California Occupy Wall Street protesters are resisting dispersal orders, adding more costs to an already $13 million tab run up by the two-month-old movement.
Even after Los Angeles police deferred a midnight eviction order to 4:30 a.m. Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that protesters refused to leave their city encampment. Rather, occupiers told the news agency they planned to resist to the point of forcible removal. A stubborn few who had lain down in the street refused to leave.
The Occupy Los Angeles protest is an offshoot from New York’s Occupy Wall Street. Protesters aligned with the movement have occupied spaces around the country surrounding businesses to protest the 1 percent of wealthy Americans who are reportedly infringing on the financial opportunities of the remaining 99 percent.
Occupier Will Picard told The Associated Press Sunday evening, “Their plan is to resist the closure of this encampment and if that means getting arrested so be it.”
He added, “I think they just want to make the police tear it down rather than tear it down themselves.”
Police seeking to clear the streets surrounding City Hall Park in time for rush hour traffic have, according to the LA Times, lined the area in order to peacefully force protesters back.
Peter Sanders, press secretary to the LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, told The Christian Post that the protest has cost the city over $100,000 in police services. Neighboring cities Oakland and San Diego have both spent over $2 million in police services overtime.
The continued police presence at OWS encampments has cost U.S. cities millions of dollars, according to a recent AP survey.
The news agency said that figures collected from 18 cities with Occupy protests revealed that costs for “police overtime and municipal services” accumulated from the start of the protests through Nov. 15 total $13 million.
New York City has spent over $7 million in Occupy-related protest patrol costs. Fox news reported that the city spent $3.4 million in OWS-related police overtime alone.
The New York City OWS costs are a drop in the bucket when compared to the city police department’s $4.5 billion budget.
However, OWS costs have been taxing for smaller municipalities struggling to close holes in their budgets.
The City of Oakland has been struggling to close its $58 million budget deficit with negotiated furlough days and pension cuts. Yet the city has spent $2.4 million on protest relates costs.
City Mayor Jean Quan told AP, “The cost of the encampments is growing and putting a strain on our already fragile resources – police, public works, and other city staff.”
Los Angeles has also pursued tough cost-cutting efforts to reduce a $457 million deficit in its budget. Mayor Villaraigosa made efforts in September to freeze payments to law enforcement and firefighters’ retirement health benefits in order to save the city $44 million.
The city has since been forced to provide overtime police presence to the nearly 4,000 protesters who gathered at City Hall Park around 12 a.m. this morning. The park has also suffered about $200,000 worth of property damage, the AP reports.
Press Secretary Sanders has declined to share with The Christian Post how Occupy Los Angeles-related costs affect the city budget but said the city has yet to determine how the mounting cost will be recouped.
Police have made four arrests thus far but LAPD Spokesperson Mitzi Fierro told CP that the goal is to keep things as peaceful as possible.
“We’re giving them enough time to get out and at some point, we’re going to have to clear the park completely,” she said.
Right now Fierro said police officials are posting signs informing protesters of park hours. Social Services officials are also ensuring the protesters have somewhere to go.