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Occupy L.A. plans protest tonight outside downtown business event

July 24, 2012 |  3:22 pm

Occupy L.A.

Occupy Los Angeles protesters are planning a demonstration Tuesday outside a reception hosted by one of the city’s most prominent business groups.

The Central City Assn., which lobbies on behalf of downtown business owners as well as banks and larger corporations, is throwing a party for the chiefs of staff of elected officials on the Los Angeles City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

The event is being held at a sushi bar and cocktail lounge on the 21st floor of a downtown high-rise on Wilshire Boulevard. Protesters are planning carry signs, play drums and perform street theater outside the event, which has been publicized by the business group.

Occupy activists have been targeting the group since early June, when they came together with the Los Angeles Community Action Network -- an organization that advocates for homeless and low-income residents -- to set up a nightly encampment outside the Central City Assn.’s downtown headquarters.

The Central City Assn. and business owners in the area accuse the protesters of bringing crime and vandalism to a community working to restore life to downtown buildings that have long stood vacant. Tensions came to a head this month at the downtown ArtWalk, when 17 people were arrested after police moved in on a group of protesters chalking the sidewalks.

On Tuesday morning, those tensions spilled into City Hall, when nearly a dozen business owners appeared at a City Council meeting to complain about the protesters.

John Edwards, the organizer of a weekly farmers market at Pershing Square park, said loitering protesters have hurt sales by 50%.

Developer Tom Gilmore, whose conversion of old bank buildings along Main Street into lofts helped spark the revitalization of the area, said the protesters actions constitute “an attack on the downtown community.”

“And we need this council to response to that attack,” he said.


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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Tents of Occupy L.A. protesters lined up in downtown Los Angeles outside the offices of the Central City Assn. in July. Credit: Ariana van den Akker / Los Angeles Times