LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Police are converging on “Occupy LA” protesters near City Hall. The Los Angeles Police Department had given them a midnight deadline to move from the lawn of city hall, where they’ve been camped out for nearly two months.
“If you do not do so, you may be subject to arrest or other police action,” an officer shouted just after 5:30 a.m.
Four people were arrested, but demonstrators and police were both remaining calm as of 8:30 a.m. In fact, traffic was moving at 1st and Main streets, where protesters are gathered.
Mayor Villaraigosa released the following statement about Monday morning’s deadline:
“As I stated this past Friday, it is time for Occupy LA to move from focusing their efforts to hold a particular patch of parkland to spreading the message of economic justice and a restoration of balance to American society.
That is why tonight, City Hall Park, where protesters and others have camped for nearly 60 days, will officially close.
While Occupy LA has brought needed attention to the economic disparities in our country, an encampment on City Hall grounds is simply not sustainable indefinitely. We will close and rebuild the park so that any individual will have the opportunity to use this free speech zone to exercise their first amendment rights at City Hall.
During the park rehabilitation, the Spring Street steps of City Hall will remain open during park hours for the Occupy LA movement and other organizations that wish to exercise their freedom of speech.
As Chief Beck has made clear, though the park will officially close tonight at 12:01 a.m., the department will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption.
I am proud of the fact that this has been a peaceful, non-violent protest. It has been peaceful because we have done things differently in Los Angeles.
I trust that we can manage the closure of City Hall Park in the same spirit of cooperation. To facilitate a peaceful and orderly departure from the park, we will take the following steps tomorrow:
1. Officers with General Services police will walk through the encampment handing out bilingual flyers with information about the park closure.
2. Workers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will also walk through the encampment to inform people about social and public health services that are available.
3. Starting Monday, we will make 50 shelter beds available for those individuals from the encampment who are homeless and will need an alternate place to spend the night. Winter shelters will open Thursday, December 1, increasing the number of beds available.
4. We will make nearby parking available to make it easier for people to move their belongings and personal property. We have and will continue to work hard to ensure that the park closure will be peaceful and non-violent.
The movement has played an important role in focusing the national conversation on economic equality. I encourage them to expand their efforts far beyond the confines of the City Hall Park in the coming months.”