Wednesday, 30 November 2011

1,400 police officers storm Occupy L.A.

1,400 police officers storm Occupy L.A.

In a massive show of force, 1,400 police officers, some in riot gear stormed the Occupy Los Angeles camp early Wednesday, driving protesters from the park and arresting more than 200 who defied orders to leave. Similar raids in Philadelphia led to 50 arrests, but the scene in both cities was relatively peaceful.

Police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia moved in on Occupy Wall Street encampments under darkness in an effort to clear out some of the longest-lasting protest sites since crackdowns ended similar occupations across the country.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck praised the officers and the protesters for their restraint and the peaceful way the eviction was carried out.

Officers flooded down the steps of City Hall just after midnight and started dismantling the two-month-old camp two days after a deadline passed for campers to leave the park. Officers in helmets and wielding batons and guns with rubber bullets converged on the park from all directions with military precision and began making arrests after several orders were given to leave.

There were no injuries and no drugs or weapons were found during a search of the emptied camp which was strewn with garbage after the raid. City workers put up concrete barriers to wall off the park while it's restored.

The raid in Los Angeles came after demonstrators with the movement in Philadelphia marched through the streets after being evicted from their site. About 40 protesters were arrested after refusing to clear a street several blocks northeast of City Hall, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. They were lined up in cuffs and loaded on to buses by officers. Six others were arrested earlier after remaining on a street police that police tried to clear.

"The police officers who were involved in this operation were hand-picked for this assignment," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. "They're highly trained and disciplined and showed a tremendous amount of restraint and professionalism in carrying out this morning's operation."

Ramsey said he would have preferred to evict the protesters without making arrests, but some refused orders to clear the street and had to be taken into custody. He said three officers sustained minor injuries. Protesters reported some injuries, but none appeared serious.

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