LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced at a Friday press conference that City Hall Park will close at 12:01 AM on Monday, November 28, 2011, because the City of Los Angeles cannot maintain the public safety of a long-term encampment. During the period when City Hall Park is closed, a Free Speech area on the Spring Street City Hall steps will remain open during regular park hours.
Mayor Villaraigosa, who was joined at the press conference by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, recognized the Occupy LA movement for its peaceful efforts to change the national political and economic conversation and outlined a series of steps the City is taking to help demonstrators comply with the park closure.
“Occupy LA has brought needed attention to the growing disparities in our country and I look forward to its ongoing efforts to build an economy that works for everyone,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “As we continue to respect the exercise of everyone’s First Amendment rights in our civic center and throughout Los Angeles, City Hall Park is temporarily closing out of concern for the public safety implications of a long-term encampment.”
Since the encampment began in City Hall Park on October 1, 2011, Mayor Villaraigosa has said that a long-term encampment is not sustainable.
After consultation with Chief of Police Charlie Beck about the public safety implications of a long-term encampment, Mayor Villaraigosa directed the Department of Recreation and Parks to close City Hall Park at 12:01 AM on Monday, November 28, 2011. The park will be closed and reopened to public access during regular park hours once it is repaired.
Since the start of the Occupy LA movement, the City of Los Angeles has worked closely with the demonstrators to ensure that the participants’ First Amendment rights of free expressions are safeguarded while also maintaining adequate health and safety standards.
The City assigned law enforcement personnel from both LAPD and General Services police to protect, patrol, and monitor the situation. The encampment in City Hall Park has forced the City to divert law enforcement personnel from other essential public safety services. While the Occupy LA movement has been peaceful, the Mayor determined that a long-term overnight encampment cannot be sustained from the standpoint of public safety.
Once the park officially closes at 12:01 AM on Monday, November 28, 2011, the City will continue to work humanely with Occupy LA and others in the park to help them comply with the park closure.
Officers with the General Services Police Department, the city’s enforcement agency in city parks, will walk through the encampment handing out bilingual flyers and give verbal notice of the closure. Los Angeles County social workers will also visit the encampment, making people aware of the social services that are available.
“As the Chief of Police, I have been extremely proud of how our Department and our City has interacted with the Occupy LA participants over the past seven weeks,” said Chief Beck. “We will continue to work with Occupy LA in order to help them comply with the park closure.”
To facilitate the removal of personal property from City Hall Park, nearby curbside parking will be made available for loading and unloading.
The City of Los Angeles announced on Wednesday that 50 shelter beds will be made available on Monday for homeless members of the Occupy LA encampment. On December 1, 2011, the City’s Winter shelter program will begin. The program is administered by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and makes 870 beds within the City of Los Angeles available for homeless individuals on a first come, first served basis.