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Occupy L.A.: Police step up presence as supporters converge on City Hall

November 28, 2011 | 12:56 am

Police in helmets and face shields with batons drawn blocked a downtown intersection near City Hall early Monday morning, blocking a group of Occupy L.A. protesters who had swarmed onto the street and vowed to stand their ground.

Some in the group began chanting "Back to the park!" an imperative many of the protesters seemed to follow.

So went the first hour after a deadline to clear the park outside City Hall passed as thousounds of Occupy L.A. supporters converged on the site where protesters have been camping for seven weeks.

PHOTOS: Occupy L.A. eviction

The encampment is across the street from LAPD headquarters. The department was on tactical alert after the midnight deadline for protesters to get out of the park had passed.

Deputy Chief Jose Perez confirmed the tactical alert, which means that officers currently on duty are held over until they are released and police do not respond to low-priority radio calls.

Hundreds of protesters and supporters gathered at the Occupy L.A. site on the lawn of City Hall on Monday morning after the midnight deadline to clear out had come and gone, but no arrestes had been made.

Emilio Arreola, 25, of Long Beach, said he has been camping at City Hall Park since the demonstration began seven weeks ago. He said people are tired of what they see as economic injustice on Wall Street.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

"It's what's going on with these corporations, they way they take advantage of us," he said,

Arreola said he had already packed his tent in his car because he feared police might destroy it. He said he was skeptical about the possibility of mass arrests.

The city had set a midnight deadline to close the park, setting up a possible showdown with demonstrators. But police were vague about when they would start evicting people.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests around the nation

City councilman urges Occupy L.A. to move indoors, into politics

Occupy L.A. campers play, pray as city’s midnight deadline looms

-- Joel Rubin and Nicole Santa Cruz at L.A. City Hall

Photo: LAPD officers move into position on First and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles Monday morning. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times