In stark contrast to the violent repression of the Occupy Wall Street marches across the nation, authorities in Los Angeles, California, showed restraint towards protesters outside City Hall even after a Sunday midnight deadline for their evacuation passed.
Though pepper-spray and tear-gas have been periodically deployed against the protesters ever since its inception in mid-September in New York City, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in an interview on Monday his office had made it “absolutely clear” that it was not sustainable to be at that City Hall Park space indefinitely.
The absence of violence in one of the earliest sites of the protests was a far cry from the scenes in Oakland, California, and University of California at Davis. In Oakland, war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a serious skull injury after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister last month. Oakland also saw a second veteran, Kayvan Sabehgi, involved in an attack by police that left him with a lacerated spleen. Earlier this month outrage was sparked by police pepper-spraying peaceful, seated students at UC-Davis in the face.
The situation in LA did have moments of tension as police in riot gear moved in on the protesters from three separate directions after the passage of the deadline. According to reports, police had estimated that the crowd had expanded to at least 2,000 by 11.30 p.m. local time. Yet only three arrests were reported by daybreak, each of those due to protesters blocking the streets rather than for their occupancy of the park space.