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L.A. might sue Occupy L.A. protesters for financial damages

December 24, 2011 |  9:28 am

The Occupy L.A. encampment on Oct. 25.

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is considering a lawsuit against Occupy L.A. protesters to reimburse the city for damage caused during the occupation of the City Hall lawn.

"The city is contemplating any and all of its options," said William Carter, Trutanich's chief deputy.

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The two-month encampment cost the city at least $2.35 million, not counting repairs to the lawn and fountain outside City Hall, according to a report issued Friday.

Much of that cost -- more than $1.7 million -- will be added to the growing pool of red ink in this year's city budget. The Occupy bills will increase an anticipated $72-million shortfall over the next six months, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said.

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"In isolation, the cost is manageable. But in the context of a $72-million problem, it only made our challenge bigger," said Santana, the city's top budget analyst.

The Los Angeles Police Department, which raided the camp Nov. 30 and arrested nearly 300 people, spent an estimated $1.2 million on overtime pay as a result of the demonstration and subsequent sweep, Santana said in his preliminary report. The General Services Department's police force, which patrols city parks and buildings, racked up an additional $335,000 of overtime.

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Carlos Marroquin, a representative of Occupy L.A., called the figures "outrageous" and argued that the city should have set aside money for special events and protests. He accused city leaders of trying to make the Occupy movement a scapegoat and described the intense police response, which involved 1,400 officers, as unnecessary.

"This was a peaceful movement," he said. "They're the ones that decided to use that amount of police, that amount of force."


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-- David Zahniser

Photo: The Occupy L.A. encampment on Oct. 25. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times