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Occupy LA protesters arrested for blocking downtown streets

November 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Occupy L.A. protesters were led away in handcuffs after closing down streets in downtown L.A.'s financial district on Thursday.

Calling it the "Day of Action," protesters around the U.S. marked two months since the movement's birth and signaled they aren't ready to quit. Hundreds of protesters shut down downtown's Figueroa Street from 3rd and 5th streets during the morning rush hour.

Police said two men were arrested for interfering with police. The protesters shouted as they were handcuffed, as a number of onlookers stood by, upset with the situation. Protesters said the two who were arrested were not doing anything wrong.

The protest began with a march from the Bank of America Plaza through the Wells Fargo Center Plaza at 7 a.m. Demonstrators marched to 4th and Figueroa streets, where some of the protesters sat in the middle of the intersection.

Police said the marchers had a permit to have a rally and a march, but not to block the intersection. They declared it an unlawful assembly.

Police arrested more than 70 people, including an 82-year-old woman and a woman who would not walk, so officers had to carry her.

The groups Good Jobs L.A. and Occupy L.A., along with union workers, rallied for passage of a jobs bill, tighter regulations on banks and higher taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

A retiree said he joined the protest to fight for a better quality of life for younger workers.

"I worked for Citybank for 10 years, and I know that their main objective is making a profit, not taking care of their employees or any social responsibility," said Joe Bloomer of Torrance. "They pay petty cash to their social image, but nothing to the employees and the workers."

The protest created a massive traffic backup in the downtown area. Two exits off the 110 Freeway were also closed due to the demonstration.

Workers organized by the Service Employees International Union and Occupy L.A. took part in a second march at noon from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center on Brand Avenue.

Protesters gathered at the Bank of America Plaza and set up about a dozen tents, refusing to leave, despite orders from the LAPD to clear the grassy area.

"If they don't, then they'll be subject to arrest, which is of course what has happened in several other cases," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

A small group of protesters locked arms in solidarity, as dozens of police officers in riot gear surrounded them. There was no resistance as police began arresting them.

The property owner put up a fence outside the Bank of America Plaza Thursday night, a clear sign that demonstrators are not welcome.

The Occupy Movement in Los Angeles has been mostly peaceful. Some people were detained during a march last month, but protests have been nonviolent.

See photos of protesters marching through downtown Los Angeles.


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