Over 100 people activists were resisting the efforts to clear and secure Echo Park Thursday night. Police declared an unlawful assembly after activists in the crowd attempted to blind police officers with high-intensity lights. Wednesday night, activists came prepared to battle police with rocks, bottles and smoke bombs.
For the second night in a row, activists claimed they were there to protest the removal of homeless encampments but seemed more intent on antagonizing and protesting the police. Antifa social media accounts called for action.
By 5:40 PM, a large crowd assembled at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Lemoyne Street. The crowd was so immense that police called in reinforcements.
The Los Angeles Police Department had announced that anyone remaining in the park by 8:30 PM would be placed under arrest. The Los Angeles Times estimated that by 8:53 PM more than a dozen people had been arrested or detained.
Several reporters were taken into police custody including one reporter from the Times. Two 'reporters' from Knock LA, a hard left outlet, were also detained. Often in the Pacific Northwest, activist pose as media to 'document' riots and occasionally staged incidents to make it appear as if media is being harassed by police. As of publishing, it was not immediately clear why any of the reporters were detained.
Protests began Wednesday evening when activists rallied to attempt and prevent LAPD from clearing a massive homeless encampment from the park and close the area to perform more than $500,000 in repairs. The planned work will include repairing damaged lighting and plumbing, removal of hazardous waste from the encampment and public safety improvements.
Campers were offered hotel rooms or housing and given vouchers for housing before the clearing began, yet activists persisted with the protests and some laid down on the ground in front of the police.
L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell confirmed in a statement Thursday morning following the riot the night before that Echo Park Lake had been closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. "The Echo Park facility has devolved into a very dangerous place for everyone there: drug overdoses, sexual and physical assaults, self-styled leaders taxing homeless individuals and vendors, animal abuse, families without shelter in the colder weather, and last fall shootings where one homeless individual was shot in the leg by gang members while children stood nearby. There have been four deaths in the park over the last year."
A date has not been provided when the park will be reopened to the public. City contractors began installing fencing on Wednesday to close the park.