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Mayor Villaraigosa: Occupy L.A. 'cannot continue indefinitely'

Occupy Los Angeles

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday that the Occupy Los Angeles encampment outside City Hall "cannot continue indefinitely" and has asked city officials to draft restrictions limiting when people are allowed on city property.

"I respect the protesters' right to peacefully assemble and express their views," Villaraigosa said. "City officials have been in a continuous and open dialogue with the organizers of Occupy L.A. However, the protesters must respect city laws and regulations, and while they have been allowed to camp on City Hall lawns, that cannot continue indefinitely."

A spokeswoman for the mayor said he has also instructed city officials to begin drafting a plan to identify another location for the demonstration.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

In an interview Wednesday, the mayor said county health inspectors recently visited the encampment and expressed concerns over the cleanliness of the camp. In addition, the demonstration is hurting the city’s lawn and trees.

"The lawn is dead, our sprinklers aren't working ... our trees are without water," Villaraigosa said.

He said he has instructed city officials to begin drafting restrictions limiting when people are allowed at City Hall. That could lay the groundwork for the city to force protesters to abandon the tent city surrounding City Hall where they’ve been camped for nearly a month.

It was not clear how the proposed rules would be different from a current law that bars people from camping in city parks after 10:30 p.m. Police have not been enforcing that law at City Hall and have allowed the 350 or so nightly protesters to camp there overnight.

On Wednesday, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich said police should impose the park law.  

"To protect the public health and safety of all residents, the LAPD and General Services Police can and should enforce the law in a fair, consistent, and even-handed manner,” Trutanich said. “The law addresses conduct. Enforcement may not be based on the content of any political or personal opinion or message." 

Meanwhile, about  a dozen protesters showed up at Wednesday’s City Council meeting to ask lawmakers to allow them to stay. Protester Alex Everett, 26, said he came because he was alarmed by Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s comments to KABC that it was time for protesters “to move on.”

Everett, who moved out of his house and into a tent outside of City Hall two weeks ago, said he thinks many protesters would not leave without a fight. He said if police move in to clear out the protest, like Oakland police did Tuesday, “it will be violent.”

Everett said protesters don’t have a shared vision of how the demonstrations around the country will go forward, and whether or not the emphasis should be on maintaining camps or on trying to elect lawmakers, or get certain financial regulations enacted.

"Victory is different to different people," he said.

Although he believes the occupations will "taper down eventually," Everett said: "This movement's never going to end."

RELATED:

Oakland plans to reopen plaza for protesting -- not camping

Atlanta, Oakland arrests show impatience with Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Oakland: Video shows wounded protester after police clash

-- Kate Linthicum at City Hall

Photo: Tents on the First Street side of Los Angeles City Hall on Wednesday morning. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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