Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivered what has become familiar jiujitsu-like rhetoric used by city officials when they speak about Occupy Wall Street. On the one hand, it’s important to look supportive of the purely democratic movement, while simultaneously indicating a desire to crush the uprising as quickly as possible.
The mayor of Los Angeles congratulated Occupy for “awakening the country’s conscience,” but also invited them to get the hell out by 12:01 am today. After announcing the eviction, Villaraigosa went back to pretending like he cares about Occupy LA, even offering the group some helpful advice.
“The movement is at a crossroads,” the mayor said. “It is time for Occupy LA to move from holding a particular patch of park land to spreading the message of economic justice and signing more people up for the push to restore the balance to American society.”
Neat words of wisdom! However, lost in that thoughtful analysis, of course, is the concept that the only meaningful forms of protest are acts of physical resistance, including camping outside. But I digress.
Mayors responsible for other Occupy raids have used similar rhetoric in the past. Oakland mayor Jean Quan pre-eviction released a statement claiming her administration supports the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and that they too are “part of the 99%,” a remark nearly equalled in hilarity by Mayor Bloomberg pretending to be a sentinel guarding the Constitution by claiming protesters would be permitted to remain in Zuccotti indefinitely.
Both Oakland and New York City’s Occupy camps were ultimately evicted by police.
Following suit, the LAPD, a force that has always remained at the forefront of police militarization, arrived at the Occupy camp in the early hours today. Donning their usual riot gear costumes (helmets, face masks, batons), hundreds of police advanced on thousands of protesters, who had defied the order to disperse by midnight and another instruction to leave City Hall park at 4:45 am.
Police quickly arrested four people who were allegedly part of the groups blocking streets surrounding the park. As the arrests occurred, onlookers chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
However, the park remained relatively calm and officers said their main intention was to clear the streets for morning commuters, but they made no further attempt to evict people from the park. CS Monitor reports that the camp, which has grown to roughly 400 tents, serves as a home for 700 to 800 people, at least one-third of whom are believed to be homeless.
Commander Andy Smith said the LAPD won’t raid the camp anytime soon before remarking, “Let’s go get breakfast,” the AP reports.
In Philadelphia, protesters are also bracing for eviction by city officials. Mayor Michael Nutter set a deadline of 5 pm yesterday, Sunday, for protesters to leave Dilworth Plaza. The eviction date came and went and occupiers hesitantly celebrated the delay.=
Few protesters seemed ready to declare outright victory as they’ve witnessed similar delays in other cities that eventually resulted in early morning raids.