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Occupy L.A. forces farmer's market to move across street

October 20, 2011 | 11:12 am

Occupy LA activist cleans graffiti Oct 19

Downtown workers who have become accustomed to lunching on the grass at the weekly Thursday farmer's market outside City Hall will have to walk across the street, at least while the Occupy L.A. encampment remains on the lawn.

The farmer's market will set up shop in the plaza across Main Street from City Hall indefinitely, while the protest continues, market manager Susan Hutchinson said Thursday.

Hutchinson met with protesters and city officials after fire officials expressed concerns about leaving clear fire lanes and evacuation lanes during the market.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

Fire officials wanted some of the protesters' tents moved from the lawn while the market was in progress.

The situation put the interests of the protesters and farmer's market at odds, although representatives of both groups said they support each other in principle.

Stacey Swinne, a protester who took part in the discussions, said a majority of the protesters were in support of moving the tents as requested, but a small minority refused, fearing the city was simply trying to clear them from the lawn.

"Occupy Los Angeles is completely in solidarity with local farmers," she said. "There was no intention or desire to displace them at all."

When it became clear Wednesday that not all of the tents would be cleared, the market worked out the move.

Hutchinson said she and many of the other farmer's market representatives are sympathetic to the protesters' cause, but she was disappointed with the communication breakdown.

Some regular vendors opted not to set up Thursday because of the move.

Hutchinson said vendors were concerned about losing business because of the change in location, and the market did not experience a hoped-for influx of business last week from the protesters.

"I think the protesters were really hoping for more free food last week, and the farmers were hoping they would shop, which they didn't," Hutchinson said.

Despite the mutual disappointment, she said, "We still wish them the best."


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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: An Occupy L.A. activist cleans graffiti Wednesday from City Hall. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times