Woman arrested for writing with chalk on street spurs violence
Police cordoned off the 5th and Spring streets after Art Walk became unruly Thursday night.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — About 20 people were arrested and over 100 LAPD officers ended up lining the streets of Spring Street between 4th and 6th after rocks and bottles were reportedly thrown at police during an OccupyLA event called Chalk Walk during ArtWalk Thursday night.
Three officers were injured, LAPD Sgt. Ana Aguirre confirmed to Blogdowntown.
In a scene the LA Times called a melee, Occupy members began writing in chalk on Spring around 7:30pm. Not soon afterwards tensions rose resulting in one woman being arrested for what Occupy calls "chalking" and what the LAPD calls vandalism.
"One [of the arrested] was in fact a vandalism [charge] that involved some chalk," Aguirre said, adding that "power washing" will be required to remove the chalk.
Messages including "Kill Cops" were written on the sidewalk and streets, the paper reports.
Nancy Casanova, a journalist from L.A., was at ArtWalk with her 13-year-old brother when she saw a crowd growing around a line of police officers, she told Blogdowntown. Soon mayhem broke out.
"There was a girl who was drawing between the officers," Casanova explained. "This officer saw her and grabbed her arm. Her boyfriend stepped in. The crowd chanted to the police to pressure them not to arrest her but it didnt work. The officer shoved her boyfriend out of the way. The girl tried to resist arrest. They put her on the ground and I took that picture. Then they took her into custody and that's when I saw bottles flying."
Aguirre said those arrested were being held on charges from vandalism to battery on police officer to failure to disperse.
Officer Karen Rayner of the LAPD told KCAL during their live tv coverage that a group decided to take over the intersection of 5th and Spring around 8:30pm. After officers arrived to disperse the group "it became very rowdy and disruptive, so we did call for reinforcements."
Casanova said she witnessed several brawls, one was caused by young men who appeared to be gang members who were taunting the police. "These were not Occupiers," she pointed out.
"This is a night that's usually for the ArtWalk folks and it's usually a peaceful event. For some reason this group decided to cause a disturbance," Rayner said, who added that an ambulance was called for someone who was hit by a skateboard. .
A Facebook event called "Chalk Walk + Get Out of Jail" invited people Downtown to protest. "11 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN THE LAST MONTH FOR WRITING WITH CHALK ON A SIDEWALK," the Facebook page read. "THIS IS NOT A CRIME. THIS IS HARASSMENT AND AN ATTEMPT TO STIFLE DISSENT. WE WILL CHALK IT OUT ALL OVER ARTWALK LETTING PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE DANGERS OF CHALKING."
Needless to say, Twitter was abuzz with reports from the scene.