Philly calm but 4 arrested in LA after deadlines

By Geoff Mulvihill

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

A Los Angeles Police officer looks on near the illuminated city hall as a large group of anti-Wall Street protesters remain at the Wall Street protesters camp in Los Angeles shortly after midnight Monday, Nov. 28, 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 but four people taken into custody in Los Angeles several hours after the midnight deadline passed.

LA police reopened a downtown street Monday where hundreds of Wall Street protesters held an early morning protest that was mainly peaceful. The four people were arrested for failure to disperse and a few protesters tossed bamboo sticks and water bottles at officers, said Cmdr. Andy Smith.

No injuries were reported. Police withdrew and cars were moving as the morning commuter rush began.

Protesters have been camping out near City Hall for nearly two months and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had given a midnight deadline for them to leave. But protesters began flooding into the streets before the deadline and some are declaring a small victory, saying they'll remain for now.

Police reopened First Street and won't raid the camp anytime soon, Smith said. A number of officers were sent home after having accrued overtime costs. Smith said he hopes about 200 protesters will remain calm through the morning.

"Let's go get breakfast," Smith said.

As Monday's midnight deadline approached, hundreds of people flooded 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.

Villaraigosa said earlier that the park grounds would be closed after the deadline, while Police Chief Charlie Beck promised that arrests would eventually be made if protesters did not comply.

But in a statement issued shortly before midnight, the mayor said police "will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption."

As the deadline approached, people poured into the grounds, likely many of them answering calls on Facebook and Twitter to come out and show solidarity.

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 Smith told The Associated Press.

"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."

By 2:30 a.m., most protesters had moved from the campsite in the park to the streets. That put them technically in compliance with the mayor's eviction order.

But at 4:50 a.m., police on loudspeakers declared an unlawful assembly and protesters were told to get out of the street within five minutes, and the previously peaceful protest turned violent. People wearing masks taunted officers and water bottles were thrown at police in riot gear as authorities started clearing First and Main streets just after 5 a.m. Monday.

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.

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