LOS ANGELES (AP) — Occupy Wall Street protesters who defied a deadline to remove their weeks-old encampment on the Los Angeles City Hall lawn stood their ground Tuesday as they faced uncertainty over when or if police would push them out of the park — and if an eviction could happen without the kind of violence that has engulfed the removal of protest sites in other cities.
Protesters in the nation's second largest city have turned to the federal courts to keep officers away after disobeying a city-imposed 12:01 a.m. deadline Monday to take down their camp. They argue that the City Council passed a resolution in support of the movement and that the city's mayor and police did not have the authority to evict them.
The chances that protesters will get an injunction appear slim, constitutional experts say.
Meanwhile, city officials said they will only move in on the camp when conditions are safest not just for protesters and officers but also the roughly 100 homeless people who had joined the encampment.
"There is no concrete deadline," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said after hundreds of officers withdrew without moving in on the nearly 2-month-old camp.
The effort should come "with as little drama as possible," Beck told reporters.
Police and protesters have clashed elsewhere in recent weeks, most notably in Oakland, Calif., as officers cleared away camps that officials say have grown more dangerous for public health and safety.
Marine Corps veteran Scott Olsen, whose skull was fractured during an Oct. 25 clash between police and Occupy Oakland protesters, said in his first interview since being injured that he still has trouble speaking but expects to recover completely.
"I am doing much better than when I look at myself a month ago, which was two days after the attack," Olsen said in a video interview posted Monday on Indybay.org. "I was not doing good. But now I'm doing a lot better."
In Olympia, Wash., police used Tasers on three people in a skirmish as a large crowd refused to leave the Capitol building after a day of protests. Earlier, a group shouted down lawmakers during the first day of a 30-day special session over $2 billion in budget cuts. Protest chants favored taxes for the wealthy.
Nine people were arrested in Maine after protesters at an encampment took down their tents and packed their camping gear after being told to get a permit or move their shelters.
Some of the encampments had been in use almost since the movement against economic disparity and perceived corporate greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.
With each passing week, it seems a city moves in to close a camp. Like Los Angeles, Philadelphia officials imposed their own deadline for protesters to move to make way for a construction project.
On Monday, however, the camp was still standing.
In Los Angeles, protesters had prepared for police action Monday since city leaders announced last week that the camp would be cleared. Campers had packed up about half of the nearly 500 tents.
Protesters chanted "we won, we won" as police left after only four arrests during a largely peaceful, six-hour demonstration against the eviction. The arrests were on charges of failure to disperse.
Instead of moving in to clear the camp, as had been expected, police concentrated on clearing several hundred protesters who had spilled into the street so morning rush-hour traffic would not be affected.
Hours later, several demonstrators asked a federal judge for an injunction against the city.
The civil rights complaint contends that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa usurped the City Council's authority when he set a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday for the tent-dwellers to disband.
The council passed a resolution of support for the occupiers in October that effectively allowed them to remain on the lawn despite a city ban on overnight camping, the complaint argued.
The city attorney's spokesman John Franklin said the city was prepared to oppose any injunction.
Mulvihill reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writers Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, John Rogers and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, and Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.
- Los Angeles
- Los Angeles City Hall