters from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan and a judge ruled that their free speech rights do not extend to pitching a tent and setting up camp for months at a time.

About 180 people were arrested as police cracked down at the makeshift campsite they deemed a health hazard. Protesters were told they can return once the park was clean.

Despite being told they could will not be allowed to bring tents or sleeping bags, demonstrators pledged to carry on with their message protesting corporate greed and economic inequality, either in Zuccotti or a yet-to-be chosen new home.

The National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order allowing demonstrators to return with tents to the park, arguing that the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on the protesters.

A New York judge denied the motion Tuesday afternoon, saying that the protesters' first amendment rights don't entitle them to camp out indefinitely in the plaza.

"The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with, as the park has been taken over by protesters, making it unavailable to anyone else."

It had been a peaceful protest, but people living in permanent homes near the tent city complained about noise and filth.

"Make no mistake, the final decision to act was mine and mine alone," said Bloomberg. "Now the Occupy movement is at a crossroads."

Occupy Los Angeles

The two-hour march in solidarity with New Yorkers began shortly after midnight, with about 100 protestors winding their way through downtown beating drums and chanting. Eventually they made their way back to City Hall.

Because of the size of the crowd, extra officers were called out. There were no arrests.

"We never know what's going to happen so of course we have to err on the side of caution in public safety," said Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"They weren't hostile," said Emilio Arreola, security for Occupy L.A.. "They were just doing their thing. For 100 percent of the thing they just blocked off streets for us."

The demonstration was mostly peaceful and no arrests were made. However there are concerns about the number of mentally ill and drug addicted homeless at the encampment.

"The homeless population are coming in, they are here to just squat," said Arreola. "They are not here to help the movement."

Some social workers are scheduled to visit Saturday to move them to better facilities.

Organizers say that a lot of the original demonstrators have left because of the homeless. They say it has caused a rift in the camp with some saying they are disruptive and at times violent, while others are arguing that they are part of the 99 percent.

The LAPD is working with protesters to move them from City Hall.

"I think everybody agrees it's not a sustainable location. We can't have hundreds of people camping out there forever," Smith said. "Right now we don't have an end date, we don't have a timeline and we don't have a final date they are going to be there."

The city attorney announced on Tuesday the prosecution of five separate criminal cases that stem from incidents at the Occupy L.A. encampment.

"We believe there is a serious threat to public safety with these type of things going on in this location," said Earl Thomas of the city attorney's office.

Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland protesters marched to the University of California, Berkeley, campus Tuesday after police cleared a tent city outside Oakland City Hall on Monday amid complaints about safety and sanitation

City officials said that they could gather there but were not allowed to camp out.

Oakland police made 33 arrests as they cleared the encampment Monday morning. The city said the month-long protest cost an estimated $2.4 million. Officials decided to end the encampment after there was repeated violence.

"It was no longer about the abuses of the financial system, or for closures, or for the unemployed," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. "The encampment became a place where we had repeated violence, and this week a murder. We had to bring the camp to an end before more people were hurt."

Occupy Cal

A day of demonstrations by students and Occupy activists was disrupted Tuesday afternoon when a UC Berkeley police officer shot a man with a gun on campus.

The shooting happened inside the Haas School of Business, about a half-mile from the main protest site.

Officials did not know if the suspect was part of the Occupy Cal movement, said Ute Frey, a spokeswoman for the university.

Occupy Cal activists said they would try again to establish an encampment Tuesday night, when UC Berkeley professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich is scheduled to deliver his speech on class warfare on the steps of Sproul Hall.

On Nov. 9, police arrested 40 protesters who were trying to set up tents on campus.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau launched an investigation into allegations that campus police used excessive force. He said videos of the protests were disturbing, and he plans to grant amnesty to all students who were arrested and cited for attempting to block police from removing the tents.

See photos of Occupy L.A. protestors at City Hall.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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