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Cities: Occupy protests cost taxpayers millions

Michal Czerwonka / Getty Images

Supporters of Occupy LA march through downtown Los Angeles marking International Worker's Day on May 1, 2012.

Los Angeles officials say the costs of police overtime and cleaning up local parks due to the Occupy protests have nearly doubled to $5 million, as cities across the country continue to tally the protests’ price tag.

City officials initially said the cost would be $2.6 million, but Los Angeles Councilman Mitch Englander told NBC Los Angeles the figure had grown, with the bulk of the cost attributed to overtime for law enforcement.

 


"At a very difficult time financially with the city, at a time we're talking about laying off civilian LAPD and fire personnel, this is going to have a dramatic effect on the city budget," said Englander, chair of the public safety committee. "For every action the city takes, there is a cost."

 

 

 

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The two-month camp in the city closed Nov. 30.

Other events in the city also racked up millions of dollars in cost: the 2010 Lakers Parade was estimated at $1.8 million and the Michael Jackson funeral came in at $3.2 million in 2009, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Other cities have spent from tens of thousands to millions of dollars in police overtime and cleanup costs. In New York, the tally reached $17 million through mid-March, DNAinfo.com reported, citing police testimony at a city budget hearing. In Oakland, the city had paid $3.7 million through Feb. 27, according to a report by Oakland Local.

Of the money the cities said they spent, Justin Wedes, of Occupy Wall Street, noted: "America doesn't need to spend millions of dollars on a paramilitary response to citizens exercising their First Amendment rights in public space."

Most of the Occupy camps across the country were shuttered over the winter, but protesters continue to hold marches and demonstrations against income equality, corporate greed and political corruption. Their latest national action, held on May Day, brought thousands of people into the streets.

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