LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Attorneys for Occupy L.A. protesters filed court papers Monday asking a federal judge to prevent police from clearing the City Hall camp.

The protesters contend the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck violated their civil rights by ordering the encampment dismantled.

KNX 1070 reports.

Chief Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter said the city was prepared to defend its closure of the park and eviction of the protesters camped there. The city’s defense includes a statement from the LAPD and from Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri regarding public safety and damage to the park.

Attorneys for the protesters contend the south lawn of City Hall is a traditional public forum for First Amendment activity.

“The City Hall lawn, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, is one of the most sacred places for the exercise of the right to assemble and protest,” said National Lawyers Guild President James Lafferty, who is named as a plaintiff in the federal court filing.

According to the court papers, the city engaged in “arbitrary and capricious action” by first “approving the Occupy L.A. camp for 56 days before suddenly revoking permission.”

The protesters contend the city has made other exceptions to an ordinance that prevents people from staying in public parks after 10 p.m., including for thousands of people who camped out in Exposition Park waiting for tickets to receive free medical services.

Attorneys also argue in the petition that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s order to close the park violated a City Council resolution adopted in October expressing support for the encampment.

“There is no doubt that the council was approving camping on the City Hall lawn as part of OLA’s exercise of their First Amendment Rights,” according to the court filing.

Protesters contend the council’s action, which officially went into effect Oct. 25, was protected by a separation of powers in the city charter and could only be amended by a new action of the City Council, not the mayor.

“It’s the mayor we are very upset with for trying to usurp the powers that are not his and trying to override the very reasonable position of the city council,” Lafferty said.

As of noon Monday, the city had not yet been served with the court papers, and no hearing date on the request had been set.

“At this point, nothing has changed. There’s been no federal or state court action that would prohibit LAPD from enforcing existing law, including requesting the occupants of the encampment to clear the park after 10:30 p.m.,” Carter said.

Addressing the protesters’ separation-of-powers argument, Carter said, “The City Council has not taken any action to revoke, amend or stay the enforcement of any city ordinance.”

Villaraigosa repeatedly praised Occupy L.A. during a series of morning- news appearances today, citing the group’s success in changing the nation’s political conversation to include the issue of economic disparity. However, he repeated his message that the camp is not sustainable because of long-term concerns about public health and public safety.

Lafferty scoffed at the allegations.

“There are no problems in that camp. There is no disease in that camp. Crime is not rampant in that camp,” he said, adding that Occupy L.A. has helped provide clean and safe accommodations for the homeless. “If anything, we’re doing what the city has not done.”

Beck said it was unclear exactly when the almost two-month-old Occupy L.A. site would be closed. About half of about 500 tents had been removed as of today.

Close to 200 protesters have remained, with many expressing a willingness to be arrested.

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said the department’s “number-one objective” this morning was to keep the streets clear rather than to dismantle the encampment.

“Our goal right now is to try and keep it as peaceful as possible,” Smith said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (16)
  1. alg says:

    How long have we heard that the State and the cities of California have no room left in jails and prisons.??
    Where are these protesters going to be housed once arrested.??
    The city could make the park the protesters are in now a city jail!! Then of course the city would have to take care of those protesters which includes health, dental, medical and making sure they are all fed three times daily. Now that would cost the city a pretty penny.
    I do think the protesters should vacate the property so that it can be cleaned, grass mowed, etc., and then allow the protesters back in.
    I don’t see any other way except to declare MARITAL LAW.

    1. John says:

      Actually, you can charge them all with vagrancy, loitering, and disturbing the peace. Then you fine them a hefty sum and make money from them instead of spending it on them. And as a bonus, you can charge them multiple times as they keep dong it. Just aim for the cleanest looking ones and the ones organizing things since they’ll be more likely to have money saved up.

      1. John says:

        drink and drive, I wish. Better job security that way. Why exactly do you not support non-violent enforcing of the law with the same vehemence that you do non-violent violations of it? These people are violating my right to assemble there by refusing to move on and allow others to utilize the same area to voice concerns other than their own. This has ceased to be a protest and has become a public nuisance. As a rule, you deal with a public nuisance with a fine. That’s the law.

    2. Astonished says:

      Really. And I suppose that you have personally gone in and confirmed that everyone squating on that land is a citizen of the City of Los Angeles, AND pays the taxes necessary to maintain it. That’s how you support your arguement?

      Well, I do live in the city AND pay taxes to maintain a public park that I, as a citizen, can not use because of these squatters. And yes, squatters is the proper term.

      So far this bunch has cause in excess of $6oo,ooo.oo in property damage that I as a citizen AND taxpay will have to pay to repatriate this land, if that can even be done. And all for a “cause” that local goverments have no say in.

      If their cause is so rightous the should squat on the Governor’s lawn, or better yet go squat on the Federal Government’s law. They are the only ones who can change the banking system.

      They need to go, be gone, leave already!!!! AND DON’T COME BACK!

      1. alg says:

        ASTONISH – your spelling is about as astonishing as your content in your comment.
        First of all please justify the $600k cost ?? Where did you get that figure. If you did get it somewhere, I can bet you that figure was very inflated.
        I doubt very much that you use that park, and that you live within the city limits. Where do you live jew boy , Beverly Hills?
        God said that you were his chosen ones, or so you say. He didn’t say you could judge others. What the bible says is JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED.
        Just something I learned in bible studies in grade school. Oh, I forgot, they don’t allow that anymore.
        As for what you pay in taxes, it can’t be much. City sales tax revenue goes mainly for city employees, their pensions, their health plans, and bonuses and raises. The rest is divided among those in the city govt. that commit fraudulent lunches, trips overseas where they supposedly conduct business meetings.
        I could go on, but why. It’s obvious you have your head in the sand, and just want to vent your hatred for others. period.

  2. Steve says:

    Clear the bums out. Restore order. I support the police.

  3. tt says:

    I understand their issues – however – in the process they are costing our city thousands in overtime,repairs and clean up fees and you know who is going to eventually pay for that ?? The people that do have jobs and have the money to pay their taxes….and no – the people im refering to are blue collar – and make what they can, and barely get by as it is….. – its just costing US more money …. On a good note – the fact that they are setting up beds for the homeless because of this and they are actually helping ….thats the one good thing that will come out of this….

  4. Dale says:

    Hey LA Mayor and City Council. How does it feel to have your liberal views and ill advised compassion come back to bite you in the behind? Those Occupy Idiots are using your own words and resolution to file an injunction against you. That is what you get for being dumb and embrace the disruptive “99%ers” to promote your own political goals.

    1. Whisky…Tango… Foxtrot says:

      Well said, I totally concur.

    2. Astonished says:

      It was the resolution that the Mayor and Council issued that they have hung their case on. I say that once we get rid of the squatters the cost to repair the park should be equally divided between the Mayor and Council’s budgets.

      People living in the City can’t afford to put out anymore money for such foolishness!

      1. alg says:

        Your comment is flawed. First of all, the Mayor had no say in the council s move to grant access to the protesters so he can’t do anything. It’s the City council that must decide what to do.
        See my other comment to Astonished to understand WHY the protesters are there.
        Those protesters are there REPRESENTING me and the other citizens of Los Angeles county and city to protest all the money that is being made and squandered on an inflated employee base that it not needed. Salaries, pensions, health care, dental care, retirement plans. The list goes on, not to mention all the fraud in the system. THATS WHAT THE PROTESTERS ARE THERE FOR.
        That’s also why the city is not doing anything about it. Because the city fathers know what they have done is really bad. They don’t know, or want to fix it.
        I warned two years ago about the coming revolution. You think this protest is over.? It’s just beginning. There are too many involved, smart people who now have control of the movement and will do something soon.
        If the city, state and federal govt., doesn’t get their act together they will see what the people can do.

  5. Fred Rinaldi says:

    throw their worthles arses in jail, bunch of loser

  6. Jeff says:

    A couple of M16’s and the LAPD death squad could handle this problem in no time at all.

  7. John says:

    This isn’t protesting anymore. It’s vagrancy. Start processing and fining them for staying where they are not wanted.

  8. Astonished says:

    You know. . .If these squatters want to stay so bad, maybe we, the citizens, should give them what they want.

    I say let them stay. We can erect a 40 foot tall wall all around the entire block. No doors, no windows. Electrified wire at the top. They get to stay and we don’t have to look at them anymore. Problem solved!

    Maybe we could get some blimp company or helicopter tour group started to do flyovers as an attractions. $10.00 a head. It would pay for itself in no time!

  9. Astonished says:

    Dear Alg;

    Okay, so I’m not a spelling demon, but I get my points across. As for the $600,000 figure, it was stated on the news that Parks and Recreation gave that figure as an estimate 2 weeks ago, but my guess is it’s higher now. If the job goes out for bid, it will be even higher. If these people are protesting the wages and benefits being given to government workers, they need to first look at the salaries and benefits of those that were elected to those same cities and counties. The Los Angeles City Council is the highest paid council in the United States. Their base pay is more than any State Senator makes.

    As for where I live and where or not I use that park, and my ethnicity. I can tell you this.

    1. Yes, I do indeed live in Los Angeles City.
    2. I do and always have paid taxes to the City.
    3. A percentage of those taxes go towards maintaining the City’s parks,
    4. I have very easy access to that park, and I have used it, but certainly couldn’t do so now. Not without a HazMat Suit anyway.
    5. I am not jewish, although I do have jewish friends, and what does my ethnicity have to do with this arguement anyway except as a way for you to confuse the issue.

    I’m glad you understand what these people as supposedly protesting about, as I’ve heard so many mixed messages, that I can no longer follow their logic, if there is any. As for your comment about my taxes being divided among those in the city govt. that commit fraudulent lunches, trips overseas where they supposedly conduct business meetings, I have to assume that you know this from experience. Otherwise


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