Los Angeles moved to evict Occupy protesters from the park outside its City Hall last night, which the occupiers had been calling “Solidarity Park.” More than a thousand cops in riot gear arrested 200 people and dismantled tents. According to reports, the eviction was mostly peaceful. The last holdouts were three guys up in a tree.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, about 50 protesters were arrested overnight as the city evicted them from their encampment outside City Hall. Many protesters actually marched elsewhere instead of facing arrest, unusual for Occupy protests. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that they engaged in a “chaotic night of cat-and-mouse that ended before daylight” with police.
In L.A., Mayor Villagairosa held a post-raid press conference, telling reporters that “I said that here in L.A., we’d chart a different path. And we did.” And that includes the LAPD’s treatment of media. Before the raid, the LAPD made public stringent rules for press, as explained at our sister site over at LA Weekly; there would be a small media pool allowed inside the raid, and interested media outlets had to attend a meeting at 7:15 p.m. yesterday. The meeting was not announced until 5:30 p.m.
The list includes three reporters, three photographers, four television outlets, and three radio outlets. Everyone else was not allowed in, much like at the Zuccotti Park raid two weeks ago.
LA Weekly also reported that the pool media would “be notified an hour before police dive in, and won’t be allowed to phone home with their juice until the eviction is over”; meaning, essentially, that there would be a media blackout even on the chosen ones until a time of the LAPD’s choosing. Did this also include Twitter? The Twitter account of Dakota Smith, a Los Angeles Daily News reporter who was in the pool, shows scant tweeting during the hours of the raid, and Simone Wilson at LA Weekly tells us that KNX news radio’s reporter was told that they were “embargoed” from tweeting.
Apparently outlets in the pool even agreed not to disclose certain LAPD actions:
On the face of it, the LAPD’s controlling attitude towards press seems even more aggressive than the treatment that New York media received at the Zuccotti raid. But there are no reports of journalists being roughed up or arrested at the L.A. eviction. And at least some media were allowed inside police lines, unlike at Zuccotti where everyone — press pass or no — was kept away from the action. At least the LAPD gave media warning that they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs.