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Philly protest deadline passes quietly

PHILADELPHIA -- A deadline set by the city for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the plaza it has occupied for some two months came and went without scuffles or arrests as police watched nearly 50 demonstrators lock arms and sit at the entrance of Dilworth Plaza.

The scene was far different from other, previous encampments in cities elsewhere, where pepper spray, tear gas and police action resulted in the decamping of long-situated demonstrators. Occupy Philadelphia has managed to avoid the mass arrests and conflict that have arisen at other sites nationwide.

Last night, there was hope that Philadelphia would continue to be largely violence-free.

"Right now, we have a peaceful demonstration," said Police Chief Insp. Joe Sullivan, nearly 45 minutes after the 5 p.m. deadline had passed.

Along the steps leading into Dilworth Plaza, nearly 50 people sat in lines, their arms linked, refusing to leave. A police presence was unchanged and no orders to leave had been issued.

"We can definitely claim a victory," said Mike Yaroschuk, who was in the process of dismantling his tent. "We've opened a lot of minds, hearts and eyes." Yaroschuk said he was leaving the plaza not because of the city-issued deadline but because of a request by unions, whose workers will be involved in the long-planned construction project there in the coming weeks. He said it made more sense to pick and choose when it comes to Occupy and its efforts to draw attention to the 99 percent.

"This place is not a key battle for me . . . This is a marathon, not a sprint," he said.

In Los Angeles, another deadline was getting closer for hundreds of demonstrators to abandon their weeks-old Occupy Los Angeles protest.

Although city officials have told protesters they must leave and take their nearly 500 tents with them by 12:01 a.m. Monday, just a handful were seen packing up Sunday.

Instead, some passed out fliers containing the city seal and the words: "By order of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, this notice terminates your tenancy and requires you to attend the Occupy L.A. Eviction Block Party," which the fliers said was scheduled for 12:01 a.m.

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