Police in riot gear were dispatched to Los Angeles after hundreds of people, including occupy LA protesters, gathered in the downtown area. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.
Police clad in riot gear skirmished with protesters, including Occupy demonstrators, in downtown Los Angeles late Thursday, leaving four officers injured and 17 people arrested. At least one man, who said he was not part of the protest, reported being struck by a rubber bullet, local media said.
A woman who said she was an Occupy member told the Los Angeles Times that protesters attended the monthly “ArtWalk” on Thursday to support those who had previously been arrested for writing on the sidewalk with chalk.
The demonstration started at about 8:40 p.m. (11:40 p.m. ET) Thursday, when protesters began taking over the intersection of Fifth and Spring streets, LAPD Officer Karen Rayner said. At times during the first hours of the protest, crowds and police could be seen running from the area. Police ordered the crowd to leave around 11 p.m., and a few skirmishes appeared to break out as officers tried to move the protesters.
Police spokeswoman Rosario Herrera told msnbc.com that protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers, who responded with baton strikes, rubber bullets and bean bags.
Three police officers had minor injuries while a fourth one suffered a mild concussion, she said. Of the 17 arrests, one was for assault on a police officer and two for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.
'Chalk walk' march
Protesters posted this notice about the demonstration on their Facebook page Thursday afternoon:
"Tonight, #ArtWalk in #DTLA becomes #ChalkWalk! Occupy Los Angeles has had a laughably ridiculous 12 arrests the past 6 weeks for children's sidewalk chalk. Tonight from 7-9pm, occupiers, artists, enthusiasts, rebels, and the intrigued will defend the First Amendment and freedom of speech."
"We were handing out free chalk for freedom of speech," Cheryl Aichele, 34, a member of Occupy L.A. told the LA Times.
Messages written in chalk covered the downtown intersection, including: "You wouldn't shoot your kids for this, why shoot us?" and "Chalk the police."
Police used batons and non-lethal projectiles to get the crowd to leave, the newspaper reported. Demonstrators threw bottles and cans at officers. Some people in the crowd also told fellow protesters to remain peaceful.
A man said he was visiting ArtWalk when he was struck in the ribs with a rubber bullet.
"I was walking down the street and I saw a group of people. I was just here for ArtWalk, I didn't know anything was gonna happen," Charlie Shepherd said.
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A unidentified man is arrested by Los Angeles police on Fourth Street and Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles late Thursday.
Aerial views of the scene showed demonstrators throwing objects at police. A member of the crowd threw a traffic cone at an unmarked police car driving by and some people could be seen dancing in front of police lines.
During the dispersal orders, police told media outlets to stay at least 40 feet away from the standoff between the crowd and officers in riot gear.
The nationwide Occupy movement grew out of contempt for the “1 percent,” and targeted Wall Street, corporate greed and political corruption. Spotted protests have continued after authorities shuttered many of the movement’s encampments late last fall and over the winter.
Occupy LA set up its campsite outside City Hall for about two months last fall before some 1,400 police officers swept demonstrators off the lawn. As many as 500 men, women and children were estimated to have participated in the encampment.
The city council estimates the costs related to Occupy LA could reach $5 million for policing, cleanup and other costs.
Msnbc.com's Miranda Leitsinger contributed to this report.
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