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Occupy L.A. walks out of meeting with city after eviction threat

Occupy Los Angeles encampment
Occupy L.A. protesters walked out of a meeting with city officials Wednesday after they announced plans to evict the protesters sometime next week, according to several protesters at the meeting.

Protester Jim Lafferty said city representatives told them that they plan to announce the eviction date to the public soon. He said officials promised to give demonstrators at least 72 hours notice before the eviction.

Lafferty, director of the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, relayed the news to the rest of the camp on the south steps of City Hall. He said he walked out of the meeting in anger after the announcement and told city officials they "have not been operating with good faith."

PHOTOS: Occupy protests around the nation

The office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose staff members are leading the talks, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Tuesday night, a spokesman for Villaraigosa would not comment on the date, saying only, "We're still in negotiations, and no date or deal points have been firmly established."

According to Lafferty and others who have been in the negotiations in recent days, officials earlier this week offered the protesters work space in a city building, along with other incentives, to encourage them to peacefully abandon their camp.

But protesters said city officials on Tuesday wavered on that offer. Lafferty said the city had not given the liaisons enough time to discuss the offer with the protesters.

"They are not willing to give us time to have that discussion," Lafferty told the protesters. "I said, 'The democratic practice here may be slow but it is beautiful and it works.'"

Lafferty and Mario Brito, another city liaison, also talked about strategies for dealing with the eviction.

Lafferty explained that if a protester goes limp while being arrested, he or she may be charged with resisting arrest. Brito urged nonviolence, and said protesters should rid the camp of marijuana and other drugs so that police don't discover them while evicting protesters.

"I'm urging you to do what needs to be done to clean up this camp," he said.

Lafferty said that when it comes time for eviction, a representative from the Los Angeles Police Department "promised not to do what they did at UC Davis," where campus police used pepper spray while evicting protesters.

Lafferty said the National Lawyers Guild would work to defend the protest, and said it would continue even if demonstrators are forced off of City Hall Lawn.

"This movement is bigger than this dead grass," he said.

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-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: The Los Angeles County Hall of Justice is the backdrop for tents along Temple Street at the corner of Spring Street on the north lawn of Los Angeles City Hall.

Credit: Al Seib / 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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