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Los Angeles police officers process two arrested Occupy LA protesters near City Hall after a deadline to dismantle their encampment passed on Wednesday.
Major police actions have cleared Occupy movement encampments in New York, Portland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, leaving protesters in other cities preparing for the same. Among the next likely targets are camps in Seattle, Boston and San Francisco.
For some 100-150 Occupy Seattle protesters living on the grounds of Seattle Central Community College, eviction was ordered on Nov. 23, but action was temporarily barred by a restraining order. A judge is slated to rule on the case Friday afternoon — after which the camp could become fair game.
College administrators have voiced support for the camp and First Amendment rights but on Nov. 23 called for an emergency change of state administrative rules to bar camping, citing “deteriorating conditions” in the camp.
Protesters argue that the problems administrators and others are pointing to are preexisting conditions — homelessness, mental illness and poverty — that have been ignored. “We are dealing with people who have been thrown under the bus — people who have addictions, they are out on the street,” says Joshua Farris, an organizer. “We’re saying these drug problems, this crime, these people who we are helping were here before we even came here … We’re saying our presence is making a positive impact. They are saying it's negative.”
The protesters are talking with neighborhood churches to create a backup plan in the event of eviction.
If the ban on camping is upheld, the eviction could be effective by the end of business Friday, said college spokesperson Patricia Paquette. But she emphasized that community college chancellor Jill Wakefield is committed to a civilized outcome.
“Seattle is well-known for coming up with innovative solutions,” Wakefield said. “My hope is that we would be able to provide a model of cooperation to move the campground to a location that is safer and more appropriate.”
In San Francisco, members of the Occupy movement who have staked out territory in Justin Herman Plaza had faced a noon deadline to clear out. It was the latest of the “final” orders to vacate, which have been ignored by the demonstrators.
Protesters met to consider an alternative site offered by the city, but the meeting ended inconclusively, according to a report by the Mercury News. As of noon, according to the report, no one at the encampment of about 150 appeared ready to leave.
Meanwhile in Boston, a judge ruled Thursday that protesters may stay in their encampment in Dewey Square until she issues a decision on or before Dec. 15, Bloomberg reports. There is a restraining order in place to prevent eviction of 100-150 protesters despite warnings that the combination of crowding, flammable tarps and cigarettes presented a safety hazard that one fire official compared to napalm.
In Portland, some Occupy demonstrators were planning to march through the city Saturday and occupy another unspecified park. The Occupy Portland folks were cleared from encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks on Nov. 13.
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