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Early Morning Sweep Ousts Transients Near Cathedral : City Ready to Welcome the Pope

September 14, 1987

Authorities today closed several downtown streets and rousted about two dozen transients from around St. Vibiana's Cathedral in a pre-dawn sweep on the edge of Skid Row where Pope John Paul II will stay during his Los Angeles visit.

The street closures, which will be in effect through Thursday morning, when the Pope departs, include Main and Los Angeles streets between 1st and 3rd streets and 2nd Street between Spring and San Pedro streets.

St. Vibiana's, whose rectory will serve as living quarters for the pontiff Tuesday and Wednesday, sits on the edge of Skid Row and next door to the Union Rescue Mission, which normally serves 2,000 free meals a night.

Church officials have said the security precautions around St. Vibiana's Cathedral are at the insistence of the Secret Service and police.

Activist Arrested

During the transient sweep, police and Secret Service agents arrested Ted Hayes, an activist for the homeless who was in the sixth day of a hunger strike on the cathedral steps to protest plans to clear the area of homeless.

Hayes was arrested by the Secret Service for investigation of willfully obstructing, resisting or interfering with a federal authority while performing a protective function, said Jane Vezeris, Secret Service spokeswoman in Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, Hayes, who has a wife and children and is homeless by choice, said he hoped his hunger strike could somehow convince the Pope to pressure civil authorities into loosening security at the cathedral.

"We know that it is not the Pope's position to move us, but to allow the removal of homeless people, he's sending a message around the world," he said.

Traffic Preparations

Also today, officials made final preparations for an anticipated crush of traffic and people on Tuesday morning as the Pope travels by motorcade through downtown Los Angeles en route to the cathedral.

With several streets and freeway off-ramps closed for the event, officials have asked downtown businesses to give employees the day off or stagger work schedules to ease the number of cars and people.

Over the weekend and today, city crews lined seven miles of downtown streets with blue barrels and began stringing ropes between them to serve as barricades for the Pope's motorcade.

Skies over Southern California were expected to be clear and sunny on Tuesday, with temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s forecast for most of the area, with lows in the 50s and low 60s.

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