For all further updates, see: “Occupy L.A. Pitches Mini Tent City at Bank of America Plaza; Riot Police Move in for Arrests.”
Update, 1:15 p.m.: VIDEO of occupiers blocking the intersection of Grand and Fifth, at the bottom.
Update, 12:45 p.m.: @OccupyLA reports that riot police just “charged protestors” and “blocked everyone in” at Broadway and Third. More protesters are being arrested.
Update, 10:30 a.m.: Figueroa has been reopened for cars and foot traffic.
The first real arrests of the two-month Occupy L.A. demonstrations just went down at Fourth Street and Figueroa, where a circle of 21 protesters had joined hands around three slogan-covered tents in the middle of the street. (As promised.) They were all arrested for civil disobedience at about 9:45 a.m. as 1,500-plus supporters flanked them on the sidewalks.
Compared to the reported mayhem (and journalist beatdowns) in New York today — where Occupy Wall Street is orchestrating a similar day of action against America's financial institutions — the Los Angeles arrests were pretty mellow, according to witnesses at the scene. Still very emotional, though, as protesters were carried off, one by one, by LAPD officers in riot gear.
A couple more L.A. arrests earlier this morning were a bit more unexpected:
LA Weekly photographer Colin Young-Wolff says that two protesters were caught and cuffed after “some of the Occupy movement split off and went to the police line ahead.”
The march route wound through the downtown financial district, beginning at Hope and Third, then ending at the illegal tent circle. Occupiers denounced government bailouts for the nation's banks and tax breaks for its major corporations, while the 99 percent goes hungry and jobless.
Five minutes before the bulk of the arrests were made, police announced over vehicle bullhorn that the protest was an act of civil disobedience and failure to disperse. “The rest of the people on the sidewalk cheered and chanted during the arrests,” says Young-Wolff.
According to reporter Ramon Galindo, the group of arrestees included one (very ballsy) 82-year-old woman:
That was probably the height of the fear and tension, as cops raised their non-lethal weapons and batons in anticipation of possible resistance. Here's some video footage from NBC LA reporter John Cádiz Klemack.
KNX news radio reports that arrestees' bail is set at $500 a pop.
Young-Wolff says protesters are now continuing to march — though he's not quite sure to where, exactly. The @OccupyLA Twitter account instructs followers to meet at City Hall at 11:30 a.m. for another demonstration.
Update, 1:15 p.m.: Local FOX reporter Phil Shuman has been posting regular video updates to the financial-district invasion today. Here's the most recent one, which shows protesters blocking the intersection of Grand and Fifth:
According to KNX news radio, most of them are staying on the sidewalk to avoid arrest, but are causing “traffic problems” nonetheless. Others are heading back to Bank of America. Across the country at Occupy Wall Street, a whopping 175 people have reportedly been arrested since morning.