Villaraigosa, City Hall cool on Occupy L.A. sticking around *

occupy-jewish-sign.jpgIt appears the relationship is chilling between City Hall's politicos and the encampment of protesters outside on the lawn. Mayor Villaraigosa made a point of saying this afternoon that Occupy L.A., which has been there more than two weeks now, isn't welcome to stay forever. "I respect the protesters' right to peacefully assemble and express their views," Villaraigosa told the L.A. Times. "City officials have been in a continuous and open dialogue with the organizers of Occupy L.A. However, the protesters must respect city laws and regulations, and while they have been allowed to camp on City Hall lawns, that cannot continue indefinitely." Earlier, Councilman Bill Rosendahl sent basically the same message. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is saying that since city ordinances already ban overnight sleeping in parks, the city "can and should enforce the law in a fair, consistent, and even-handed manner." Villaraigosa's office said officials have been asked to look into alternative locations and to draft rules regulating when people are allowed to be at City Hall, the Times says.

The encampment, while small by Los Angeles protest standards, has grown to fill the City Hall lawn and remains enthralling to media, camera people and sympathetic activists. But there's no sign that it's message is exactly exciting the L.A. masses. Occupy L.A., as Jim Newton and other writers have noted, also has an identity problem in that it has no real beef with the institution it is squatting beside.

* Occupy LA responds: "We appreciate Mayor Villaraigosa's statement of respect and Senator Feinstein for acknowledging our first amendment rights. As for a time stamp on our departure, there is none. Regarding the perceived lack of focus: Our actions are governed by a democratic process and we go through process to gain consensus. This can sometimes be lengthy, but we are determined that, as representatives of the 99%, all voices are heard and considered." Full statement

Cropped photo: Iris Schneider

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