The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Occupy movement unfolded in the late hours of Tuesday night when police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia cleared the makeshift tent cities and arrested protesters who refused to leave. In all, about 300 people were arrested in the overnight raids.
Occupy Los Angeles
Occupy Los Angeles protesters had anticipated a tense standoff with police ever since a Monday morning eviction deadline issued by Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa amid concerns of children staying in the park among other incidents had come and gone with no action.
By 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, downtown’s City Hall Park was packed with about 400 Occupy protesters, some wearing gas masks while others set up barriers made from trash cans around the campsite. Just after midnight on Wednesday, in a raid that lasted only a few minutes, 1,400 police officers in riot gear moved in, clearing protesters from their tents and banishing bystanders from nearby streets. The extra muscle proved unnecessary as most protesters did not put up a fight and were hauled off to jail by the bus load. More than 200 protesters were arrested in all, Associated Press reports. No major injuries were reported.
The city had taken a forgiving approach to the protesters since they set up camp two months ago, not wanting a repeat of the tear gas and pepper-spray assaults launched in other Occupy standoffs in New York City, Oakland and elsewhere. "We took a measured approach, we did not dismiss the protesters out of hand," Villaraigosa said at a press conference following the sweep. "What we demonstrated in this town is that working together we can respect the rights of people to speak out against the government."
Anti-Wall Street protesters in Philadelphia also prepared for a police showdown, and apparently, they got one. “They weren’t exactly orderly,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “They were very confrontational as they would stop and chant and engage with the police officers.”
By 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, police had shut down the streets surrounding the encampment in Dilworth Plaza near City Hall and began arresting protesters who refused to leave peacefully. As police continued to pull down tents, dozens of protesters fled the campsite and began marching through the city’s streets. By 4:15 a.m., police and protesters again clashed, resulting in the bulk of the more than 50 arrests made early Wednesday. Over the course of the night, two police officers received minor injuries while making arrests while another was injured taking down a tent. One Occupy protesters had her foot crushed by a police horse, Mayor Michael Nutter said, according to local news station WPVI-TV.
The city had previously given Occupy Philly protesters until Sunday at 5 p.m. to vacate Dilworth Plaza so that it could complete a long-planned renovation of the area.
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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages)