Hundreds of anti-Wall Street activists who faced eviction early Monday from their eight-week-old encampment outside Los Angeles City Hall will be allowed to stay put until at least dawn, a police official said.

But Police Commander Andrew Smith said demonstrators who continued to block downtown streets adjacent to the camp after 4 a.m. Pacific Time would be subject to immediate arrest, Reuters reported.

Smith told the Los Angeles Times he hoped protesters would choose to leave and was attempting to convey that message to the campers.

Hopefully we can do it the easy way and not the hard way, he said.

As word spread of the 4 a.m. deadline, people began chanting: Our street! the Times reported.

The police department has been on tactical alert since a midnight deadline for protesters to clear the park came and went. As the night wore on, police officials were working to get the word out to protesters that arrests were imminent, unless they returned to the park or left the area.

Hundreds of protesters and supporters gathered at the Occupy L.A. site on the lawn of City Hall Monday morning after the midnight deadline passed, but no arrests had been made.

The Los Angeles encampment is among the oldest and largest on the West Coast aligned with the two-month-old national Occupy Wall Street movement protesting economic inequality, high unemployment and the excesses of the U.S. financial system.