Taxpayers’ bill for Occupy L.A. protest rises to $4.7 million
A new report says Occupy Los Angeles cost taxpayers at least $4.7 million, two-thirds of which was spent policing the protest.
The report by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says the Los Angeles Police Department spent $1.3 million monitoring protesters during the course of their two-month demonstration outside City Hall, and $1.3 million evicting them. An additional half a million dollars was spent by city security officers, according to the report.
The tally of city costs is $2 million higher than an estimate reported in February. Officials say the higher figure reflects newly reported costs to police the protest and the tab to restore the City Hall Park and several monuments damaged by protesters. The city has received more than $400,000 in donations and rebates to restore the park, Santana said.
His report comes as the City Council deliberates Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed budget, which calls for hundreds of layoffs and job eliminations to help close a $220-million budget deficit. City Councilman Mitchell Englander said the costs of the protest to the city should make city officials hesistate before they endorse similar movements in the future.
When the occupiers first launched their demonstration last September as part of a nationwide protest against economic inequality, they were welcomed by city lawmakers. The City Council passed a resolution in support of the “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by Occupy Los Angeles.” And then-Council President Eric Garcetti told protesters, “Stay as long as you need, we’re here to support you.”
At the same time, police monitored the demonstration closely, setting up a command post inside City Hall and, in the final days of the demonstration, sending in undercover officers. After Villaraigosa ordered the park closed to allow repairs to the trampled lawn in late November, some 1,400 police officers swarmed downtown to clear protesters from the park in a dramatic show of force that led to hundreds of arrests.