Twelve people were arrested and several others hurt last night after a clash involving the LAPD, Occupy protesters, and art fans writing chalk messages on sidewalks. Details on how the Los Angeles ArtWalk showcase morphed into a mini-riot are still unclear, but the incident appears to have begun as a protest involving members of the Occupy LA movement. According to reports, members of the group had organized to come down to the regularly scheduled ArtWalk event in Downtown L.A. to hand out chalk as a show of support for 11 people who had been arrested over the previous month for writing on the sidewalk.
As the crowds gathered, officers in riot gear sealed off streets and ordered them to disperse. They were met with chants and perhaps a few thrown bottles and that's when things turned messy. Police reportedly fired bean bag guns or rubber bullets at the crowd and made several arrests for vandalism — a crime that apparently includes writing on the sidewalk with chalk. This photo posted on Twitter shows a man who appears to have been shot by one of the non-lethal police weapons.
One witness said that "gang members" who were not with the Occupy protesters may have gotten involved by taunting the police. There were some minor injuries to both police and protesters, but otherwise no major damage. Reports of violence had been rare in this particular branch of the Occupy movement, but this new incident does mark a minor resurgence for a group that has been quiet (or simply ignored) over the last several months. Is it too late for summer comeback for Occupiers?