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Occupy Heads to Police Commission Over Art Walk / Chalk Walk Clash With LAPD

Skater down at Art Walk.
Skater down at Art Walk.
Tommy Yoon / YouTube

Following Thursday's clash between riot police and the Occupy LA movement downtown during monthly Art Walk festivities, members of the group are headed to this morning's L.A. Police Commission meeting to lodge complaints.

Occupy The Hood organizer Bilal Ali tells the Weekly that his spin-off organization will be joined by Occupy LA members and others as they take their grievances to the LAPD's ultimate bosses, the commission, where ...

... formal complaints will be filed, he said:

We're going to tell them what really went down. We were brutally attacked and assaulted by the LAPD.

The clash Thursday happened a Fifth and Spring Streets after police asked "Chalk Walk" participants organized by Occupy to move from a sidewalk in the area. The key contention here was that the "chalkers" were engaged in vandalism.

But police told the Weekly that an ever bigger issue is that chalkers were blocking the sidewalk and forcing Art Walk pedestrians to hit the streets.

That's a sensitive topic because almost a year ago to the day a two-month-old boy was killed near Fourth and Spring streets amid criticism that the sidewalks and streets at Art Walk were getting dangerously overcrowded.

Ali calls the sidewalk-blocking charge "ludicrous:"

People are stopping conversing, you have to walk around people all the time. People are coming out smoking, drinking, talking. Those sidewalks are always blocked during Art Walk.

After trying to clear them from the sidewalks, police say, demonstrators rushed to the middle of the intersection at Fifth and Spring, blocked traffic and drew in chalk on the street in an intentional act of civil disobedience.

That's when the riot gear came out, apparently, and rocks and bottles were thrown at officers, injuring four. (Occupy says four of their own were also hurt.)

The Weekly was told by a few longtime downtown observers that similar chalking during on ongoing Occupy occupation outside the offices of the powerful Central City Association has put authorities on edge, perhaps priming police for Thursday night's showdown over the otherwise temporary street art.

The pro-development, pro-business CCA has strong ties to City Hall, and it has a downtown security force all its own. (A sister security force, that of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, which shares its leader with the CCA, was caught last year helping the LAPD during an Occupy protest despite policy that would prohibit private security from doing police work.)

Ali:

The CCA basically runs downtown L.A. They run the police department. I'm sure there was talk about cracking down on chalkers.

Ali, by the way, was due in court this week for a vandalism charge: He was caught chalking last month outside the CCA.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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