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Occupy groups seek restraining orders

  |   Nov. 28, 2011 at 7:44 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Hundreds of students and faculty members temporarily shut down a University of California regents meeting Monday in an Occupy protest of tuition hikes.

The activists occupied a Board of Regents meeting held by speakerphone at campuses in San Francisco, Davis, Merced and Los Angeles, angry about frequent tuition and fee hikes and state funding cuts to higher education. Others, especially at UC Davis, said regents need to exercise more control over police who handle demonstrations on campus.

UC Davis police discharged pepper spray on a row of seated protesters Nov. 18.

In Monday's occupation, the activists stood in the conference rooms in the four campuses and chanted slogans so loudly the regents could no longer conduct business, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"We're not going away," and "We are the majority," the protesters chanted at each location.

After several minutes, most regents got up and left the room, the Chronicle said.

The activists then held what they called a "People's Regents" meeting, complete with 2-minute speaker limits and planned votes on actions such as a proposed call for some regents and UC officials to resign.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent, remained at the San Francisco meeting and joined the protesters.

Members of the Occupy movement went to court in several U.S. cities to prevent police from tearing down encampments. Protesters sought a federal injunction to prevent Los Angeles police from dismantling the Occupy LA encampment around City Hall.

The complaint, which alleges the protesters' civil rights were violated, seeks a court order barring the city from evicting campers from the City Hall Park, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The complaint accused the city of engaging in "arbitrary and capricious action in violation of the First and 14th amendments by first approving the Occupy presence for 56 days before suddenly revoking permission through the unilateral action of defendants."

Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter said the city attorney's office was reviewing the document and was prepared to respond or appear in court if needed.

The protesters' complaint points out the City Council passed a resolution of support for the protesters and states an aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told two of the plaintiffs, protester Mario Brito and Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild, the city code section prohibiting overnight camping in city parks would not be enforced.

The complaint said Los Angeles officials made other exceptions to the anti-camping provision, including one for people waiting at Exposition Park to be eligible for free medical services and one for an estimated 500 fans of the "Twilight" movie who "camped out on the sidewalks of Westwood Village for several days to be first in line for the midnight showing of the first 'Twilight' sequel."

In Augusta, Maine, two people arrested during the weekend sued the commissioner of public safety in U.S. District Court Monday, the Bangor Daily News reported. The lawsuit alleges requiring protesters to get a permit to continue their vigil in Capitol Park violated their First Amendment rights.

Russell Gauvin, chief of the Capitol Police, told protesters Friday they couldn't camp overnight in the park across from the Capitol, would have to remove all but one tent and must get a permit to continue activities there, the complaint said.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a lawsuit filed by protesters last week will be heard in U.S. District Court, The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette reported Monday. Occupy Cedar Rapids asked a judge for an injunction to prevent the city from removing tents and other property from an occupied city-owned lot. The city said First Amendment issues raised by the group should be resolved in federal court.

Earlier Monday, Los Angeles police arrested several protesters outside City Hall but protests at an intersection were mostly peaceful, witnesses said. While most people complied with a police order to disperse, a few demonstrators refused to leave, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In Philadelphia, a 5 p.m. eviction deadline set by the city for Occupy protesters Sunday passed peacefully and with no arrests Sunday.

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