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LA City Hall Park reopens after Occupy damage

July 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles' newly renovated City Hall Park has reopened after being shut down several months ago.

Occupy L.A. protestors showed up to demonstrate at the park reopening ceremony Thursday morning. Only this time, they admit that they won't be pitching any tents.

"It was a disaster the first time. I mean, they can easily surround us. We'll give out flyers to people to let them know that Occupy is still around and the most important thing there is," said Joel Greenfield, an Occupy L.A. protester.

The park surrounding City Hall was closed after an Occupy Wall Street encampment moved in and took over the grounds last November. They put up tents and structures and moved in. Once police got the protesters out, they saw that extensive damage had been done.

"We're going to ask Angelenos to respect this park, to respect the native plants, to make sure that when you're walking n the park that you walk softly and enjoy immensely," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

City crews have installed a new lawn and landscaped with drought-tolerant plants that will cut down the amount of water needed. Renovating and reopening the park has cost the city about $500,000. The next challenge for the city is maintaining the park the way it looks on opening day.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the rules are clear, and they've been posted on this park as well as others. He assured the public that officers will be enforcing the rules. There is now a 10:30 p.m. curfew for city parks, and tents are not allowed.

The park closure forced he farmers market to move across the street. Merchants still aren't sure about their future.

"I think we're going to wait and see. We really don't know what's going to happen. So I guess time will tell," said Susan Hutchison, a farmers market merchant.

They may not be able to spend the night, but Occupy L.A. is alive and well and promising their message of social justice will be heard.

Just last week, Occupy protesters got into a scuffle with police during Art Walk in downtown L.A. Police ended up using rubber bullets on the crowd. Several people were injured and about a dozen people were taken into custody.

See photos from the protest in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, July 12, 2012.


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