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Protesters chanted “we won, we won” as police left after only four arrests during a largely peaceful, six-hour demonstration against the eviction. The arrests were on charges of failure to disperse.

Instead of moving in to clear the camp, as had been expected, police concentrated on clearing several hundred protesters who had spilled into the street so morning rush-hour traffic would not be affected.

Hours later, several demonstrators asked a federal judge for an injunction against the city.

The civil rights complaint contends that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa usurped the City Council’s authority when he set a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday for the tent-dwellers to disband.

The council passed a resolution of support for the occupiers in October that effectively allowed them to remain on the lawn despite a city ban on overnight camping, the complaint argued.

The city attorney’s spokesman John Franklin said the city was prepared to oppose any injunction.

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Mulvihill reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writers Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, John Rogers and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, and Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.