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OccupyLA Told By Mayor and LAPD To Close By Monday

Staff Reporters |
November 25, 2011 | 4:50 p.m. PST

Screenshot KABC-TV
Screenshot KABC-TV
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told protesters at OccupyLA that they must move from the steps of City Hall by midnight Monday. Accompanied by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck at a Friday afternoon press conference, the Democratic mayor who has roots in the social activist movement, described the action as more of a transfer than an eviction.

He was interrupted twice, however, by participants of OccupyLA who said they were not automatically accepting his offer.

The mayor began his announcement by praising the goals and spirit of the Occupy movement saying "It has awaked the country's conscience and given voice to those who have not been heard." 

He then added it is "now time to move...time to close the park."

Both the mayor and the police chief stressed they were seeking no confrontation with protesters and the mayor added he shared the movement's goals to fight for the "disappearing middle class." Villaraigosa also lauded his administration and the protesters for being in constant communication and avoding the sort of violence that has erupted in other cities like Oakland.

"We decided to do things differently here," he said.

"We are prepapred to make arrests," he said, "but that is not our intention."

The mayor said that once the deadline comes into effect on Monday it does not mean police will come and start making arrests.  Rather, he said, he expects an orderly process.  He said that LAPD community officers, and social workers would spread through the camp and provide assistance necessary. Fifty beds would also be made available, he said, for the homeless among the movement.  

While he said City Hall park would be closed for "rehabilitation" the steps of the building would still be open during the day for public assembly.

OccupyLA participants have been expecting such a move by the city but they have not yet said how they will react.

"The goal here is to do this as peacefully as possible...this has been a good experience," the mayor said during an exchange with the press.

The city's move comes 56 days after the L.A. encampment began.

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