Occupy L.A.: Police begin making arrests
Shortly before 1 a.m., Los Angeles police began making their first arrests of Occupy L.A. protesters who failed to disperse.
One demonstrator standing near Main Street stood calmly while he was handcuffed, surrounded by five officers. One took his picture with a digital camera, which Officer Sarah Faden said police plan to do with every arrestee.
In the middle of the City Hall plaza, more than two dozen protesters sat with arms linked around a tent. Protester Alex Everett, 26, stood in front of them. "I'm ready to be arrested," he said. "I'm surprised there's this many cops for a peaceful assembly."
Meanwhile, police demanded that all media not a part of the designated pool leave the area. Photographer Ian Perez, who said he is a student, was one of them. He said he was willing to get arrested to document the events.
Protesters angry at the exclusion of the media shouted: "This is what a media blackout looks like!"
An officer was addressing the group of protesters in the plaza, which they are calling "a circle of peace." He told them that anybody who wanted to stand up and get arrested without resisting could.
One protester told him: "If you give me a hug, I will leave right now."
"Are you serious?" the officer asked with a smile. He appeared for a moment ready to comply, but then moved away.
Several members of the clergy were escorted by police toward the protesters. They appeared there to persuade the protesters to leave peacefully.
TV footage showed police putting several protesters in plastic handcuffs inside the camp. Some of the arrestees were being move into City Hall. Others were being loaded onto buses.
Evicted protesters were being offered a home at La Placita Olvera Church at 536 N. Main Street.
The Los Angeles Police Department has told the hundreds of remaining protesters that they must leave right away or face arrest.
Protestors chanted: "This is what a police state looks like."
Columns of police moved from several sides into the camp, which has been the subject of much debate across Los Angeles since it was set up nearly eight weeks ago. Lines of officers came from inside City Hall, forcing hundreds of protesters onto the south lawn and quickly encircling them.
The protesters were essentially trapped in the park. They linked arms as the officers moved in. Some chanted "We are peaceful" and "We are the 99%."
Police tore down a large plastic structure on a stairwell and pulled out large bags of cement that protesters had placed in some tents.
The LAPD strategy appeared to be to trap protesters inside the park, sometimes pushing them with batons but not appearing to strike them. Some officers were armed with bean-bag rifles.
-- Kate Linthicum, Jason Song and Ricardo Lopez
Photo: LAPD officers arrest a woman early Wednesday as protesters were cleared from the Occupy L.A. encampment area around City Hall. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times