Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says Occupy LA protesters must leave their encampment on the lawn of City Hall by 12:01 a.m. Monday.RELATED: Why African Americans aren’t embracing Occupy Wall Street
The mayor and police Chief Charlie Beck announced the planned ouster at a Friday afternoon news conference.
The mayor praised the protest and its aims but said the camp of about 485 tents is unsustainable and City Hall Park needs to be cleaned and restored.
Elected city leaders initially embraced the campers and the deadline to leave is a tactic that stands in stark contrast to middle-of-the-night police raids in other cities. Villaraigosa handed out plastic ponchos one rainy day. The City Council passed a resolution to support Occupy LA. Officials found an alternate site for a farmers market that the camp displaced.
But as Occupy Los Angeles entered its seventh week with no end in sight, the dialogue started getting strained.
City Hall still made friendly overtures, trying to make a deal with the activists by offering them 10,000 square feet of office space and empty lots for a garden if they would pack up their tents. Fallout after the proposal was made public and caused the deal to be rescinded.
As camps in other cities degenerated into unrest that led to mass arrests, Occupy L.A. has remained largely a peaceful commune. Police arrive on site only when called in to investigate petty crimes. Marches have resulted in about five spontaneous arrests — the other 70 or so involved protesters who deliberately got arrested to make a political statement.
The hands-off strategy perhaps underscores the liberal leanings of a city that has often been known for counterculture movements.