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Police tight-lipped on strategy for clearing Occupy LA encampment

November 27, 2011 |  9:48 pm

Although Occupy L.A. participants on Sunday vowed to defy an order to abandon their City Hall encampment, police said they are still hoping to clear the park without a violent confrontation.

The city has notified protesters that City Hall Park will be closed beginning at midnight Sunday, setting the stage for a possible showdown between police and demonstrators.

“We still hoping that they will respect the 12:00 deadline that they’ve been given,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith told a KCAL 9 reporter, standing outside police headquarters across the street from the Occupy encampment.

PHOTOS: Occupy L.A.

“We’ve learned from lot of our own mistakes in the past several years,” Smith said. “We’ve done a lot of training with our officers. The good news is that we’ve maintained a good dialogue … with the people across the street, stressing nonviolence. We hope that continues.”

But Smith declined to discuss what the police strategy would be or whether evictions would begin immediately after midnight.

“We don’t discuss tactics,” he said. “Our policy has always been to not broadcast our strategy in advance.”

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests

Earlier, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement saying Occupy LA protesters would have "ample time" to leave before police begin clearing their tent village.

"Though the park will officially close tonight at 12:01 a.m., the department will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption," Villaraigosa said in a  written statement Sunday night.

The mayor reiterated his earlier statements that the seven-week occupation of City Hall's south lawn had run its course and that it was time for protesters to move on.

But some protesters have vowed to stay put.


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

--Carlos Lozano

Photo: LAPD officers talk with an Occupy LA protester just a few hours before the midnight deadline for the occupiers to pack up their tents and vacate the area. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times