A new report finds Occupy Los Angeles cost city taxpayers nearly $5 million, with the bulk of the money spent on policing the protest.
The report presented Friday 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 another $1.3 million evicting them. An additional $500,000 was spent by the Office of Public Safety, whose security officers protect city property, according to the report.
The tally of city costs is $2 million higher than an estimate given in February. Officials say the new figure reflects recently reported police costs and the tab to rehabilitate City Hall Park and several monuments damaged by protesters. The city has received more than $400,000 in donations and rebates for the restoration project, Santana said.
The costs of the protests in Los Angeles were much lower than in New York City, which shelled out an estimated $17 million on police overtime during the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Zuccotti Park. But City Councilman Mitchell Englander said the report should make officials think twice before they endorse similar movements in the future, especially given the city’s $238-million budget deficit.
Protesters were welcomed warmly by city lawmakers when they launched their demonstration last September as part of a nationwide protest against economic inequality.
The council passed a resolution in support of the group’s “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights” 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 protest, sending in undercover officers. After Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered the park closed in late November so crews could restore the trampled lawn, some 1,400 police officers swarmed downtown to clear protesters from the park in a dramatic show of force that resulted in hundreds of arrests.