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Some arrests as L.A. police break up protest

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A unidentified man is arrested by Los Angeles police on Fourth Street and Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles late Thursday, July 12, 2012. An officer was injured as police in riot gear broke up a crowd of about 200 protesters who filled Los Angeles streets during downtown's monthly Art Walk. LAPD spokeswoman Karen Rayner says there have been several arrests, and at least one officer injured, but had no further details. (AP Photo/Grant Hindsley)
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LOS ANGELES >> A free-speech protest turned into a bottle-throwing clash with police that injured four officers and ended with 20 arrests, authorities said Friday.

The confrontation occurred Thursday night during Art Walk, a monthly event that encourages people to visit galleries, bars and restaurants in a revitalized downtown area.

Protesters said they were demonstrating against the recent arrests of some people for chalking on sidewalks.

"We were handing out free chalk for freedom of speech," Cheryl Aichele, 34, of the group Occupy L.A. told the Los Angeles Times.

The demonstrators were ordered to disperse shortly before 10 p.m. after they began writing on the sidewalks and buildings with chalk, Officer Norma Eisenman said.

Some messages chalked at the intersection of Spring and 5th streets included "May the youth rise" and "End the Fed," the Times reported.

Instead of dispersing, police said some protesters began hurling cans and glass bottles. Three officers were treated for minor injuries but a policewoman received a mild concussion when she was struck in the helmet, Eisenman said.

Several protesters reportedly were hurt as police struck with beanbag ammunition and batons. Eisenman, however, said she had no information about protester injuries.

Police arrested 20 people, 10 on suspicion of vandalism and the rest for crimes ranging from blocking a roadway to assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, Eisenman said.

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