The Occupy Los Angeles movement and the City of Los Angeles have been partners in a careful dance compared to the stumbling seen in other occupied cities.
Early support from City Council allowed tents to set up on the lawn circling City Hall, and the protests in the nearby Financial District was a performance of choreographed protocol between civil disobedience and police authority.
The dance may be over.
In a Friday press conference, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced City Hall Park would be closed at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. "The Occupy movement is now at a crossroads," he said. "The movement faces the question of how it can build on its initial success."
"We are asking the participants in the Occupy LA encampment to begin to pack their belongings and to leave City Hall Park in an orderly manner," said the mayor, before being interrupted by a protester.
"It has been peaceful because we decided to do things differently in Los Angeles, not stare each other down across barricades and barbed wire," Villaraigosa added.
A lone spokesperson, in "human mic" cadence, declared a rejection of the City's decision to evict protesters. Along with a Facebook call to action for support, and a few days earlier a terse negotiation between the city and lawyers representing protesters, the soft sweep may meet with resistance.
"As a collective, Occupy Los Angeles would like to express their rejection of the city of Los Angeles' alleged proposal that we leave City Hall," said protester Jeremy Rothe-Kushel.
At one minute after midnight, police officers and social workers will begin canvassing the encampment. The city will have nearby parking for the loading of property, and provide a limited amount of beds at nearby shelters.
To honor the "spirit of free expression," city hall's Spring Street steps will still be used for speeches while the park itself is closed.
Also speaking at the press conference was Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who said protesters will be given time to leave before arrests are made. "I want to make sure that when we do make arrests--and we will if we have to--that it is the people who won't go, not those who haven't had time or can't go," he said.
So far the Occupy L.A. movement, which received a gesture of Thanksgiving goodwill from a police commander who sent over two turkeys, has not been in a clash of power compared to unrest in other cities, leading to mass arrests and viral coverage.
There have been 70 arrests, which were more political statement then civil disobedience by protesters during a march in the Financial District.
After the ball is over at midnight, there may be more by Monday morning.
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