Beck: Officials working on timeline for closing Occupy LA camp

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On the heels of the Occupy camp raids in New York and Oakland, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has announced that officials are working on a timeline for a closure of the Occupy L.A. encampment at City Hall, the Los Angeles Times reports. Beck wouldn't discuss specifics but said he hopes the L.A. camp will be dismantled without the confrontations seen elsewhere across the country.

Beck's announcement also comes after a Occupy L.A. protest that took place Downtown early Tuesday morning. About 100 noisy demonstrators marched a mile through Downtown, chanting and beating on pots and plastic pails. It was an act of solidarity with their New York Occupy Wall Street counterparts, ousted overnight. Police in New York arrested 70 people early Tuesday morning while raiding the Zuccotti Park camp where Occupy Wall Street protesters had been living for more than two months.

L.A. demonstrators gathered at midnight and marched about a mile from the Occupy L.A. encampment outside City Hall to the Nokia Theatre. Police squad cars shadowed the march and a local wire service reports the police department called a brief tactical alert. There were no arrests made.

A police sergeant says officers left at about 2 a.m. There was no sign of activity by 3:30 a.m.

The L.A. camp had been watching a projected live stream of the Zuccotti Park raid when Susan Brodbeck, 50, decided that spectating wasn't enough. Equipped with drums and the help of two friends, the unemployed protester said she rounded the camp, rousing protesters to march.

"We're thinking maybe, from what I hear, L.A. is going to be the oasis for other Occupies that are getting shut down. We're welcoming everybody to come. I hear some people from New York are planning to come out here," Brodbeck said.

Recent Occupy encampment raids and the increasing involvement and concern of police and city officials may indicate a shift in the way the protesters are handled nationwide.

L.A. officials have cited concerns over safety and the preservation of the City Hall lawn as possible reasons for a forced migration of the Downtown camp.

In New York, the National Lawyers Guild obtained a temporary court order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return with tents to Zuccotti park. This came hours after Mayor Michael Bloomberg cleared movement supporters from the park.

Bloomberg said the Occupy encampment had made the public Zuccotti Park unavailable to the rest of the city's residents. The decision to clear out and clean up the park in the middle of the night was made "to reduce the risk of confrontation," Bloomberg said.

At a morning news conference at City Hall, Bloomberg said the city knew about the court order but had not seen it and would go to court to fight it. He said the city wants to protect people's rights, but if a choice must be made, it will protect public safety.

Brian Stelter of the New York Times told KPCC's Madeleine Brand that the community submitted numerous complaints, asking for city officials to regain control of the park. Local authorities and private businesses that owned the park complained about health and safety concerns, but protesters said that the complaints were only an excuse to push the movement out.

The park was power-cleaned, cleared of protesters and, as of 6 a.m., police in riot gear still ringed the public space. The mayor says the city plans to allow the protesters back, but they will not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags or tarps and would have to follow all park rules. Stelter said the 24-hour protesting tactic is central to the movement.

"That was of course the whole purpose to begin with, the around-the-clock, never-ending protest. That was what made it so interesting and that was what captured the imagination of people that it has," Stelter said Tuesday. "So for them not to be allowed to have tents would be a totally different chapter in the story."

Also in California, Oakland officials decided to shut down the Occupy encampment due to a growing strain on city resources and incidences of violence. On Monday, Oakland police made 33 arrests during a pre-dawn raid of the camp at City Hall Plaza.

Later that night, several hundred people regrouped at the city's main library and marched back to the plaza. Police say they can assemble as long as they remain peaceful and do not try to re-establish the encampment.

Oakland officials say the city has spent an estimated $2.4 million in its efforts to contain the Occupy Oakland protests, and that they have been forced to pay overtime costs, maintain security upgrades to its information technology and open at least one winter shelter early.

Now, civil rights groups are suing the city of Oakland in an attempt to prevent police from using tear gas and other crowd control weapons on protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The Northern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild filed a lawsuit Monday seeking an emergency restraining order against the Oakland Police Department.

The groups say they need a court to intervene because "another police encounter with demonstrators is imminent" following the camp's removal.

Occupy Oakland protesters plan to join forces with activists at the University of California, Berkeley, on Tuesday, less than a week after police arrested dozens who tried to set up tents on the college campus.

Oakland activists will march to the UC campus in the afternoon as part of a campus strike and large rally organized by ReFund California, a coalition of student groups and university employee unions. The group plans to protest banks and budget cuts to education.

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

Last Wednesday, baton-wielding police clashed with protesters who tried to set up tents and arrested 40 of them as the university sought to uphold a campus ban on camping. A group of students and protesters who say they were beaten by police last week announced plans Monday to sue the university and campus police for police brutality.

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

"The events of last Wednesday are unworthy of us as a university community," Birgeneau wrote in a campus letter Monday.

Occupy Los Angeles remains peaceful. Protesters say they don't foresee violent confrontation with the police and they plan to stay put.

KPCC's Hayley Fox, Andrea Wang and the Associated Press contributed to this story. The story has been updated.

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