Calm prevails as Occupy deadlines pass in 2 cities

By Geoff Mulvihill

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 5:25 a.m. MST

Wall Street protesters dance to music as they remain at the camp in front of Los Angeles City Hall in Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stated Friday that the protestors's campsite will be dismantled, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Jason Redmond, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

LOS ANGELES — Deadlines for Wall Street protesters to leave their encampments came and went in two cities with no arrests in Philadelphia and a festive, party-like atmosphere as protesters in Los Angeles defied the order clear out early Monday.

Protesters defied the mayor's deadline to vacate their encampment near City Hall in Los Angeles, with about 1,000 flooding into the area as hundreds of tents remained standing as they have for nearly two months.

A celebratory atmosphere filled the night with protesters milling about the park and streets by City Hall in seeming good spirits. A group on bicycles circled the block, one of them in a cow suit. Organizers led chants with a bull horn.

"The best way to keep a non-violent movement non-violent is to throw a party, and keep it festive and atmospheric," said Brian Masterson.

Police presence was slight right after the 12:01 a.m. PST Monday deadline, but it began increasing as the morning wore on. At the same time, the number of protesters dwindled.

"People have been pretty cooperative tonight. We want to keep it peaceful," police Cmdr. Andrew Smith told The Associated Press.

He refused to discuss how or when police will move to clear the park, but he said: "We're going to do this as gently as we possibly can. Our goal is not to have anybody arrested. Our goal is not to have to use force."

A deadline set by the city for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the site where it has camped for nearly two months passed Sunday without any arrests.

The reactions to the expired deadlines in Los Angeles and Philadelphia were far different from those in other cities in recent weeks, where pepper spray, tear gas and police action have been used in the removal of long-situated demonstrators since the movement against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.

Dozens of tents remained at the encampment outside Philadelphia's City Hall Monday morning, twelve hours after a city-imposed deadline passed for the protesters to move to make way for a construction project.

No arrests were immediately reported Monday. The camp appeared mostly quiet amid a heavy police presence, but around 5 a.m. EST a handful of people were marching one of the city's main business corridors banging drums.

The scene outside City Hall was quiet most of the day Sunday. But the sound of protesters' drumming did bring complaints from several people living in nearby high-rise apartment buildings.

In Los Angeles, by 2:30 a.m., most protesters had moved from the camp site in the park to the streets. That put them technically in compliance with the mayor's eviction order, but could lead to confrontation with police if they try to clear the streets.

There have so far been no arrests or reports of violence.

"We're still here, it's after 12, ain't nobody throwing anything at the cops, they haven't come in and broken anyone's noses yet, so it's a beautiful thing," said Adam Rice, a protester standing across the street from police in riot gear.

In Philadelphia, along the steps leading into a plaza, about 50 people sat in lines Sunday with the promise that they would not leave unless they were carried out by authorities. For a time, they linked arms. But as it seemed that a forceful ouster was not imminent, they relaxed a bit. A police presence was heavier than usual but no orders to leave had been issued.

A few dozen tents remained scattered on the plaza, along with trash, piles of dirty blankets and numerous signs reading, "You can't evict an idea."

Several hundred supporters surrounded those who were prepared to face arrest for one of the Occupy movement meetings known as a general assembly.

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