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LA Mayor Orders Occupy Protesters Out by Monday

"The movement is at a crossroads."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered Occupy LA out of its City Hall encampment, after having been supportive of the movement in the past. (AP File Photo)

Mayor orders Occupy LA out

The mayor of Los Angeles said the city's Occupy movement must leave its encampment by Monday, days after protesters rejected an offer of indoor demonstration space.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- who has been supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement -- lauded demonstrators for "awakening the country's conscience," but said that after 56 days, the encampments that flank the two grassy areas adjacent to City Hall must be removed by 12:01 a.m. Monday for public health and safety reasons.

At an afternoon news conference Friday with Police Chief Charlie Beck, Villaraigosa said the Occupy movement has "given voice to those who have not been heard" -- but also trampled grass at City Hall that must be restored.

"The movement is at a crossroads," the mayor said. "It is time for Occupy LA 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 camp of about 485 tents was unsustainable because public health and safety could not be maintained, and the park had to be cleared, cleaned and restored for the public's access, he said.

Occupy LA has not yet officially responded to the mayor's order, though a day earlier had released a statement vowing to stay in the park, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Protester Opamago Casciani, 20, said he found the mayor's priorities insulting, and intends to continue demonstrating through the deadline.

In response to the mayor's comments, Casciani said "What I got from it is 'I value grass more than the people.'"

Still, don't expect a dramatic eviction: Beck said police won't be hauling protesters away when the midnight deadline passes.

Instead, he said police will be patient with laggards working to leave at the time of the deadline - though the city's law enforcement will no longer look the other way.

"After 56 days of not enforcing three city laws that prohibit the use of that park, the time is now," said Beck.

Occupy LA released a list of demands for the city Thursday, among them for Los Angeles to divest all money from major banks, for "money to be removed from politics" and to rename the lawn surrounding City Hall "Solidarity Park."

Occupy LA made headlines for rampant anti-Semitism and after a substitute teacher participating in the movement said "Zionist Jews" needed to be "run out of this country."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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