Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Occupy Wall Street supporters in Los Angeles and Philadelphia braced for police to force them out of their encampments as deadlines passed without immediate consequence.
Protesters have been camped in the nation’s second- and fifth-most-populous cities since almost the beginning of the movement in New York on Sept. 17. The effort to move them follows confrontations with riot-clad authorities from Manhattan to Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked Occupy LA protesters to withdraw from their camp at City Hall by 12:01 a.m. local time. By nightfall, as many as 400 tents remained. A band played and the smell of marijuana wafted through the air. As the deadline passed, the crowd swelled and police officers sought to keep them from blocking streets.
“While Occupy LA has brought needed attention to the economic disparities in our country, an encampment on City Hall grounds is simply not sustainable indefinitely,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. Police “will allow campers ample time to remove their belongings peacefully and without disruption.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter set a deadline of 5 p.m. local time yesterday for protesters to vacate a downtown park. About 50 demonstrators locked arms and refused to move at the entrance to the city’s Dilworth Plaza, according to the Associated Press. As the deadline passed protesters remained and police made no arrests.
Occupy LA demonstrators were preparing for a move to evict them at any time after midnight, said Carlos Marroquin, 52, a Los Angeles homeowner advocate who had been at City Hall for two months.
‘Going to Resist’
“The people are going to resist,” Marroquin said. “Many people will join our forces.”
Aid workers were sent to the site to counsel homeless demonstrators and 50 beds were made available at nearby shelters, Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said in a telephone interview yesterday.
A smattering of protesters gathered up their tents, including Rudy Townsend, a 59-year-old former truck driver who said he’s been homeless since 2009. He said he and his wife would probably move back to Skid Row, several blocks away.
The occupy encampment provided Townsend opportunities to make money doing odd jobs like security and buying food, he said.
“I try to do as much as I can for me and my wife,” he said.
Villaraigosa had offered the demonstrators office space and farmland for their use to encourage them to leave the downtown park on Nov. 22. That offer was rejected by a vote of the protesters the following day, according to the web site occupylosangeles.org.
The Los Angeles protesters instead listed demands that included a moratorium on home foreclosures, no cuts in wages or pensions for municipal employees, and that the city press the state to help “remove corporate personhood and money from politics at the national level.”
--With assistance from Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles. Editors: Pete Young, John Brinsley
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