What should have been a warm 'n' fuzzy cleanup of the abandoned Hyde Park Library in South L.A. this morning went awry when responding LAPD officers reportedly mistook the Youth Justice Coalition for a faction of Occupy L.A.
Given the post-raid tension between cops and occupiers, the case of mistaken identity didn't bode well for the Inglewood youth group. "Despite the fact that this library has been abandoned since 2004, LAPD is here telling young people they have no right to access..."
... Tweeted blogger Maegan Ortiz. And she soon added: "Commander Green LAPD is giving young people at abandonded library 30 minutes to leave or be arrested with 5k bail."
The former library site is under the supervision of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, that elusive city department responsible for fixing up blighted areas with local property taxes -- yet notorious for favoring fancy high-rises and billionaires' parking garages instead.
Could explain the longtime neglect of this dilapidated eyesore. And god forbid some fed-up kids try to do CRA officials' job for them!
The CRA says on its website that it hopes to transform the ex-library into public housing by 2014. However, protesters have indicated they'd rather it become a community space for educational workshops and entertainment. (Of course, that'd be less profitable for the CRA. Reminds us a little of the L.A. City Council's blatant disregard, recently, of the South Central Farmers' vision for their own land.)
Cleanup organizer Kurti Parekh said to KPCC that "the Youth Justice Coalition had talked to the CRA about the cleanup, but was unclear whether express permission was given."
No matter the dialogue beforehand, LAPD officers immediately interpreted the forced library cleanup as a mini occupation, in the tradition of Occupy L.A.'s former camp at City Hall.
An ominous police helicopter even circled overhead.
Guess this is what Los Angeles protesters, no matter how harmless (and even helpful, in this case), can expect for the future of demonstration policing. Just call it the Occupy effect.
Though to be fair, there were some disorienting Occupy-style drums employed at this morning's attempted cleanup:
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Thankfully, at the last minute, police did back off. "LAPD says gathering at library appeared to be a protest, not a cleanup," Tweeted KPCC. "No official dispersal order given yet."
However, from where Ortiz stood: "Even once off library space, young people drumming y chanting outside. LAPD is threatening tickets for being in street y blocking sidewalk."
All because they wanted their damn library back. [Update: "The coalition intended to clean up the former Hyde Park Library on 6527 Crenshaw Blvd. and have workshops and food hand-outs starting today and lasting until Friday," reports KPCC.] Sigh. Dysfunction, exemplified.