Art Walk Riot Last Month Has LAPD Geared Up: Occupy Opts For Nearby Pershing Square
As cops were gearing up today for another monthly summer Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles, members of Occupy L.A. were hoping that antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan would show up at their DTLA event tonight, which won't be at Art Walk this time.
At the last Art Walk chaos erupted as police took rocks and bottles after trying to get members of Occupy L.A. to clear sidewalks where they were making temporary imagery during a concurrent event they call Chalk Walk.
Officers responded to the demonstrators with less-than-lethal rounds, sparking days of controversy after some of the occupiers showed off their wounds and claimed that all they were doing was drawing on sidewalks with chalk. This time around ...
... Occupy principals are saying that they will not be around for Art Walk.
After a town hall meeting with downtown residents and business owners last week, occupiers say they'll take their "chalking" over to Pershing Square instead tomorrow. (Art Walk happens tonight along Spring Street between Third and Seventh, a few blocks to the east of that park).
Occupy The Hood organizer Bilal Ali told the Weekly that the decision was made to stay away from Art Walk to ...
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... continue expressing free speech without causing harm to small business people.
He said the 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. event at Pershing Square would include a "really really free market" with bartering, not to mention chalking and, possibly, the appearance of Sheehan.
Cops, nonetheless, were gearing up for Art Walk crowds along Spring Street. Police said in a statement last night that they'll be doubling down on traffic and parking tickets:
Due to the large number of participants it is critical that the ingress and egress in and around the Art Walk be remain free and clear of any obstructions or traffic issues. The Los Angeles Police Department will be enforcing all traffic and parking laws to ensure that the area remains accessible for emergency vehicles at all times.
LAPD Officer Cleon Joseph told us:
I've got no word of occupy being out there. But we always try to be prepared.
[Update at 11:54 a.m.]: Three Occupy members who were chalking at Pershing Square about 10 this morning were detained by the LAPD for what the department deems to be vandalism, but only one was arrested, Officer Christopher No told the Weekly.
Of those detained, he said, "the whole group is originally from Occupy Oakland." Members of the group have come to L.A. to join in chalking demonstrations today:
— Occupy Oakland (@OccupyOakland) August 8, 2012
The person arrested had an outstanding warrant, No said. The other two were released.
Occupy Oakland tweeted this today:
— Occupy Oakland (@OccupyOakland) August 9, 2012
No said "I don't know" if the sometimes raucous Occupy Oakland folks were going to stay at Pershing Square or hit up Art Walk tonight.
Late last month Occupy organizers stated that they would "engage in willful public expression against political repression" at tonight's Chalk Walk.
A lot of officers are going to be deployed around that area to be visible and deter individuals from causing havoc.
[Update at 3:19 p.m.]: Some Art Walk participants are claiming that the LAPD is pulling the plug on live music associated with tonight's walk, although it was our understanding that live amplified music hasn't been allowed on the street for months under rules suggested last year by a pre-Chalk Walk city task force. Here's a Facebook page about the alleged music cancellation.
LAPD Officer Karen Rayner told the Weekly she hadn't heard of any such music cancellation.
In the meantime LAPD commanders and city officials were participating in a briefing regarding Art Walk and Pershing Square's Chalk Walk this afternoon, police said.
Code Pink organizers told us they'll be at Pershing Square to support Chalk Walk. One organizer said Code Pink's email database was blasted with a call for members to join in at the demonstration.
[Added at 4:10 p.m.]: It was brought to our attention that the music event, above, allegedly cancelled by cops, was to be indoors, in a "warehouse." Such a happening would normally require a permit, so maybe police were using that fact to pull the plug in light of the Chalk Walk tension.
[Update at 4:38 p.m.]: Another of those three people from this morning's Pershing Square chalking was arrested because -- get this -- he took offense to a comment about the quality of his art.
The victim and critic was down from Oakland, the LAPD's Rayner told us. The suspect was subject to citizen's arrest before cops showed up and collared him for alleged battery, she said.
Regarding music, Rayner wasn't aware of any specific events being shut down but said that vice officers would be checking for permits, so music events without proper paperwork would probably be busted.
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