LOS ANGELES - Occupy LA protesters have said they will stay at their encampment outside of City Hall, despite the looming Monday morning deadline announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Friday, reported the Associated Press. Very few people have taken down their tents, and dozens have attended a teach-in on resistance tactics in preparation for a possible raid early Monday morning.
Speaking at a press conference, Villaraigosa announced the park where protesters are encamped would be closed at 12:01 AM on Monday, November 28.
He cited public safety concerns for the closure, saying that the need to monitor the encampment had diverted law enforcement officers from other duties.
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Villaraigosa indicated that protesters would not be forcibly evicted once the deadline had passed, however, assuring that officials would "continue to work humanely with Occupy LA."
"Our goal is to do this as peacefully as possible," Police Chief Charlie Beck said at the news conference. Social workers will visit the site and beds in homeless shelters will be found for those who need them, he promised.
City authorities have been keen to stress their non-violent, even sympathetic, approach to the Occupy protesters, the Los Angeles Times said.
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The City Council passed a resolution in support of the demonstration and officials held regular meetings with representatives from the camp, said the Times - but concerns for the park and public safety have finally prompted the authorities to order the camp to go.
In a direct appeal to the demonstrators, Villaraigosa urged them to "move from holding a particular patch of park land to spreading the message of economic justice and signing more people up for the push to restore the balance to American society."
The protesters have already rejected an earlier from the council to get the use of a city building and farmland in return for leaving their camp next week. In their first official statement to city authorities, released on Thursday, protesters vowed to continue to occupy the park until their demands were met.
Their camp, set up on October 1, holds roughly 400 tents and 700 to 800 people, said Reuters. It is one of the biggest and longest-established Occupy camps on the west coast, and the largest remaining such camp in the US.
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