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Occupy L.A.: Police seal off Civic Center; fireworks are launched

Lvgmvvp7Los Angeles police were moving into the Civic Center Tuesday night, closing off a large area around the Occupy L.A. encampment.

The LAPD has closed off an area from Temple Street on the north to 3rd Street on the south and Alameda Street on the east and Broadway on the west.

An LAPD helicopter announced the commencement of the department's action, swooping down low and incessantly circling the City Hall steps on which hundreds of protesters had gathered.

Occupy L.A.: Photos | 360° photos | Video | Live webcam

It flooded the camp with light from its high-powered search light and the din from its propellers threatened to drown out a chant of "occupy LA, all day, all night!" by the protesters.

Someone then launched fireworks over the camp.

Officials also issued a citywide tactical alert.  Los Angeles police have not said when they will evict the protesters. An LAPD email alert said the tactical alert was "due to unusual occurrence in downtown L.A." The LAPD was beginning to put up traffic barriers along streets around City Hall.

Several people reported seeing large numbers of police cars driving into Dodger Stadium, where officers were apparently gathering.

Some activists placed trash and recycling bins to block the main entrance to the lawn, saying they saw the barrier as some level of protection against the expected eviction.

The LAPD set a Monday morning deadline for the protesters to leave.

At a meeting of demonstrators Tuesday evening, organizers said that it was "very probable" that some kind of raid will occur Tuesday. They did not reveal the source of the information.

An excited man ran through the camp screaming "the cops are coming from the northeast side! The cops are coming!" His Paul Revere-like sprint set the camp ablaze with nervous talking.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided that it was time to evict Occupy L.A. protesters from the City Hall lawn after learning that there were children staying there.

Given the smattering of assaults and other incidents reported at the camp, “the chaos out there could produce something awful,” he said in an interview with The Times.

The mayor, a former union organizer and president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck jointly made the decision to allow overnight camping on the lawn in hopes of charting a “different path” with protesters. That was, he said, in part because he respects many of their views.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

Many at the tent city--which grew to include its own library, multitude of committees and even a schedule of yoga classes--were drawn by outrage at economic policies that they say favor the rich. But many also pledge allegiance to a variety of other causes, including legalizing marijuana and ending the Federal Reserve.

RELATED:

Protesters vow to stand their ground at Occupy L.A.

Occupy L.A. protesters set up barriers to block police

LAPD on tactical alert; Occupy protesters say eviction imminent

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Occupy L.A. protesters look towards a helicopter as they prepare for an anticipated police action at the encampment.

Credit: Wally Skalij / 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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