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Ear-biting attack involving Occupy protester probed by LAPD

Jose NavarroAuthorities are trying to sort out an altercation in which a protester associated with Occupy L.A. allegedly bit the ear of a security guard in Pershing Square.

The protester was later arrested, and police are investigating the incident.

Los Angeles police sources said the incident began when Jose Navarro, 20, approached a private security guard Tuesday and began yelling at him. At one point, the sources said, Navarro allegedly spat on the guard and punched him, sparking a scuffle that drew additional security guards to the area.

As the guards tried to take Navarro into custody, he allegedly bit the ear of the first security guard, clamping down until he was pulled off, the sources said. Navarro was able to break free from the group and, with the help of others, run away, they said.

The guard suffered a two-inch gash to his ear that required half a dozen stitches to close, the sources said.

Navarro was spotted in the square Thursday morning and arrested after LAPD officers cornered him in a nearby parking garage, the sources said. They said he lowered his shoulder and unsuccessfully tried to run through police before he was taken into custody.

An LAPD flier identified Navarro as "an associate of Occupy L.A." known to frequent the square. The flier said he has previous arrests for resisting police; jail records showed he was arrested in July.

Pershing Square has become a source of concern for the LAPD in recent weeks as officers have noted an increase in drinking and narcotics use, along with public defecation, police sources said. Crime is up significantly in the area, they added, and more LAPD officers and private security have been shifted to the area as a result.

But those authorities, along with firefighters, have faced increasing hostility when called to the square, sources said.

Pershing Square has been the base of Occupy L.A.'s operations since protesters were cleared off City Hall's lawn last winter. Two people were arrested at the square a week ago: one man on an outstanding warrant, and a protester accused of assaulting a member of Occupy Oakland during a fight over the quality of the Los Angeles man's chalking.

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

Photo: Jose Navarro. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department

 
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