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City Bans Tents in Parks in Not-So-Subtle Attempt to Curb Occupy L.A. Encampments

Photo by STERLINGDAVISPHOTO via the LAist Featured Photos pool
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In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban tents from city parks, as a not-so-subtle means to prevent groups like Occupy L.A. from setting up camps.

The vote approved clarified wording of a city ordinance that now defines camping to mean: "to erect, maintain or occupy a camp facility for any purpose, including lodging or living accommodation," according to City News Service. Further, a tent under the language of L.A. law is a shelter that is partially closed and "`lacks an unobstructed view into the tent, shelter or structure from the outside.''

Members of the Occupy L.A. movement were on hand at the meeting today to protest the decision on the ordinance, but also pointed to the potential negative impact the ban on tents may have on the homeless population.

"The people that truly don't have homes, that's what this is really directed about,'' said Occupy L.A. activist Ryan Rice.

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On the OLA Facebook page, the reaction was a bit more pointed:

"Our Constitutional Right of FREE SPEECH & FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY trump your silly little city ordinance every day of the week and twice on Sundays! 1! We are the people 2! We are united 3! The Occupation IS NOT LEAVING!!! "

The occupation, however, was forced to leave in late November, when the city and the Los Angeles Police Department conducted a raid on the encampment--the same encampment members of the City Council had toured, voted to acknowledge, and allow on the City Hall lawn indefinitely. The hypocrisy of the raid after the city's pledged support was not missed by Occupiers, who cited the city's declaration of acceptance in the face of their eviction.

Ultimately, though, the city felt the occupiers had worn out their welcome, as well as the precious lawn itself, for which they've shelled out big bucks to replace and refurbish, opting to spend money from the city's empty coffers to make things all pretty and tidy again.

Councilman Richard Alarcon said today's approval of the revised parks and tents ordinance has nothing to do with Occupy L.A.:

"We could do exactly what we did before with regards to Occupy L.A. as this ordinance is written if we so choose to do so. If we thought it was in the interest of public safety to allow people to stay on the park, we could do that. That's what we did with Occupy L.A. We could do that again.''

The City Hall grounds--considered a city park--are expected to re-open very soon.