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Occupy L.A. Lies In Wait

Tasbeeh Herwees |
November 28, 2011 | 5:09 p.m. PST

Senior Staff Reporter

The atmosphere at the Occupy Los Angeles campgrounds is tense the day after the eviction order went into effect.

Things have changed since last week. There are significantly fewer tents occupying the grounds of City Hall park. Some of the tents have moved to the sidewalk -- others are just gone.

(Photo by Tasbeeh Herwees)
(Photo by Tasbeeh Herwees)

The center square in front of the South steps used to be an empty space where performers, dancers, speakers and the like would entertain occupiers. Today it is occupied by tents, sleeping bags and mattresses.

“I heard there’s going to be a raid tonight,” says one occupier. Everybody saw the police last night and they know there are hundreds of them a block away and with an unrevealed game plan to move in.

The anticipation is largely nervous but at times panicky. There are frequent shouting matches throughout the morning and it’s often difficult to tell whether the parties involved are in agreement or argument.

When protesters spot a figure watching them from the roof of City Hall, they wave enthusiastically -- but for one occupier, who warns frantically, “Those are snipers!”

Rumors are widespread at the camp today. Early in the morning one occupier captured the audience’s attention with gossip from the police station parking attendants.

“There’s a rumor that LAPD plan to evict Occupy LA by noon!” he yelled. The pronouncement elicits a concerned hum from his audience, gathered around the center square.

The parking attendants had told him the space was going to be cleared for a commerical or film shoot. The occupiers are visibly agitated -- when a convoy of cop cars emerge from the police station, sirens blaring, a murmur overcomes the crowd. The motorcade turns away from the encampment and occupiers begin to shout.

“Let’s use this as momentum!” yells one occupier. “Let’s use this as a time to get stronger!”

After a showdown between police and protesters last night ended in the arrest of four occupiers, no chances are being taken.

Preparations for all potential outcomes have been made. As soon as courts opened this morning, the National Lawyer’s Guild filed for a restraining order against the city. NLG Director James Lafferty later made a statement saying that the city was breaking a City Council resolution that gave occupiers “permission” to stay on City Hall grounds indefinitely.

“The mayor certainly does not have any business here,” said Lafferty. “We know what this is about. The mayor does not get elected by the 99 percent.”

At the tents, the protesters are arranging their own precautions.

“Ain’t no telling when they’re going to come down to shoot this movie,” said a 21-year-old occupier who goes by the name of Shadow. “It got ugly last night, it’s going to get real ugly tonight.

Many of the occupiers, like Shadow, have received civil disobedience training and the first aid tent is equipped with bandanas and face masks. Wellness Coordinator Shakti Marqui says they’ll soak the bandanas in vinegar and Maalox solutions.

“It helps with the tear gas,” said Marqui.

One occupier, in preparation of the eviction, has taken to the trees. Mark Lipman, a 43-year-old occupier from the East, has climbed one of the trees at City Hall Park and carried his tent and belongings with him.

“If they want my tent, they’re going to have to come up and get it,” Lipman said.

Reach Tasbeeh Herwees here.

Read our complete coverage of the Occupy L.A. eviction.



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