“Last night, we witnessed perhaps one of the finest moments in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.
After 58 days of the Occupy LA protest, 1,400 officers enforced the closure of City Hall Park. The closure, conducted in a professional and restrained manner, was meticulously planned and involved coordination with multiple city departments. Over 200 people were arrested with a minimal use of force and with no major injuries to the police or to protesters. The activists’ fundamental rights were respected. This was a peaceful and orderly conclusion of the encampment at City Hall.
Today, the LAPD stands as a shining example of constitutional policing.
I commend the officers who took part in the operation. They are an honor to their profession. Their restraint – in the face of a potentially dynamic situation – is a key reason why City Hall Park was closed in an orderly manner. I also want to commend Chief Beck and his command staff for their leadership over the last eight weeks. At every turn, Chief Beck displayed a steady hand and excellent judgment in developing his department’s response to Occupy LA. The General Services Police Officers, social workers and other City personnel also made key contributions to the successful closure of the park.
From the start, we pledged to do things differently in Los Angeles. We took a measured approach, respected protesters’ first amendment rights, sought to de-escalate conflict and supported open communication.
We did not rush. We respected the dignity of the protesters and gave them time to gather their belongings and arrange their departure. When we made the decision to close the park, we made sure that ample human services, such as shelter beds, were available to those who needed them. As a result, the LAPD was able to avoid the violent confrontations that have marred similar operations in other cities.
The Occupy movement should not be about defending a particular patch of parkland, but rather about spreading the message of economic equality and pushing for social justice. I thank participants who heeded our call and left City Hall Park before the operation, those who stayed, but departed peacefully or were arrested without incident. These Angeleno activists have also demonstrated to the rest of the country that social change is best achieved through peaceful means.
Instead of grinding to a halt amid confrontation, the Occupy LA movement can now amplify their calls for social justice and economic opportunity. In the days ahead, we must build on the foundation of cooperation that we have established over these last two months.
Although we expect further protests as Occupy LA works to broaden its movement, we will work hard to ensure that the City handles these actions with the appropriate restraint. I hope that the Occupy LA activists will do the same.
The movement’s message of restoring the balance to American society is too important to be lost amid clashes and conflict.”
Source: LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Facebook.
Photo credit to: LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Facebook.