LOS ANGELES, Calif.–When news of the New York City police raid on the Wall Street protesters hit the Occupy L.A. encampment early this morning, about 100 noisy protesters marched from City Hall to the Nokia Theatre and back with Los Angeles police shadowing their movements and issuing a temporary tactical alert.
The demonstration began shortly after midnight with protestors beating drums and waving Occupy L.A. signs as they began marching in front of City Hall, according to a City News Service reporter at the scene.
A group of about 50 protesters then crossed 1st Street and headed south on Spring Street chanting, “We are the 99 percent.”
One woman who raced to catch up with the group told CNS, they were, “marching in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New York…they raided them.”
At first, there was no visible police presence as marchers made their way to the Nokia Theater.
But around 1:30 a.m. protesters started returning to City Hall where they were met with eight police cars and a host of officers in riot gear blocking traffic on Spring Street. Overhead LAPD helicopters circled above the demonstration, according to the CNS reporter.
The fire department also sent two trucks to the scene, parking in front of City Hall as more black and white patrol cars began arriving at the location.
A tense few minutes ensued as helmeted LAPD officers squared off with protesters who had gathered on the City Hall side of 1st and Spring Streets.
Meanwhile, according to police emergency radio transmissions, the LAPD had declared a “tactical alert,” and dispatched officers from Rampart and Northeast divisions to the scene.
One LAPD officer told the CNS reporter that some officers had been receiving “special training” to deal with the camp.
The stand-off finally ended about 2 a.m. after Occupy L.A. leaders promised police the demonstrators would remain at the encampment.
“When the protesters agreed to be lawful the officers dispersed,” said LAPD Sgt. R. Lopez, a watch commander at Central Division. “I spoke with them myself.”
Lopez also told CNS that police responded to the scene because protesters were marching against traffic and putting themselves and motorists in danger.
“So we had to step in,” Lopez said. “When they agreed to be lawful in their actions, we dispersed and when that happened we cancelled the tactical alert.”
Only a few police cars remained parked around City Hall as of 3 a.m.
By Leah Gillis | City News Service