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Innovative Occupy LA deal to move from City Hall under fire

Occupy LA March - November 17

Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

A protester is arrested during a Thursday afternoon Occupy LA march that did not have police permits.

Well, that didn't take long. Just as an innovative deal between the City of LA and Occupy LA protesters — a deal that would have gotten the protesters off City Hall's lawn and into 10,000 square feet if office space — was floated, it was criticized. 

But it may still be in play. And if it is, it's consistent with the very enlightened stance LA has taken toward the Occupy Movement since it set up camp at City Hall almost two months ago.

This is from the LA Times:

Images of cops in riot gear rousting Occupy encampments across the nation have become ubiquitous in recent weeks, as many cities try to prevent the tent gatherings from becoming troublesome permanent fixtures. But Los Angeles has taken a different tack.

Officials have been quietly searching for common ground with Occupy representatives for several weeks, culminating in a highly unusual offer announced by protesters Monday: If the campers move off the City Hall lawn, the city will lease them work space for $1 a year, as well as provide land for protesters to garden.

As political blow back to the proposal mounted Tuesday, city officials backed away slightly from the offer, according to Scott Shuster, a protester who said he has been present at the meetings, which are headed by Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo. Shuster said it was unclear whether that offer was still on the table.

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Did the pepper spray cop use excessive force at UC Davis?

AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock

In this Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, photo University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad Friday in Davis, Calif. Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in pepper spraying seated protesters were placed on administrative leave Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, as the chancellor of the school accelerates the investigation into the incident.

In just a few days, UC Davis campus cop John Pike has entered his 15-minutes-of-infamy. All it took was a can of weapons-grade pepper spray and a group of Occupy protestors. And the web. And Photoshop. You get the idea. News travels fast and then gets twisted to various creative purposes.

The question is, Did Pike use excessive force in dealing with what looked to many like a peaceful demonstration? I think he probably could have held off on the pepper spray. But Higher Ed Live points out that what observers might think is non-violent protest can be perceived differently by police. Cited is a report that grew out of a similar protest at UCLA in 2008, which Higher Ed Live references:

[O]ne very interesting issue was addressed when the report looked at UCLA PD’s use-of-force regulations. This issue was that among the factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of force is “whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”

This is the very issue that is at the heart of last Friday’s incident at UC Davis. Were the students sitting linked arm-in-arm peacefully protesting, or actively resisting police? Were campus police within their rights to deploy force to disperse them?

At UCLA at least, here’s what the report finds:

“It appears from interviews and correspondence that many students and faculty members were under the impression that…locking arms with others to block a pathway would be regarded by police as passive and peaceful resistance not justifying the use of force. In fact, demonstrators who stand, sit, or lie down with arms locked to one another are engaged in ‘active resistance’ as UCLA and other police departments understand that phrase…”

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Occupy LA gets the arrest treatment

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

An Occupy protester being arrested following a planned disobedience, blocking traffic at Figueroa and Fourth in downtown Los Angeles.

It was only a matter of time. I'm at the LA Auto Show, not far from where police in riot gear are currently breaking up an Occupy LA demonstration and arresting protesters in downtown LA. You can tell something its going down due to the numerous hovering helicopters.

KPCC's Frank Stoltze and Corey Moore are reporting from the scene.

You have to give it to LA — at least they did this is broad daylight, in response to a demonstration. Contrast this will New York, where Occupy Wall Street got rousted from Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night.

The Occupy LA emcampment at City Hall, meanwhile, looks calm and orderly, as it has for more than a month.

The Occupy Movement is two months old today. I'll have more to say on this later, but it's clearly entered a new phase. The protesters are upping the ante. Wall Stree itself is...too preoccupied with the eurozone crisis to care. So it's left for the authorities to manage what has become the biggest American protest movement since the Vietnam War was ongoing.

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