Occupy L.A.: Mayor Reiterates Eviction Order, But What's Next for the Movement?

A man sleeps on a chair at the Occupy L.A. camp on Sunday, November 27th | Photo by Tom Andrews

Hours before the scheduled end of Occupy L.A.'s encampment of City Hall Park, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released a statement saying protesters would have enough time to clear the area.

"As Chief Beck has made clear, though the park will officially close tonight at 12:01 a.m., the department will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption," he said.

The LAPD has not announced when it will move in to remove any remaining protesters, but a video posted to Occupy L.A.'s website seems to indicate that action would not be taken until sunrise at the earliest.

"Nothing is going to happen tonight," said an officer, identified as Captain Rodriguez by Neon Tommy. "As for when the department is going to start taking some action, I do not know that yet."

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When questioned by a woman behind the camera about what defines "tonight," the officer responded, "Tonight is defined, without playing semantics, until tomorrow morning when the sun comes up."

An exact time could not be confirmed by Commander Andrew Smith, who in charge of the media relations. "We do not discuss our timetables or our tactics of our plan," he said. "Our goal is to get this done without arresting anybody or without using any force."

Occupy L.A. remains the largest encampment of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been bringing attention to a variety of economic inequality issues since September. Protests in other cities across the nation have been met with force by police, many that have beget images that went viral (usually with pepper spray).

Unlike those incidents, Los Angeles has steered clear of such controversy. "It is not just that L.A. is doing it right, but it's that other big cities are doing it wrong," explained Matt Szabo, a deputy mayor. He said the city's three-pronged approach--respect the First Amendment, protect public safety and use common sense--is simple, rational and sober.

The mood at the encampment tonight was cheerful, according to Lawrence Ziese, who will be leading a group of impartial legal observers during the eviction. "Everyone here is full of great spirit," he said, noting that a number of protesters plan on disobeying the eviction order to be peacefully arrested. He explained that next steps include growing, both as a movement and as individuals.

But specifics of what Occupy L.A. will do next is sketchy at best.

"It's completely up in the air," said Stephen Box, an active City Hall activist who has observed the movement since it sprang up 60 days ago. "I was quite enamored with the quick organization--everything from the library to the child care, etc.--at the same time I was kind of disappointed the movement didn't go after the process," which led to all things the movement is discontent with. "If you're not taking it out to the people of L.A. and not riling the four million... you're creating an alternative universe that exists in the shadow of city hall that does nothing to change the city of L.A. or the process."

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