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Police arrest sidewalk chalk-drawers in LA Occupy protest

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Occupy demonstrators who were drawing with chalk on sidewalks clashed with police at a public art event in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Police said 17 people were arrested and four officers injured.

The melee happened at the monthly Art Walk, an event where visitors jam the streets around galleries and museums.

Police said Friday that officers were pelted with rocks and bottles, and that 140 officers in riot gear were deployed to the area to deal with a crowd of about 200 people.

Cheryl Aichele, 34, a member of the Occupy movement, said most of those arrested were drawing in chalk on the sidewalk as part of the protests. Police say the clashes began when officers moved to disperse the crowd of about 200 people.

Officers were pelted with rocks and bottles, police said, and 140 officers in riot gear were deployed to the area.

Los Angeles police spokeswoman Officer Norma Eisenman confirmed some of the protesters were arrested for drawing on the sidewalk.

Most of the 17 people were detained for misdemeanor vandalism, but three people were arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer, Eisenman said.

An officer suffered a minor concussion when she was hit in the faceshield with a bottle, said Eisenman.

Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Doina Chiacu