Last night, the city of Los Angeles reversed its long-standing policy of mutual cooperation with Occupy Los Angeles and raided the encampment on the steps of city hall, evicting protesters. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided on the eviction when he learned that children were sometimes present at the camp:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided it was time to evict Occupy L.A. protesters from the City Hall lawn after learning that there were children staying there. Given the smattering of assaults and other incidents reported at the camp, “the chaos out there could produce something awful,” he said in an interview with The Times.
Certainly, looking out for the welfare of children is an appropriate concern for the city. But it’s unclear how clearing the occupation encampment rather than working with protesters would result in a better situation for the kids present. After all, the city had been working with protesters to maintain the encampment for months, and had secured almost full cooperation with all regulations and demands.
An even more pertinent point is that Los Angeles already has thousands of children on the streets. A 2011 report estimated that there were 13,500 homeless students in the area. One would hope that if the city of Los Angeles was willing to send thousands of riot gear-clad police officers to evict an encampment of nonviolent protesters supposedly out of concern for children, that it will be making an even more intense effort over the coming days to alleviate the situation of the thousands of homeless children in the city. Perhaps the city could even team up with a broad-based social movement protesting economic injustice to do it.