Officials Concerned Occupy LA Movement Will Turn Violent Like Oakland Demonstrations
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — There are increasing signs that the placid and peaceful Occupy LA movement could be turning more violent.
As many Oakland demonstrators have battled police, so far, LA protesters only seem interested in the occasional conflict with each other.
Tempers are clearly starting to fray as those camping out are finding it colder and less sanitary as the days continue. Organizers have continued to stress the need for peaceful protest and many have decried the kinds of violence or vandalism seen in protests to our north.
Last week, in Los Angeles, two protesters got into a fracas and one of the men had a knife. No one was hurt, but police confirmed to the Huffington Post that the man was arrested and his weapon confiscated.
The LA Times reports that on Friday one woman was charged with setting a man’s clothes on fire and that another woman is accused of assaulting a man with a tent pole. Both women were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told the newspaper that “two felonies from the south lawn in one day? This has raised concerns for us.”
There are also reports of a man being arrested after he vandalized a statue with paint.
Protesters are also, perhaps, reacting to more push back from the city.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council originally put out a welcome mat, literally, at City Hall but the mayor said last week, the protesters were starting to cause too much property damage and wished they would find another location to vent their frustrations with the economy, unemployment levels and Wall Street greed.
Said the mayor, “they can’t stay here indefinitely.”
The protesters have been camping out since October 1, but many told CBS2’s Stephanie Abrams today, they aren’t going anywhere.
Police in Pomona, meanwhile, had their hands full today keeping about 20 Neo-Nazis and dozens more protesters apart.
Joy Benedict, reporting for KCAL9 and CBS2, said the anger — on both sides — was palpable and felt on both sides of the protest.
At one point, some protesters threw traffic cones at some of the Neo-Nazis. Later, some tried to throw traffic barriers. This, after the Neo-Nazis made disparaging comments about illegal aliens.
There were also protests downtown Los Angeles for “National Bank Transfer Day.” The “Transfer” protesters today shared the south lawn with Occupy LA.
Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, was downtown rallying the peaceful crowd, even as one protester wrote on the sidewalk outside Bank of America “House Of Thieves” in chalk.
Stephanie Abrams reported protests remained peaceful even though police were ready to possibly engage.
Reich told Abrams why the crowds seem to be getting more fed up by the day. “Enough is enough. The game looks rigged. It looks as though the dice are loaded in favor of those with enormous wealth and privilege. And we…want…our country back.”