As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads worldwide, it's also filling itself out here at home -- building slowly but surely in small towns and communities surrounding the big urban hubs. (Occupy Venice, Occupy Northridge, Occupy Irvine, Occupy Riverside, etc.)
A brand-new encampment calling itself Occupy Long Beach is now in the same dilemma Occupy L.A. was facing about two weeks ago. For obvious reasons, municipal law in both cities says nobody can camp in a public park after 10 p.m. --
So police are forcing protesters to move their tents onto the sidewalk for the night.
KNX news radio is reporting that two LBC protesters were arrested, and two more cited, for refusing to move their tents off the Lincoln Park lawn last night. Long Beach police confirm. According to the Los Angeles Times, the arrestees were 30-year-old Long Beach resident Jason James and "an unidentified minor."
Occupy Long Beach was birthed only two days before, on Saturday. The CSU Long Beach student newspaper reported there were no arrests that first night:
But by Sunday night, the pack of protesters had grown to about 40. "As officers moved through the park checking tents, some demonstrators chanted and yelled at them but mostly dispersed once the arrests and citations began," reports the Times. Here's how the group itself described the scene on its Facebook page:
On [Sunday] night, four OLBers chose to stay in the park and take the consequences. Two did not resist arrest. One of them was escorted out of the park and was given a misdemeanor ticket. The other was handcuffed, escorted out, and given a ticket.
The other two refused to leave their tent. One was handcuffed, escorted out of the park, and spent the night in jail. The latest is that he will be arraigned on Tuesday. The fourth person resisted passively and peacefully and had to be carried out of the tent. A police van drove into the park and he was carried to it. It looked like the police were trying to not be rough. They did not drag him, but instead lifted him under his arms.
It turns out that he is only 17 and was released to his parents last night. ...
As people woke up, we moved back onto the grass.
Occupy Wall Street in New York had a brief scare when Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to clear out Zuccotti Park for a routine cleaning -- but he later canceled it, seemingly due to pressure from protesters.
And Occupy Los Angeles has had a particularly easy time of staying put. Though they started out having to move their tents off City Hall lawn to the sidewalk perimeter every night, LAPD media relations officer Bruce Borihanh tells us city politicians have ordered police not to enforce the sleeping-in-parks ban.
"The mayor and the city council have issued their support to [protesters], so that's why," he says. "That violation is a low-grade infraction, so they've decided just to let it be."
Looks like all Occupy Long Beach has to do is convince elected city officials that a little clemency will be great for their political careers!
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In the SoCal sphere, Occupy San Diego has probably had the hardest time standing their ground. After police recently cleared the Civic Center premises for a city-sponsored event, protesters have only been allowed to re-erect a single tent. And things got pretty nasty at the clearing:
Occupy Orange County (based in Irvine) has been issued similar nightly eviction orders by police, but according to our sister paper OC Weekly, no arrests have been made.