Occupied no more! More than 200 protesters arrested as 1,000 riot police storm L.A. camp
Last updated at 5:01 PM on 30th November 2011
More than 200 people were arrested at the Occupy L.A. camp today as 1,000 riot police stormed the site and cleared the tents.
Officers swept through the camp under darkness to drive out some of the longest-lasting protesters since crackdowns ended similar occupations across the country.
In a move identical to the one carried in New York two weeks ago, the mayor ordered an eviction of the protesters who have camped outside City Hall for the past eight weeks.
Defiant: Protesters demonstrate at the Occupy LA camp today, where 200 people were arrested
Taken: The bare-chested protester, left, was soon arrested, along with a masked demonstrator, right. The mayor had ordered an eviction of the camp after eight weeks
Police Chief Charlie Beck said that the arrests were mainly peaceful and that there had been no injuries. He added that an initial search of the camp turned up no drugs or weapons.
About 50 protesters were arrested in Philadelphia.
Overnight, hundreds of Occupy LA activists, joined by supporters streaming into the area in a show of solidarity, crowded the lawn, sidewalks and streets around City Hall as helmeted officers moved into the encampment.
They were followed by a separate line of police in white biohazard suits. Live local television news footage showed police shoving a man to the ground and arresting him after he confronted a line of officers.
Not going without a fight: Another protester is taken away by police, who raided the LA camp under the cover of darkness shortly after midnight
Political: The nearly two-month-old encampment is among the oldest and largest on the West Coast aligned with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations protesting economic inequality in the country and the excesses of the U.S. financial system
Tough: Police officers pull down structures at the Occupy Philly camp today
The Los Angeles encampment, which officials had tolerated for weeks even as other cities moved in to clear out similar compounds, is among the largest on the West Coast aligned with a two-month-old national Occupy Wall Street movement protesting economic inequality and excesses of the U.S. financial system.
MILEY FILMS 'LIBERTY WALK' MUSIC VIDEO FOR OCCUPY PROTESTERS
Miley Cyrus, pictured right, has filmed a music video featuring powerful images form the worldwide Occupy movement and encouraging protesters to 'never give up'.
But an influential leader in the Occupy movement said she wants less talk and more action from the singer, declaring her music video, Liberty Walk, nothing but an empty gesture.
Priscilla Grim, co-editor of The Occupied Wall Street Journal told TMZ that Miley’s music video tribute 'rocks' in spirit, but that she doubts whether the teenager would have the courage to join them on the streets.
Miss Grim said: 'I double dog dare (her) to fight on the front line of economic civil rights at LA City Hall.
'Revolutionaries occupy, Ms Cyrus.'
SCROLL DOWN FOR MILEY'S VIDEO
Police declared the crowd an 'unlawful assembly' around 12:30 am (0830 GMT) and ordered people to disperse within five minutes or face arrest. The announcement was met by boos from the crowd.
The crowd grew steadily more raucous before police arrived with protesters chanting 'Move your feet, Occupy the street!' Several demonstrators climbed into trees, and fireworks were set.
City officials had hoped to keep the timing of the widely expected eviction operation under wraps.
But live local television footage revealed large numbers of police, patrol cars, buses and other vehicles massing at Dodger Stadium, a few miles away, in what appeared to be the staging of a major operation.
Asked how he planned to respond to the raid, Anthony Candelaria, 21, a Los Angeles college student among the crowd gathered at City Hall, said: 'Hold the fort down until they drag us out by our feet.'
One Los Angeles police supervisor told a group of officers to be ready for protesters who might put up a fight, warning that some demonstrators were believed to have gravel and other debris they were planning to throw at police.
Protesters began moving onto the City Hall park on October 1 and within weeks the encampment had grown to include as many as 500 tents, with between 700 to 800 full-time residents.
Clean-up: A separate line of police in white biohazard suits entered the Occupy LA camp today
LAPD officers stand in front of a political mural, left, while right, a protester in LA is arrested
Dismantled tents lay strewn across the Occupy LA camp. The mayor has promised to find alternative shelter for homeless people who had taken up residence - estimated to account for a third of those camped there
A hardline group of protesters stage a sit-in at the Occupy LA camp as police officers surround them
Their number diminished sharply after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last week that he wanted protesters to pack up their tents and other belongings and leave by Monday or face forcible removal.
Since that deadline passed, the status of the camp had remained in limbo. Attorneys for Occupy LA asked a federal judge for a court order barring police from shutting it down, arguing city officials had violated their civil rights by ordering the camp dismantled. The judge has not yet ruled.
Initially, Villaraigosa had welcomed the protesters, going so far as to supply them with ponchos for inclement weather. But as city officials complained of crime, sanitation problems and property damage, the mayor decided the group had to go.
He issued his eviction notice last Friday after talks on a plan to induce the protesters to leave voluntarily collapsed, setting the stage for the latest showdown between leaders of a major U.S. city and the Occupy movement.
The mayor has promised to find alternative shelter for homeless people who had taken up residence at City Hall and were estimated to account for at least a third of those camped there.
Closing in: Police officers line up against protesters early this morning
Standing firm: Protesters, some wearing gas masks, link arms as they wait eviction today. Police declared the crowd an 'unlawful assembly' around 12:30 am (0830 GMT) and ordered people to disperse within five minutes or face arrest
Committed: A protester climbs up a tree as police approach
Prepared: LAPD officers take a bus to the Occupy camp, which is among the largest on the West Coast