News24

LA cops arrest 70+ Occupy protesters

2011-11-18 11:17

Los Angeles - Police said they arrested more than 70 anti-Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles on Thursday, but there were no clashes as West Coast demonstrators helped mark two months of the movement.

Further north, officers arrested more than 30 people in Portland, Oregon, while riot forces cleared out an encampment at the University of California, Berkeley for the second time in barely a week.

In Los Angeles protests snarled traffic in the city's downtown financial district starting in the morning, when police arrested 20 people to clear a sit-in, and continuing during the afternoon and evening.

LAPD responds

The LA Police Department (LAPD) said officers moved in when protestors strayed from a pre-determined route for their march. While mostly staying on pavements, others began disrupting traffic.

"We recognise that when there's a large group of people, sometimes they'll miss a streetlight. We don't have a problem with that," LAPD spokesperson Andy Smith told KCAL9 television.

"But what we do have a problem with, is when they take over a part of the street - intentionally occupy it - and then refuse to leave when we ask them, that's when they go to jail," he added.

Some 45 people were arrested without resistance on a grassy area of the Bank of America Plaza, where they had linked arms in the late afternoon and refused to leave.

Meanwhile in Oregon, police said they had arrested 34 protestors during a day of marching in Portland, where 50 people were arrested over the weekend as officers cleared two downtown anti-Wall Street camps.

Positive publicity

Twenty-five were arrested near the Steel Bridge, while nine were taken into custody inside a branch of the Wells Fargo bank, mostly for criminal trespassing, the Portland Police Department said.

Further south in Berkeley, near San Francisco, riot police cleared out some 20 tents from a square in the middle of the elite college campus, a camp which had sprung up again despite being cleared last week.

Back in Los Angeles, protestors were happy with the peaceful way the day went.

"We want positive publicity, we want people to know the truth, we want the middle-class to be back where the middle-class was," said one protestor.

"We want big corporations and the rich to be accountable," the protester, who was in her 20s and identified herself as a union member, told KTLA television.