Demonstrators and city officials in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia were hoping any confrontation would be nonviolent, unlike evictions at similar camps around the country that sometimes involved pepper spray and tear gas. The movement against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.
About 1,200 Los Angeles officers staged for hours outside Dodger Stadium before the raid. They were warned that demonstrators might throw everything from concrete and gravel to human feces at them.
"Please put your face masks down and watch each other's back," a supervisor told them. "Now go to work."
Before police arrived in large numbers, protesters were upbeat and the mood was almost festive. A protester in a Santa Claus hat danced in the street. A woman showed off the reindeer antlers she had mounted on her gas mask.
Some were smoking pot, some were carrying gas masks, others wore hoodies and had bandanas around their faces. Some protesters carried lit candles and held signs saying "Defend Occupy LA."
Fireworks exploded in the sky at one point. Later, as helicopters hovered above, someone blew "The Star Spangled Banner" on a horn.
As officers first surrounded the camp, hundreds of protesters chanted, "The people united will never be defeated."
Campers planning to defend the camp and hold their ground barricaded entrances to the park with trash cans.
The police operation was planned at night because downtown is mostly vacant, with offices closed, fewer pedestrians and less traffic, but a spokesman said it could make officers more vulnerable.
"It's more difficult for us to see things, to see booby traps," Lt. Andy Neiman, told pool reporters. "Operating in the dark is never an advantage."
Neiman said the force was prepared to deal with demonstrators holed up in the camp or those who had climbed up trees in the small park.
Gia Trimble, member of the Occupy LA media team, said a lot of people committed to the cause would stay and risk arrest.
"This is a monumental night for Los Angeles," Trimble said. "We're going to do what we can to protect the camp."
In their anticipation of an eviction, the Los Angeles protesters designated medics designated with red crosses taped on clothing. Some protesters had gas masks.
Organizers at the camp packed up computer and technical equipment from the media tent.
Two men who constructed an elaborate tree house lashed bamboo sticks together with twine to push away any ladder police might use to evict them.
Police said they would be able to remove the tree climbers.
Members of the National Lawyers guild had legal observers on hand for an eviction.
Matheson reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer also contributed to this report.
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