Occupy L.A.: Villaraigosa won't say when camp will be cleared
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday praised both Occupy L.A. protesters and the Los Angeles police for a largely peaceful confrontation overnight but said it's still the city's plan to move out the camp on the lawn of City Hall.
Speaking on MSNBC, the mayor would not say exactly when the camp would be cleared. When asked whether the eviction would occur sometime Monday, he said the action would occur "when it is safe for the officers."
"We are working to make sure we have as orderly and peaceful a departure as possible," the mayor said. "Camping out is not healthy."
Villaraigosa said he was "empathetic" to the issues raised by the Occupy L.A. protesters and was proud the city was not having the violence clashes seen in other citied. He said the LAPD's actions "make us all proud."
Police arrested several people this morning.
When the LAPD announced that it wanted the campers out by midnight Sunday, officials hoped many protesters would leave voluntarily. Instead, the deadline prompted hundreds of people to converge on the area.
An estimated 1,000 protesters blocked streets around City Hall, creating a standoff with authorities.
Shortly after 5 a.m., police ordered demonstrators gathered at the intersection of 1st and Main streets to disperse. Most people complied, but a few refused to leave.
At one point, some protesters started throwing objects at police. Several people were then arrested; one person was carried away by officers.
Police said there were still no plans to begin evicting people from the park around City Hall, which was officially closed at midnight. They said their main intention was to clear the streets for morning commuters.
— Rick Rojas, Hailey Branson-Potts and Nicole Santa Cruz at City Hall
Photo: Occupy L.A. demonstrators lie at their tent near the south steps of City Hall after a night of protests. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times