Occupy L.A.: Tents begin to come down
As some Los Angeles police officers made arrests, others began the task of tearing down the scores of tents dotting the south lawn of City Hall.
Several police yanked down one of the more sturdy structures held up by four thick posts, stomping on the legs until they bent and the tent collapsed.
The City Hall park was a sea of LAPD blue. There were police lined on the walkways as well as every other part of the park. They were working to dismantle tents in which protesters may have been hiding. They made quick work of the task -- most of the tents are now simply piles of ripped fabric and poles.
Police were also trying to get down two protesters standing atop an impressive three-story treehouse built in a cluster of palm trees right outside Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office.
There were protesters in several trees. One nearly fell out when the branch he was standing on collapsed, but instead of coming down, he climbed higher up.
Police were aiming at him and another protester in the tree with a rifle. Officer Norma Eisenman said it was filled with rubber bullets.
The protesters, with their arms linked, shouted, "Don't shoot!"
"You are on the wrong side!" one of them shouted at police.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the following statement:
"At approximately 12:30 a.m., the LAPD began enforcing the closure of City Hall Park after giving those in the park a final opportunity to leave without facing arrest.
"We have taken a measured approach to enforcing the park closure because we have wanted to give people every opportunity to leave peacefully. I ask that anyone who remains in the park to please leave voluntarily.
"Our approach also recognized the human need in the encampment. Since the park closure was announced on Friday, outreach workers with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority have walked through the park, assessing needs and connecting interested individuals in need with an alternative place to spend the night.
"During the park closure, a 1st Amendment area will remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps.
"Once the park is cleared, it will be repaired and returned to all Angelenos to exercise their 1st Amendment rights."
-- Kate Linthicum and Joel Rubin
Photo: LAPD officers head into the Occupy L.A. encampment around City Hall early Wednesday.
Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times