Occupy LA eviction put on hold, but for how long?
Occupy LA protestors were supposed to be evicted at midnight Sunday. But Los Angeles police say they may give the Occupy LA camp a short reprieve.
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Shortly after midnight, throngs of demonstrators began blocking traffic along a street running between City Hall and the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters across the street, finally moving to take over an entire intersection.Skip to next paragraph
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One group of protesters left the park and marched about a block away, where they were met by a phalanx of officers wearing helmets, carrying night sticks and what appeared to be tear gas rifles.
Some in the crowd advanced to the line of officers, shouting: ``We are peaceful!'' But police held their positions.
Smith's police truck was briefly surrounded by protesters, prompting more riot police to converge on the area.
At one point, a separate group of about 50 protesters gathered around a tent in the center of the park holding candles and linking arms. They had scrawled telephone numbers of lawyers on their arms anticipating arrest.
Dozens of others formed a human chain around the perimeter of City Hall, holding hands as they stood on the sidewalk.
After the announcement that eviction had been postponed, most of those protesters and others who had been disrupting traffic drifted away. But about a dozen remained in the intersection, sitting or lying in the street.
Hours earlier, the mayor issued a statement saying the park ''will officially close tonight,'' but that police would allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully.
``I wouldn't leave if they tell me to leave,'' said Jennifer Mawias, 24, who identified herself as a two-month veteran of the camp. Dressed in a black leather jacket with a black bandanna over her nose and mouth, Mawias said she was ready to be arrested even though she is due at work in the morning.
Occupy LA campers spent much of the weekend removing and placing into storage their more valuable equipment to keep it from being damaged or confiscated, including an array of solar panels, power generators, computers and a makeshift library.
Los Angeles has been relatively accommodating to its Occupy group compared to other major cities, with Villaraigosa at one point providing ponchos to campers when it rained.
But after the collapse of negotiations aimed at persuading protesters to relocate voluntarily, the mayor said last week the encampment would have to go. He said he hoped to avoid violence that erupted in other cities when police used force against Occupy protesters.