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Occupy L.A. protesters plan to expand their encampment

Occupy L.A. protesters

Occupy L.A. protesters camped outside City Hall plan to expand their demonstration to other downtown city property, perhaps as early as Wednesday evening.

Demonstration organizer Mario Brito said protesters may set up a satellite encampment at Fletcher Bowron Square, a concrete plaza cater-corner from City Hall that is a popular daytime hangout for homeless people.

Brito said he spoke to an assistant Los Angeles Police Department chief who supported the move, although Cmdr. Andrew Smith refuted that. He said the protesters' proposed expansion does not have the blessings of police.

"We’ve heard stories that they’re going to increase the area that they’re going to occupy," Smith said. "We’ve even heard that they want to camp out here at LAPD, which ain’t going to happen."

It has been nearly three weeks since several dozen people pitched tents outside City Hall to protest economic policies that they say favor the rich. Demonstrators say about 700 people now stay there each night -- including a sizable homeless population -- and there isn’t room for many more.

According to city officials, protesters have trampled the lawn. On Wednesday, officials said that reviving it could cost the city as much as $400,000.

Reviving the grass may require sod replacement and repair to some of the more than 350 sprinklers on the lawn, said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks.

He said a precise estimate was impossible because the growing encampment has kept city crews from inspecting any damage.

The city already has incurred $45,000 in other costs related to the demonstration, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, including thousands of dollars in overtime pay for General Services police. Eight Los Angeles Police Department officers also have been deployed to monitor the protest full time.

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-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Occupy L.A. protesters march Wednesday night in downtown Los Angeles.

Credit: Getty Images

 
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