The city’s response to last year’s Occupy Los Angeles protests and two-month encampment at City Hall cost taxpayers at least $4.7 million, according to reports.
From early October to late November, hundreds of demonstrators camped in tents at the 1.7-acre City Hall Park as part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. Protestors called for government and corporations to address what activists described as a growing disparity between the rich and poor. The encampment culminated in a massive overnight raid by the Los Angeles
Police Department officers to clear the park of demonstrators.
The newly reported cost of Occupy L.A. to the city was $2 million more than an estimate reported in February.
The spike was due to newly reported costs to police Occupy L.A. and the price to restore the City Hall Park and monuments, which were damaged by Occupy protesters camped at City Hall.
The city received $411,508 in donations and rebates to cover the cost of restoring the lawn around City Hall, according to the report from City
Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.
City Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the report should make city leaders think twice before they endorse similar movements in the future.
The City Council in October voted 11-0 in support of the “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by Occupy Los Angeles. Then City Council President Eric Garcetti told protesters they could stay as along they wanted. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa distributed ponchos to Occupy demonstrators during a rainy stretch.
“For every resolution or position the city might take, there’s a cost,” Englander said. “And we need to weigh that particularly now when we’re going through a budget crisis.”
The city is facing a $237 million budget deficit. Villaraigosa called for 231 layoffs and eliminating another 438 unfilled city positions in his proposed budget.