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Occupy L.A.: Police in riot gear set up near City Hall

November 30, 2011 | 12:13 am

Click here to see more photos.Outside Los Angeles police headquarters, about two dozen police in riot gear stood facing City Hall, awaiting orders. Nearby, members of an arson team gathered.

Police Officer Sarah Faden said they were there in case of a fire -- from explosives or even fireworks. Earlier, protesters had set off fireworks, she said.

Police were distributing latex gloves, because, according to one officer, there had been reports of staph infections at the camp. Officer Faden said those reports had not been confirmed by police, but that the gloves were a precaution.

Occupy L.A.: Photos | 360° photos | Video | Live webcam

Inside headquarters, officers and other police personnel could be seen peering out of the building's floor-to-ceiling windows at the scene below.

A large throng of protesters flooded 1st Street, in between the police building and City Hall, shouting, "We are the 99%!" 

Some held candles, others wore bandanas as masks. Twenty-eight-year-old Sam Gray, an Army veteran, wore military fatigues.

Gray said he is angry that the city "took its word back." City officials at first welcomed the protesters, but last week Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that City Hall Park would close early Monday, and police would enforce the closure when they saw fit.

Gray, who has been at the protest since its beginning, said he felt the impending eviction violated protesters' free speech rights.

"I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and in my opinion, the police are trampling on it," he said.

He said he hadn't decided whether to stay after police declared the assembly unlawful -- and be arrested.

He hoped to document the police action with his camera, and perhaps give medical attention, if  needed.

"I'm trained as a medic," he said. "I'm going to stay on my feet and see."


Protesters vow to stand their ground at Occupy L.A.

Occupy L.A. protesters set up barriers to block police

LAPD on tactical alert; Occupy protesters say eviction imminent

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: An LAPD officer removes a tent near the Occupy L.A. encampment at City Hall.

Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times