A protester is arrested by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers after he attempted to join a group of Occupy LA demonstrators who were occupying a park in front of the Bank of America building on Nov. 17, 2011 in downtown Los Angeles. Several dozen Occupy LA demonstrators were arrested by the LAPD after marching through downtown. The protest was part of a 'Day of Action' marking the two-month anniversary of the movement that started in New York as Occupy Wall Street.
Following a morning march, police began arresting Occupy LA protesters who locked arms and set up tents, blocking the intersection of Figueroa and Fourth streets and snarling morning rush-hour traffic in the area. Later, police arrested more people during a later march that began at noon, but didn't have a permit. And then around 4:30, after a several-hour occupation of the downtown Bank of America plaza, the LAPD began arresting hold-outs and taking down their tents.
Shortly after the morning and afternoon marches, where 23 were arrested, protesters began setting up camp in the plaza. Helmeted police equipped with batons have surrounded the base of the bank tower but the protest was largely peaceful until arrests began. Ultimately, 47 were arrested there.
"In case somebody decides to break the law again, we'll provide them the opportunity to go to jail," one LAPD commander had said earlier in the day.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, hundreds of Occupy demonstrators hit the streets of downtown Los Angeles, chanting and carrying picket signs as they marched through the financial district. Protesters attached banners to overpasses and set up tents in the intersection of Figueroa and Fourth streets, snarling morning rush-hour traffic in the area.
Police declared an unlawful assembly and began issuing a dispersal order around 9 a.m; a small group remained in the street. Police began arresting those in tents blocking the street. Police removed the tents, though some protesters remained sitting in the street, waiting to be arrested. As of 10 a.m., 23 people were arrested.
Kwaze Nkrumah, outreach director of Occupy LA, has been with the movement since its beginning. He said the movement is spreading throughout the city and neighborhoods.
"Right now we're in the process of beginning to spread. [...] We're not simply Occupy City Hall, we're Occupy L.A."
Several hundred supporters lined the sidewalks as riot police moved in, in uniform fashion, and made the arrests. There was also heavy presence of organized labor groups here that helped coordinate things with police.
"I think the reality is the labor movement has to be involved in a major way," Nkrumah said. "They realize that the unions are on such heavy assault right now that their existence is at stake. What people learned is it's important to have alliances."
Earlier in the day, police arrested some protesters near Fourth and Figueroa streets in downtown Los Angeles, apparently because they tried to march to a different location than was pre-arranged by protesters who had obtained a permit.
"The march started splitting, and because of the public safety issue the concern for traffic (safety), the officers were trying to stop this march from going to streets that were not cordoned off, or blocked off," LAPD spokesman Lt. Andy Neiman told Fox 11.
Some ramps were closed by the California Highway Patrol.
Organized by Good Jobs L.A., Occupy L.A. and other groups, the march began at the Bank of America Plaza on Hope Street with protesters marching in a circle yelling, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
Demonstrators said they planned on shutting down traffic when their permit expires around 8:30 a.m. Police officers said that although they expected a peaceful demonstration, they would make arrests if necessary.
According to organizers, the march is aimed at calling on Congress to hold Wall Street accountable for fixing the nation's economy and forcing corporations and banks to pay a larger share of taxes and invest in communities to create jobs.
Another march is tentatively scheduled to begin around noon in the Civic Center area.
The downtown Los Angeles protest comes amid a week of upheaval for Occupy protesters across the country and uncertainty about the future of the Occupy L.A. encampment at City Hall. L.A. officials have said the Occupy camp will have to end eventually, although no specific plans have been announced.
Occupy L.A. protesters issued a statement on their website Wednesday saying they "have no plans to leave — we have just begun our mission."
"If L.A. Occupiers eventually exit City Hall, it would be due to Occupy L.A.'s conclusion that our work could be done more efficiently at another location," according to the group.
Protests are expected to be held throughout the day in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and other cities.
Early Thursday morning, police raided the Occupy Cal encampment in Berkeley and arrested at least two protesters, the Los Angeles Times reports.
This raid comes only two days after Police in New York City cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park. Clashes between protesters and police have occurred in Oakland and Portland during the last few weeks as tensions escalate.
KPCC's Frank Stoltze, Mike Roe and the Associated Press contributed to this story.