LOS ANGELES - Over 100 people were arrested, including members of the media, after they ordered a large crowd in Echo Park to disperse Thursday night.
According to FOX 11's Bill Melugin, some of the detainees were loaded onto buses. The Los Angeles Police Department drove by on a loudspeaker and told those refusing to leave the homeless encampment to come to the front gate at 10:30 p.m. and that services will be given to them by homeless advocacy groups.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, 182 people were arrested. Three people identified themselves as members of the media and additional individuals identified themselves as members of the National Lawyers Guild. The department says all were released at the scene without further action.
Thursday's arrests mark Day 2 of the ongoing protest involving advocates of the homeless and those refusing to leave the homeless encampment near Echo Park Lake for city cleaning. Earlier in the evening, LAPD declared the area of Lemoyne Street and Park Avenue an unlawful assembly. The decision came as the crowd allegedly pointed "high-intensity strobe lights" at the officers’ eyes causing temporary blindness.
During the protest, the department says two officers sustained minor injuries and received medical treatment and were soon released.
The location of the unlawful assembly was right in front of Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell's office.
The protests are in response to the city’s effort to move the homeless out of the park to make way for a $500,000 renovation effort.
City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell says homeless park residents have been offered vouchers, hotel rooms and housing.
"Almost 200 of the park's unhoused population has accepted and been placed in shelter options through Project Roomkey, Project Homekey, A Bridge Home and winter shelter. I'm happy to report that we have shelter available for anyone who is seeking to be housed tonight. The (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) is ready to engage them in the process to move them into transitional housing with supportive services and medical care if needed. Those who decline this offer for housing will be unable to stay after the park closure is in effect.''
But advocates for the homeless blasted the city's effort to remove the encampment, saying it had grown into a safe haven for people with no other
Since unveiling the city's plan to shut down Echo Park Lake, O'Farrell has become the unofficial face of the city's push to shut down the encampment.
During the course of the protests, damage was caused to a marked LAPD vehicle and O'Farrell's office on Sunset Boulevard was vandalized, according to police.
Protests from both Wednesday and Thursday nights have led to tense moments between the protesters and law enforcement.
ECHO PARK PROTEST:
- Day 1 of Echo Park protest: Hundreds gather to reject planned clearing of homeless encampment
- Echo Park residents share their thoughts on the homeless population in the area
- Los Angeles to close Echo Park Lake, clear park's homeless residents
The standoff prompted LAPD to issue a citywide tactical alert on Wednesday night. Police were also stationed overnight.
LA Times reporter Jame Queally identified himself as one of the people detained during Thursday's protest. Kate Cagle, a reporter and anchor for Spectrum News 1, was also detained by officers after she identified herself as a reporter and showed officers her L.A. County press pass, she said. Two reporters for Knock L.A., Jonathan Peltz and Kate Gallagher, were also arrested during the protest sometime before 9:45 p.m.
Queally thanked his friends, as well as fellow journalists and sources for helping him get released from the brief custody. While he gave props to some of the officers on scene for checking his press credentials and calling a supervisor, Queally was critical of the way LAPD handled the situation.
Queally said LAPD's "long history" of mishandling protests and crowd-control situations "desperately needs fixing." He also claims reporters from other outlets were being detained by law enforcement during the protest.
O'Farrell called for "calm and cooperation" on Day 2 of the protest. O'Farrell said in a statement that the city made "significant progress" Thursday in housing those experiencing homelessness at the park that's set for repairs.
Below is a statement released by O'Farrell:
"I urge calm and cooperation tonight at Echo Park as we continue our work to move the final few people experiencing homelessness from the park into transitional housing before the parkspace closes temporarily for repairs.
We made significant progress today toward our goal of housing everyone at the park and moved an additional 32 unhoused individuals into transitional housing. Almost 200 of the park’s unhoused population has accepted and been placed in shelter options through Project Roomkey, Project Homekey, A Bridge Home and winter shelter.
I’m happy to report that we have shelter available for anyone who is seeking to be housed tonight. LAHSA is ready to engage them in the process to move them into transitional housing with supportive services and medical care if needed. Those who decline this offer for housing will be unable to stay after the park closure is in effect."
Fellow councilman Mike Bonin called Thursday's tense standoff "a shameful day for Los Angeles." The District 11 representative appeared disgusted on social media, saying the incidents that took place during the protests could have been prevented.