Occupy LA eviction deadline passes, and protesters file suit to stay put (VIDEO)
Occupy LA is still standing after a midnight deadline to dismantle the 500-tent encampment outside City Hall passes. The mood among protesters mixes defiance and resignation.
Hours after a midnight deadline passed without police moving in to evict Occupy Los Angeles protesters from their encampment outside City Hall, the movement is seeking a court order to prevent the eviction from being carried out.
Mario Brito, a member of Occupy LAâ€™s City Hall liason team, said the suit was filed Monday morning in federal court.
The suit, which names the city, the mayor, and the chief of police as defendants, accuses them of violating the protestersâ€™ civil rights by reversing policy and demanding that the 500 or so tents on the City Hall lawn, considered the largest remaining of the Occupy movementâ€™s encampments in the US, be dismantled.
The legal battle was joined after the midnight deadline for police eviction came andÂ went without the sort of clashes that have marked other law enforcement actions at Occupy sites around the nation.
As police focused their efforts early Monday largely on clearing intersections for weekday commuter traffic, the mood among the protesters mixed defiance and resignation that the encampmentâ€™s time was coming to a close.
A handful of arrests were made, mostly for interference with traffic regulations.
As Monday morning dawned, the estimated 3,000 protestersÂ remained upbeat, with little if any response from police.
â€śOccupy WallÂ Street, Occupy Los Angeles,â€ťÂ a call-and-responseÂ chant wafted over the crowd,Â adding, â€śOccupy everything and never give it back.â€ť
PoliceÂ were on high alert and deployed largely unobtrusively along side streets on Segway scooters and on foot â€“ and without heavy riot gear.
HelicoptersÂ hovered over head throughout the early morning hours,Â Los Angeles police officers inÂ regular patrolÂ uniforms strolled among the activists.
â€śWe are looking for peaceful solutions,â€ť saidÂ LAPD commander Andrew Smith, as heÂ walked the area, adding, â€śso far, so good as far as nonviolence â€“ nobody is looking forÂ anything else than that.â€ť
Signs of preparations for clashes and closure appeared along the crowded sidewalks and limited grassy areas. A bail bondsman eagerly presses his card into the hands of passersby, announcing hisÂ services in a loud voice. â€śBail bonds here, be ready,â€ťÂ intoned Fidel Ramirez, whose card states, â€śany time, any jail.â€ť
Will Paio Mares, a self-described artist-in-residence who had an extensive showing of his paintings propped up around city tree trunks, was hastily packing up his belongings, mutteringÂ that he had no time to talk as he bustledÂ past.
â€śIâ€™m in a hurry,â€ť he says, answering theÂ question of whether it is time to leave, with â€śof course.â€ť
Companion Kevin Gambit, a fellow Occupy-er from San Diego said many protesters are getting ready to go, â€śso they donâ€™t have the holidayÂ rush of losing all their belongings.â€ť
Saying it is simply time to go from the encampments, heÂ adds that his activist stance is intact.
â€śThe world is oursÂ to occupy,â€ť he says. â€śIâ€™m always occupying, just as you are.â€ť
Others appear committed toÂ this downtown patch of grass andÂ concrete, however. Anastasia, a fellow activist who came from nearby Irvine, and who declined to provide her last name, says the commitment to the encampment is firm.
â€śThere are many people coming in unity,â€ť she says, pointing to groups coming down from San Francisco as well as other areas to show support. â€śThese are our brothers and sisters,â€ť she says, as she sits on the ground, arms linked to her companions.Â â€śWe are prepared for the worst, but we expect an easy and peaceful resolution.â€ť