What is Next for Occupy L.A.?

LAPD officers in hazmat suits prepare to clean the park in front of City Hall after the raid on November 30, 2011 | Photo by Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

I have previously asked whether the months-long protest known as Occupy Los Angeles was worth it, considering the growing costs to the City. The lengthy protest, part of a nationwide movement, certainly started many discussions and garnered a good deal of press attention. However, the creation of a micro city on the lawn outside of City Hall will also cost the city.

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New estimates for the cost of Occupy L.A. to the city vary, but most put the cost at well over $2 million. This figure includes costs associated with damage to the lawn outside of City Hall, damages to various structures caused by graffiti, and overtime pay for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). This might not seem like an enormous amount, but in a cash-strapped city such as ours, it makes a difference. Last week City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana released a preliminary report, which provides that in the next calendar year the city will face a $72 million budget shortfall.

Late last month the LAPD cleared the protesters from their encampment. Reports indicate that the eviction and subsequent arrest of hundreds of protesters was a largely non-violent event.

Occupy L.A. is now suing the city. The protesters contend that the city overreached when the protesters were moved from their encampment outside of City Hall. Members of the Occupy L.A. movement claim that the City is unfairly blaming the removal of protesters for the city's budget woes.

What is the city to do? The city could sue (or counter-sue) for the cleanup and restoration costs associated with the encampment. The city could also ask for the overtime pay they paid the LAPD officers who patrolled and later evicted the protesters. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's Chief Deputy, William Carter, has said that the city is considering such a suit.

Should the city of Los Angeles sue the Occupy Los Angeles protesters?

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government in Los Angeles every week. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

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