Occupy L.A.: LAPD too violent, some protesters allege
Los Angeles police are being praised for their planning, outreach and judicious use of force in ousting the Occupy L.A. encampment Wednesday morning, but a few protesters are reporting more physical confrontations with some of the 1,400 officers.
In a KCAL 9 video, now posted on YouTube, Tyson Heder, 35, was taking pictures of the eviction, when a police officer shoved him away. The video showed Heder then standing up, yelling at the officer, then being forced to the ground by several policemen.
His sister, Christy Collins, said Heder was in custody Wednesday morning.
Collins, who lives in Albany, N.Y., said she got an emotional phone message from him some time after his arrest. He posted on Facebook, "They beat me and stole my camera." Collin said her brother had not been an Occupy participant previously and apparently went to the encampment Tuesday night just to take pictures.
"I do think it was horrible and excessive," Collins said after watching a video of the encounter. "But I have to say, I was relieved it wasn't worse once I saw it."
[Updated at 11:46 a.m. Nov. 30: In response to complaints about police actions, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber said in a statement:
It is unfortunate that our society has come to the place where a lawful command from an officer goes ignored. Oftentimes, as was the case at the Occupy L.A. camp, this sets in motion a regrettable series of events. As the League has maintained, when a dangerous individual refuses police orders to end the threat they are posing to the safety of officers and the public, they subject themselves to the consequences of their actions. While some may complain about the LAPD tactics, Los Angeles business and political leaders are already commending the officers for effectively and efficiently ending Occupy L.A. at City Hall with minimum use of force.]
Ruth Fowler, an Occupy protester, blogged that officers beat some protesters who were running away from them on Alameda Street between 1st and 2nd streets.
"The violence I witnessed was pretty intense," she wrote. Officers "wanted to hurt people. They were running and beating people who were simply RUNNING away, trying to escape!"
Still, most had praise for authorities, who arrested more than 200 protesters.
Pam Noles, an observer with the National Lawyers Guild, which has advised the protesters, gave high marks to police and protesters during the eviction.
"I would have to say honestly that the LAPD had their A game on," Noles said, adding that protesters should also be given credit for remaining nonviolent and not giving police any excuse to use force. "I was really proud of the occupiers who stood on message, stood on discipline and stood on faith. Both sides did what they had to do."
Overnight, more than 1,400 police swooped in to clear out the encampment. Police arrived in force and within minutes had encircled the park. Most protesters chose to leave on their own, but others remained behind.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa toured the park early Wednesday and praised Police Chief Charlie Beck and his officers.
"I said that here in L.A. we'd chart a different path, and we did," Villaraigosa said.
The mayor credited Beck's community-policing approach, noting that the chief and his officers had established a relationship with the Occupy protesters at the beginning of the encampment.
[For the record, 11:41 a.m. Nov. 30: An earlier version of this post incorrectly gave an age of 25 for Tyson Heder, the man involved in a physical confrontation with police.]
-- Sam Quinones and Abby Sewell
Photo: LAPD officers arrest an Occupy LA protester near the encampment at City Hall early Wednesday.
Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times