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Philly calm but 4 arrested in LA after deadlines

By Geoff Mulvihill

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 2:52 p.m. MST

LOS ANGELES — Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles and Philadelphia defied orders to leave their months-old encampments, making it through the deadlines without the acrimony that marked earlier forced evictions in other cities.

Protesters chanted "we won, we won" as riot gear-clad Los Angeles police left on Monday, though there were four arrests. Occupy LA supporters asked a federal judge to bar the city from tearing down their encampment.

In Philadelphia, the camp was mostly quiet amid a heavy police presence, and on Monday morning a handful of people marching down one of the city's main business corridors banging drums.

When the camps would be cleared after officials in both cities ordered their removal was unclear.

"There is no concrete deadline," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said after hundreds of officers withdrew without moving in on the camp. He said he wanted to make sure the removal would be safe for protesters and officers.

"With as little drama as possible," he told reporters.

Police and protesters have clashed in recent weeks, most notably in Oakland, Calif., as officers sometimes used pepper spray and tear gas to shutter camps that officials say have grown more dangerous for public health and safety.

Some of those encampments had been in use almost since the movement against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.

Elsewhere, nine people were arrested in Maine after protesters in the Occupy Augusta encampment in Capitol Park took down their tents and packed their camping gear after being told to get a permit or move their shelters.

In San Francisco, protesters shouted and chanted as they disrupted a University of California board meeting, forcing officials to move to another room.

The meeting comes after video footage captured a UC Davis police officer pepper-spraying peaceful protesters drew outrage, not just at the school but around the world, and set off a debate about the appropriate use of force.

In Los Angeles, about half of the 485 tents had been taken down as of Sunday night, leaving patches of the 1.7-acre park around City Hall barren of grass and strewn with garbage.

Police turned back after hundreds of Occupy LA supporters showed up at the camp Sunday night as the midnight deadline for evacuation neared. As the night drew on, many demonstrators left.

Protester Julie Levine said she was surprised that police did not move in as the numbers dwindled. "We were fearful," she said. "But we held our numbers and police were on their best behavior."

Officers reopened the streets around 6:30 a.m.

"Let's go get breakfast," said Commander Andrew Smith as he removed his helmet.

The protest was largely peaceful but there were some skirmishes. Four people were arrested for failure to disperse and a few protesters tossed bamboo sticks and water bottles at officers, Smith said. No injuries were reported.

Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild said he filed a petition Monday in federal court, arguing that a City Council-passed resolution of support for the occupiers protects them from the city's ban on overnight camping.

In Philadelphia, a deadline set by the city for protesters to leave the site where it has camped for nearly two months passed Sunday without any arrests.

Dozens of tents remained at the encampment outside Philadelphia's City Hall on Monday, 12 hours after a city-imposed deadline passed for the protesters to move to make way for a construction project.

Along the steps leading into a Philadelphia 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."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was out of town Sunday, but his spokesman reiterated that "people are under orders to move."

The mayor had an exchange on Twitter with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, who asked Nutter "to remember this is a non-violent movement — please show restraint tonight." Nutter's response: "I agree."

Mulvihill reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writers John Rogers and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, and Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine contributed to this story.

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