Occupy L.A. should not have dragged on, some officials say
Los Angeles' elected officials were largely in sync in their praise of the police department's overnight raid of Occupy L.A., but two councilmen said the encampment should not have been allowed to drag on for so many weeks.
"Two months is way too long to occupy a park, way too long," Councilman Dennis Zine said. "It's a public park. It's open to the public. The [weekly] farmers’ market had to relocate. The movie industry stopped filming here. There were a lot of issues affected by this."
Councilman Bernard C. Parks had a similar view, saying he believes the city will now have a much harder time enforcing its ordinance barring overnight camping in its parks. If other groups request the city’s permission to stage their own protest, they will have Occupy L.A. as a precedent and "it will be difficult, almost impossible, to invoke that law," he said.
"We should have never gotten" to the point where an encampment was allowed overnight, Parks added. "And I think every major American city has come to that same conclusion."
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa defended the decision to allow the protesters to take over the 1.6-acre park for two months, saying that protecting the right to free speech is expensive.
"The 1st Amendment is messy. It's not always pretty. There's sometimes a cost to it. What's the cost if we deny the 1st Amendment to America and Americans?"
-- David Zahniser and John Hoeffel at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Sanitation workers start the daunting task of clearing all the debris left behind by Occupy L.A. protesters after Los Angeles police cleared out the camp at City Hall early Wednesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times