LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appeared on CNN's John King USA to weigh in on the overnight evictions of the Occupy Protesters in their respective cities.
As Diane already noted Mayor Villaraigosa again claimed the "real reason for the raid was concern for the children sleeping at the camp when as she noted:
Meanwhile, only a few blocks away, hundreds of children are forced to bed down every night in the largest skid row in America, a place literally crawling with drug dealers, violent criminals and pedophiles
Mayor Michael Nutter cited concerns for a nearby construction project and said the protesters had ample notice that they were going to be evicted and said the city gave the protesters another permit for another location to camp across the street from City Hall instead. Both men cited concerns over health and safety of the protesters, which seems to be a running theme now to justify busting up their camps.
Full transcript below the fold.
KING: In a night of anger and arrests Los Angeles and Philadelphia became the latest cities to clear out campgrounds of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In both cities, the evictions were peaceful, mostly.
TV helicopters were overheard -- overhead as Philadelphia police moved in at about 1 a.m. Some scuffling, 52 arrests, one protester and three officers were hurt.
In Los Angeles, the arrests totals and the pictures are more dramatic. Officers in L.A. report hearing lots of profanity in their predawn raid but no violence. About 200 people arrested in L.A.
With us now, the mayors of both cities, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
Mayor Villaraigosa, I want to begin with you. You praised the police officers in your raid. Some of the protesters praised them, as well. But I want you to respond to this blog posting from Ruth Fowler, an Occupy protester. This is from OccupyLosAngeles.org.
"None of the protesters I was with had been violent. None had destroyed property. None were even tormenting the police. The violence I witnessed was pretty intense. Those cops were pissed" -- excuse my language -- "and wanted to hurt people. They were running and beating people who were simply running away, trying to escape."
Did that happen?
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: It didn't happen. She was watching some other image and some other city, and in the city of Los Angeles there were no injuries, to my knowledge, and certainly no serious injuries. There was no violence.
She's right that the protesters did an incredible job of being peaceful, as they have really throughout the 68 days.
But let me be absolutely clear: I couldn't have been prouder of the Los Angeles Police Department last night. It was their finest moment. There have been ups and downs in our department, as you well know. But yesterday was a sight to be seen. It was a magnificent display of constitutional policing.
We believe that you can exercise your First Amendment in the city of Los Angeles. We believe that you can speak out against the government, and that our police, working with our community, can also respect those First Amendment rights, and we did, last night and throughout the 68 days of Occupy L.A.
KING: Mayor Nutter, why now? Why are both of these big major cities deciding you've run out of patience? Is it a strain on your resources? Have the protesters become a nuisance? Why now?
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: Well, for us, John, it was, quite frankly, related directly to a new construction project that we told -- I told personally Occupy Philadelphia about when they met with me back on October 5.
So, I think the first thing here is both Mayor Villaraigosa and I want to dispel any notion that there is any connection between what happened in Los Angeles in terms of their action, versus what happened in Philadelphia and our action. It may have literally been around and about the same day, same time. But ours is related to a construction project. Certainly, I voiced concerns about public health and public safety issues.
But we gave notice to Occupy Philadelphia nearly ten days ago that their permit was expiring. We gave them another permit for the area literally across the street from City Hall.
KING: And the question, gentlemen, to Los Angeles, first, is "whither Occupy?" Where is this movement heading? You've both voiced support for their goals.
Mayor Nutter, you just mentioned some of them, economic justice. You went to visit them, Mayor Nutter, back in October.
Mayor Villaraigosa, to you first. Is this a protest movement? Is it a political movement? Is it a nuisance movement? Where do you see it going?
VILLARAIGOSA: I think it has very real prospects of becoming a serious movement here in the country. The issues that they've raised of economic justice, the issues of concentration of wealth, the disparity between wealth and poverty, the growing evisceration of the middle class, the jobs deficit. It can be a movement if they understand that people in this country want to see a nonviolent movement.
I come out of the civil rights movement. I can tell you the power of nonviolence is a power that, when unleashed, can produce tremendous results and change. If it degenerates, as it did in some cities, then I'd say that it won't have that lasting power.
KING: And Mayor Nutter, that is the question. Who are they? And what impact might they have in the sense that we saw Tea Party protests before an elections. And we know what happened: the Tea Party sent a message to some Republican incumbents and then sent a message to the country and helped Republicans get back the House.
Do you see something like that here? A lot of people, a lot of critics say these are some fringe kids on the left, and if they do anything, they'll hurt President Obama by not voting.
NUTTER: We are looking to partner with the members of Occupy Philadelphia, reasonable solutions on any number of issues that may be national in scope but have a local impact. And we're looking to work with them on how we improve Philadelphia. I can't do a whole lot about the entire nation, but I am going to try my best, and I know Mayor Villaraigosa, as well, in Los Angeles, to try and improve our own environment here. That takes partnership. That takes focus. That takes people being willing to get together and work.
You can express, certainly, your First Amendment rights. I don't necessarily know that it has to involve sleeping and tenting, et cetera, et cetera. As they say, it's free speech, not free sleeping.
KING: Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. Gentlemen, appreciate your time tonight, thank you.
VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you, John.
NUTTER: Thank you.