Occupy L.A.: Hundreds of officers prepare for eviction
Before moving in to evict protesters from their City Hall encampment, hundreds of police were preparing for the operation at a staging area outside Dodger Stadium.
In a parking lot with bright floodlights, officers with riot gear and helmets and with white plastic handcuffs hooked to their belts lined up to receive briefings from supervising officers, who explained the layout of the City Hall grounds and the surrounding streets.
One supervisor told a group of officers that they needed to be prepared for some protesters to fight back.
"They've got a bunch of concrete gravel and other [things] they're going to throw at us," he said. "Please put your face masks down and watch each other's back."
"Now go to work," he told them.
Lt. Andy Neiman, a spokesman for the department, said police had hoped to keep the operation a secret, but admitted, "the cat's out of the bag."
He said that news of the impending eviction gave protesters a chance to prepare. He said police are prepared to deal with protesters who have barricaded themselves at the camp, which some have vowed to do, and any other challenges. Among them, he said, were reports that some protesters had stored urine and feces to throw at officers.
He said police were also ready to remove protesters who had climbed into trees. In recent days, several protesters have moved into trees. One young man has constructed an elaborate tree house near the south steps of the City Hall lawn. Neiman said officers might use a cherry picker to remove him.
"In terms of the tree house, we'll deal with that as it comes. We're very much aware of the guy in the tree."
FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests
Neiman said police planned to cordon off a perimeter of several blocks around City Hall. He said that when officers move to the park, they will declare the encampment an "unlawful assembly" and give protesters a deadline to leave. Those who refuse to leave will be arrested, he said.
He said the darkness could be an impediment to the mission. "It's more difficult for us to see things, to see booby traps," he said. "Operating in the dark is never an advantage."
But he said that a nighttime operation was the best choice in this situation. "Businesses are closed, you have less traffic," he said, noting that there is a small chance of civilians getting harmed because there are fewer pedestrians downtown.
He seemed confident that the operation would not take long, and predicted that on Wednesday it would be "business as usual" downtown.
"A lot of planning has gone into this," he said.
-- Kate Linthicum
Photo: LAPD officers overlook protesters.
Credit: Andrew Blankstein / Los Angeles Times