Police begin arrests at downtown L.A. protest
Police began moving in on dozens of protesters who had linked arms and set up tents in the heart of downtown Los Angeles' financial district Thursday morning.
Although more than 1,000 people marched from the base of the Bank of America building on Hope Street to the intersection of Figueroa and 4th streets, a smaller group blocked the street and ignored police orders to disperse about 9:15 a.m.
Black coverings had been placed in some windows in the lobby of the Bank of America building, and security was tight.
One man who worked there stood in a suit inside the lobby, looking out at the crowd, who shouted slogans like, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
"I'm a bankruptcy lawyer, so I understand what they're talking about," he said. "I understand they've got to get a dialogue started. They have a point and nobody's listening."
Outside, standing on a ledge in front of a large sign for the bank, stood "Wild" Bill Fisher, strumming his guitar.
Fisher said he was an iron worker who has been out of work for years and came to Los Angeles to busk after his unemployment ran out.
"We need to end the wars, and we need to create some damn jobs, he said. "There's got to be money out there for our infrastructure. Our roads need to be improved, and half our federal buildings are falling down."
The march kicked off at just before 8 a.m. Protesters moved through a plaza at the Wells Fargo Center and past offices of Charles Schwab and City National Bank. A group of police on bicycles and an army of journalists swarmed and several TV news helicopters hovered overhead.
Marchers included members of the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the group MoveOn.org, and Occupy L.A.
Organizer Jacob Hay, whose group Good Jobs LA, has launched several protests in the financial district lately, said the Occupy movement had helped galvanize support for the ideas that unions have been promoting for years.
"They've kind of provided the drumbeat for what these other groups have been talking about for some time," Hay said.
-- Kate Linthicum
Photo: Protester arrested in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: KTLA