Los Angeles police declared an unlawful assembly and made about a dozen arrests Thursday evening as protesters demonstrated against the removal of a massive homeless encampment in Echo Park, according to reports.
“The LAPD has declared an unlawful assembly in the area of Lemoyne and Park Avenue due to a large crowd who is utilizing high-intensity lights in an attempt to blind officers and prevent them from performing their duties and/or defend themselves if needed,” the Los Angeles Police Department wrote on Twitter just after 8 p.m. PT.
Homeless residents of Echo Park confront Los Angeles Police officers moving in to remove residents in the Echo Park Lake homeless encampment in Los Angeles late Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (Associated Press)
A police statement said a designated protest zone would be set up in the area.
The LAPD said in a statement early Friday morning that several credentialed and non-credentialed members of the media were detained along with protesters but were released with the help of the department’s Media Relations Division and weren’t arrested after reports of reporters from the Los Angeles Times and Knock LA being detained circulated.
“The department requests that media personnel follow the lawful orders of officers at the scene,” the statement said.
Authorities started loading arrestees onto buses soon after declaring the unlawful assembly, FOX 11 Los Angeles reported.
Police faced off against the homeless advocates for the second straight night Thursday after two unlawful assemblies were declared Wednesday night.
On Wednesday, the demonstrators — a mix of homeless people and activists — threw bottles and objects at officers, who attempted to push them back from the park, according to reports. Many refused to move and some chanted: “Whose park? Our park!”
A statement from police said the majority of protesters Wednesday were peaceful and only one arrest was made. No tear gas was used, police said, according to KCAL-TV Los Angeles.
L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a statement Thursday morning, “The Echo Park facility has devolved into a very dangerous place for everyone there: drug overdoses, sexual and physical assaults, self-styled leaders taxing homeless individuals and vendors, animal abuse, families without shelter in the colder weather, and last fall shootings where one homeless individual was shot in the leg by gang members while children stood nearby. There have been four deaths in the park over the last year.”
There was a 10:30 p.m. deadline for homeless residents to leave the area and police said all of them have been offered housing and services, according to a FOX 11 reporter Bill Melugin.
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.