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Scores of Occupy L.A. protesters are released from jail

Three days after Los Angeles police evicted Occupy L.A. protesters from City Hall Park, most of the nearly 200 who remained in jail were released Friday because they had otherwise clean criminal records.

In all, nearly 300 were arrested early Wednesday when 1,400 officers broke up the 7-week-old encampment surrounding City Hall. They initially faced a minimum bail of $5,000, and about 40 had been bailed out Thursday.

Scores of arrestees trickled out of Central Arraignment Court, across from the downtown Men’s Central Jail, Friday afternoon after being processed and released.

List of arrestees

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They included Ruth Sarnoff, who at 79 was the oldest person arrested during the early morning operation — heralded as a swift and restrained eviction by what was historically a heavy-handed Los Angeles Police Department.

Beloved by other “Occupiers,” Sarnoff huddled on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse cheering as fellow protesters emerged.

Sarnoff, a lifelong activist with five children, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild, said that despite the arrests, the movement’s resolve stays strong.

“This is like one of those animals with tentacles — you cut off one tentacle and four more grow,” she said. “I don’t see this movement going anywhere.”

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As the group grew bigger outside the courthouse, a small number of LAPD officers monitored the crowd, which was chanting: “All night, all day, Occupy L.A.!”

Those released were sharing their jail experiences, eating pizza slices on the sidewalk and figuring out the group’s next move.

U.E. Daniels, 21, of Los Angeles said that as soon as everyone is released, protesters plan to regroup. “It’s not over,” Daniels said. “This is only the beginning.”

One speaker suggested that some of those arrested might need therapy. Several said they felt traumatized after witnessing police use nonlethal force and being forced to wait for hours in zip tie handcuffs. Some showed off cuts on their wrists from the handcuffs. Others complained that they were forced to urinate in bags on the bus as they were transported to jails.

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One speaker urged others to document any complaints. “Make note of every single violation of human rights,” she told those assembled.

The protesters said they might hold their general assembly on the steps of City Hall on Friday.

As the several hundred arrest cases made their way through the court system, it was still unclear how many protesters would ultimately face prosecution.

The city had filed 46 criminal cases as of Friday, said Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter. Some arrestees face potential charges of failure to disperse and, in a few cases, resisting arrest.

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On Friday, at least a dozen arrested were expected to be arraigned. Those who appeared before a judge Thursday and Friday had outstanding warrants for their arrest on other charges, possessed a criminal record or had resisted arrest Wednesday when police cleared the park.

Carter said the city has up to a year to charge those released. Some might avoid prosecution if they successfully complete a court program that requires them to perform community service or class instruction, he added.

ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com


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