Police: Occupy L.A. protesters on streets at 4 a.m. will be arrested
Police will begin arresting Occupy L.A. protesters who are lingering on the streets at 4 a.m., an LAPD commander said early Monday.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said he hoped protesters would choose to leave and was attempting to convey that message to the campers.
"Hopefully we can do it the easy way and not the hard way," he said.
People milled around First Street and some laid down in the street. No arrests had yet been made, Smith said.
As word spread of the 4 a.m. deadline people began chanting: "Our street!"
The police department has been on tactical alert since a midnight deadline for protesters to clear the park came and went. But despite a faceoff on the streets surrounding City Hall and LAPD headquarters during the early morning hours, the close-the-camp effort has remained relatively peaceful.
As the morning wore on, police officials were working to get the word out to protesters that arrests were imminent, unless they returned to the park or left the site altogether.
Hundreds of protesters and supporters gathered at the Occupy L.A. site on the lawn of City Hall Monday morning after the midnight deadline passed, but no arrests had been made.
One man shouted "This ain't Mardi Gras," as he attempted to usher people out of the street.
Moments earlier Cmdr. Andrew Smith with the LAPD would not give specifics about what tactics police would use to evict protesters but said notices or citations would not be handed out, but people would be arrested.
As police in New York and Oakland and at UC Davis and UC Berkeley have come under criticism for what some consider heavy-handed treatment of Occupy protesters, LAPD Cheif Charlie Beck has said he is determined for things to go more smoothly in Los Angeles where protesters have been camping out at City Hall for the past two months.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz at City Hall
Photo: An Occupy L.A. protester reads a Stephen King novel in front of a line of police officers in downtown Los Angeles early Monday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times