- A federal complaint is filed by Occupy protesters
- A deadline for protesters to disperse has passed
- The Occupy LA camp has been in place for 60 days
Refusing to leave their camp at Los Angeles' City Hall, Occupy protesters were seeking a federal court injunction to block their removal.
According to the complaint filed Monday, posted on the website of the Los Angeles Times, protesters are asking the court to address what they claim is "an unconstitutional deprivation of access to a traditional public forum, the south lawn of City Hall, for First Amendment activity."
Protesters say enforcement of the city's "anti-camping" provision is left up to the whim of the police. Recently, they note in the complaint, protesters were allowed to camp at a park to get a wrist band for free medical services; approximately 500 movie fans camped out on sidewalks for several days ahead of the first midnight showing of the new "Twilight" movie; and more than 1,000 people camped out ahead of the "Twilight" premiere, forcing a street closure.
"Even on Skid Row, just blocks from City Hall and around the corner from the Central LAPD station, each year families camp on the sidewalk for days to get free school supplies distributed by the Fred Jordan Mission," according to the documents. "Each of these 'camping' events is highly publicized in the media, takes place in highly-trafficked areas and could not possibly be an unnoticed and unintentional exception to enforcement of the municipal code."
The City Council has "expressly affirmed" that the Occupy LA demonstrators are within their First Amendment rights, the documents said, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in ordering them to leave, overstepped his authority.
The protesters have held their ground and rallied on Monday, defying a 12:01 a.m deadline to disperse. Four people were arrested, but police then pulled back.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck would not specify when the remaining protesters will be removed.
"I've always said, we will enforce that law on our own timetable," Beck said Monday, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.
"Our communities have real problems, but the camp at City Hall is not one of them," said Maribel Nolasco, with Good Jobs LA, one of the groups working with the Occupy LA movement.
"Elected officials in L.A. and around the country should be more concerned about enforcing regulations on banks, than enforcing park rules. They should be busy creating jobs," she said.
Los Angeles police spokesman Sgt. Andy Neiman said Monday the park is officially closed, but recognized "several hundred" Occupy protesters are still there.
"At this point, anybody who is occupying the park could be subject to arrest," he said -- but he also would not say when police might act.
Beck said earlier Monday he hoped most protesters would leave voluntarily.
Villaraigosa announced the deadline Sunday night, saying "an encampment on City Hall grounds is simply not sustainable indefinitely."
Elsewhere in California Monday, protesters took over the Hahn Student Services building at the University of California at Santa Cruz, according to UC Santa Cruz spokesman Jim Burns. The students were upset about the recent pepper spray incident at UC Davis, he said, adding that "there is no immediate decision to evict them."
And at UC Davis, between 100-150 students took part in a "teach-in" at Dutton Hall, which houses the school's financial aid and student services offices, as well as some classrooms, UC Davis spokeswoman Claudia Morain said.
The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York in September has spread across major cities worldwide as a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth.
In recent weeks, cities have begun clearing encampments, citing economic, health and public safety concerns.
The Los Angeles encampment, which has been in place for some 60 days, has become the largest remaining one after police raided New York's Zuccotti Park on November 15 and dismantled the nearly two-month-old camp. Protesters there are still demonstrating but cannot remain in the park overnight.