Occupy LA eviction deadline passes, protesters remain

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The deadline for Occupy L.A. protesters to evacuate their encampment at City Hall passed relatively peacefully Monday morning. As of 3 a.m., Los Angeles police had yet to forcibly evict protesters. There were no reports of arrests.

"No violence and no arrests," LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told KPCC's Eric Richardson. "So far so good."

As the 12:01 a.m. deadline passed with no movement by police to evict the camp, demonstrators began flowing into the surrounding streets in an apparent attempt to block them. Police in riot gear moved in as the crowd chanted "Whose streets? Our streets!"

LAPD responded by cordoning off the thoroughfare around City Hall and warning those in the street that they risked arrest if they remained there, prompting another chant: "Back to the park!"

Among the oldest members at City Hall Monday morning was 90-year-old Edwin B. Stegman. The longtime lawyer was one of thousands who joined the protesters Sunday evening. He told KPCC reporter Frank Stoltze that it was a "perfect night for a riot."

LAPD issued a tactical alert Monday as the deadline passed, allowing the department to keep extra officers on duty. So far, the police have been tight-lipped about how they plan to evict the nearly two month-old encampment.

Commander Smith told press that the department "will not discuss what our timetable is or what our tactics are."

Earlier Sunday, Mayor Villaraigosa said in a statement that protesters would have "ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption."

Protesters gathered on the lawn of City Hall all throughout Sunday to plan their reaction. Some took down their tents in anticipation of an eviction. Others, incited by the mayor's call, put new tents up. At a meeting, organizers called for a December 12 "occupation" of Los Angeles ports.

"The coalition stands in solidarity with all west coast occupations that will take place in key west coast ports and cities on this day," organizers said in a statement. "The intention is to effectively disrupt the capital flow and profits of the 1 percent in the billions of dollars."

The Occupy L.A. encampment has been in place since October 1st, inspired by the "occupy" encampment that sprouted first at New York's Wall Street, and spread from there to locations throughout the country.

Demonstrators originally gathered to protest what they consider the unfair wealth disparity in the United States. After several attempts at negotiations between City Hall and Occupy L.A. representatives, Mayor Villaraigosa announced Friday afternoon that protesters would have to evacuate the premises, citing sanitation and safety concerns. Many have vowed to stay put.

With contributions from Frank Stoltze, Grant Slater, Eric Richardson, and Eric Zassenhaus

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