Police Sweep L.A. Occupy Camp; More Than 200 Arrested

Police in two of the nation's largest cities moved in overnight to sweep away the camps of Occupy protesters. In Philadelphia, protesters marched through the streets; about 50 were arrested. In Los Angeles, hundreds of police deployed from City Hall and took control of a camp nearby, with more than 200 arrests. Steve Inskeep talks with Frank Stoltze of member station KPCC, who was been watching the developments in L.A.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning, it's a busy news morning. Police in two of the nation's largest cities moved in overnight to sweep away the camps of Occupy protesters. In Philadelphia, protesters responded by marching through the streets. About 50 were arrested. A larger police action took place in Los Angeles. There, hundreds of police deployed from City Hall and took control of a nearby camp. More than 200 people have been arrested, we're told.

We're going to talk about this with journalist Frank Stoltze, of our member station KPCC. He's been watching the developments in L.A and had a sleepless night. Hi, Frank.

FRANK STOLTZE, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: And thanks for sticking with us all morning. Now, is the action over? Is the camp cleared at this point?

STOLTZE: The action's over. What's happening now is city clean-up crews are moving through the South Lawn of City Hall, where the camp was, which is strewn with tents and trash and everything that was there - a tree fort that the occupiers had built - and they're starting the process of cleaning it all up.

INSKEEP: OK, so the tree fort is on its way out. Now, how did police conduct this operation?

STOLTZE: Massively. It was one of the biggest police operations I've ever seen in Los Angeles - 1,400 police officers involved. So it was a huge show of force. But in the end, there was very little force used, in part because this is a new LAPD. It exercises much more restraint than it once did, but also because the protesters were fairly well-disciplined. When one of them tried to provoke police, others would shout them down and urge them to be quiet.

INSKEEP: Well, this is the latest of these takeovers of Occupy camps that are takedowns that - has happened in the middle of the night. But was it any surprise? Did people – I mean, there had been an announcement a few days ago that something like this would be coming.

STOLTZE: Yeah, everybody knew it was coming. And in fact, you can't gather 1,400 police officers at Dodgers Stadium and not have word get out. So they knew it was coming, you know, in the hour or two ahead of it. And also, Steve, there have been - good relationship between the police and protesters. The police chief regularly walked through this Occupy L.A. camp. Unlike what we've seen in some other cities - particularly Oakland, here in California - the police here regularly talked to the protesters and even, at times, tried to negotiate them to leave. In the end they decided - many of them, 200 - in an act of civil disobedience, to get arrested.

INSKEEP: Frank Stoltze in Los Angeles, I want to mention again what we said at the top, that in Philadelphia protesters were – were angry. They didn't resist the police directly, but they did march out into the streets, which I guess they were not supposed to do, and quite a number of them were arrested. Have people continued to march about? Where have they gone as the camp has been cleared in Los Angeles?

STOLTZE: No one in sight. They have scheduled a news conference later this morning to talk about what's next for the Occupy movement here in L.A. They do plan a protest at the Port of Los Angeles. It's a coordinated protest with ports up and down the West Coast, and they're trying to shut it down. So right now, though, the protest is essentially over - at least the visible protest on the lawn and in the streets.

INSKEEP: Although you have to wonder how they managed to – how they're going to manage to continue to keep media attention without that central focus and the images that that provides these camps.

STOLTZE: That's going to be a big challenge. And the other challenge is how they act as an organization, by consensus, and these large assemblies each night; everyone has to agree before anything can get done. There are big challenges for the movement here, and elsewhere. And they readily admit that.

INSKEEP: Mr. Stoltze, thanks very much.

STOLTZE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Frank Stoltze, of our member station KPCC. Hopefully, he'll get a nap a little bit later on today.

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