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Occupy L.A. seeks return of murals painted at City Hall camp

The city is looking for institutions that would store and display the works salvaged after protesters were ousted. But Occupy L.A. says the murals 'were made for the people and they belong to the people.'

February 06, 2012|By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

Occupy L.A. protesters want their murals back.

During their eight-week encampment on Los Angeles City Hall's lawn, protesters painted colorful pictures and slogans on plywood walls that city workers installed to protect two monuments near Spring and 1st streets.

After police cleared the park in the early morning of Nov. 30, arresting about 300 people, the walls were taken down. In January, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs issued an open call "to public and private entities, including but not limited to museums, galleries, arts organizations or educational institutions" wishing to store and exhibit the murals.

"These wooden enclosures (Occupy L.A. artifacts) are now perhaps cultural artifacts and works of art, evoking the spirit of an event of national/international importance and attention," according to a letter from the department. "The city of Los Angeles wishes to see that the Occupy L.A. artifacts are publicly displayed in the near future and protected for future audiences."

Occupy L.A. posted a response on its website last week, saying the murals symbolize much of the movement and should "neither be owned, nor released to institutions."

"We respectfully deny your call for conditional possession of the OLA murals. We believe your appraisal of the OLA murals misunderstands their true purpose and value," the protesters wrote. "The OLA murals were made for the people and they belong to the people."

The group invited the agency to turn over the murals so it — not city officials — can decide who should preserve them.

It was unclear Friday how the city will respond. In the meantime, public or private groups interested in the murals have until 5 p.m. Monday to submit their applications to the Cultural Affairs Department.

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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