Los Angeles: In a massive show of force,
1,400 police officers stormed the Occupy Los Angeles camp
early on Wednesday, driving protesters from the park and arresting
more than 200 who defied orders to leave. Similar raids in
Philadelphia led to 50 arrests, but the scene in both cities
was relatively peaceful.
Police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia moved in on Occupy
Wall Street encampments under darkness today in an effort to
clear out some of the longest-lasting protest sites since
crackdowns ended similar occupations across the country.
Police had cleared camps in New York and other cities
earlier, arguing that the camping created health hazards and
interfered with local commerce.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck praised the
officers and the protesters for their restraint and the
peaceful way the eviction was carried out.
Officers flooded down the steps of City Hall just after
midnight and started dismantling the two-month-old camp two
days after a deadline passed for campers to leave the park.
Officers in helmets and wielding batons and guns with
rubber bullets converged on the park from all directions with
military precision and began making arrests after several
orders were given to leave.
There were no injuries and no drugs or weapons were found
during a search of the emptied camp which was strewn with
garbage after the raid. City workers put up concrete barriers
to wall off the park while it`s restored.
The raid in Los Angeles came after demonstrators with the
movement in Philadelphia marched through the streets after
being evicted from their site. About 40 protesters were
arrested after refusing to clear a street several blocks
northeast of City Hall, Philadelphia Police Commissioner
Charles Ramsey said.
They were lined up in cuffs and loaded on to buses by
officers. Six others were arrested earlier after remaining on
a street police that police tried to clear.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa raised public
safety and health concerns in announcing plans for the
eviction last week, while Philadelphia officials said
protesters must clear their site to make room for a USD 50
million renovation project.
Defiant Los Angeles campers who were chanting slogans as
the officers surrounded the park, booed when an unlawful
assembly was declared, paving the way for officers to begin
arresting those who didn`t leave.
Teams of four or five officers moved through the crowd
making arrests one at a time, cuffing the hands of protesters
with white plastic zip-ties. A circle of protesters sat with
arms locked, many looking calm and smiling.