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[CT] Police move to shut down Occupy camps

Released on 2012-03-02 01:00 GMT

Email-ID 748498
Date 2011-11-13 23:03:57
Protesters arrested as police clear Occupy encampments

By Ashley Hayes, CNN
updated 4:57 PM EST, Sun November 13, 2011

(CNN) -- Numerous arrests took place in several Western cities as police
moved in to clear Occupy encampments over the weekend, authorities said.

In Portland, Oregon, unrest continued into Sunday morning as protesters
defied a midnight Saturday deadline for the Occupy encampments to close.

Tensions abated later Sunday as police attempted to peacefully close city
parks, but flared at one park when protesters refused to leave. Police
said on Twitter those refusing to leave Chapman Square were being

Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson estimated Sunday afternoon that more
than a dozen people were arrested. Chapman Square was the last city park
where protesters were gathered, as the others had been vacated as of
Sunday afternoon, he said.

Video posted on the website of CNN affiliate KGW showed officers in riot
gear holding batons facing off with protesters. Simpson said the officers
were in the gear as a precaution, and were joined by other assisting
agencies. "We needed the manpower because we used up a lot of resources
yesterday (Saturday)," he said.

The operation was "pretty methodical," although a few demonstrators had
scuffled with officers, he said.

Video showed authorities dismantling tents at the camp.

Once the parks are cleared, temporary fencing will be erected so repairs
can be made, Simpson said. The parks are "pretty beat up," he added.

One officer was struck in the leg earlier Sunday by a projectile thrown
from a crowd, and was taken to a hospital, but the injuries were not
life-threatening, authorities said. One protester was arrested in a
separate incident overnight, Simpson said.

Video from the scene showed masses of protesters on downtown streets. In
the early-morning hours Sunday, police told demonstrators to leave the
streets or face arrest. All but two of the demonstrators followed that
order, retreating into several parks, KGW reported.

"A lot of people packed up and left today," police Lt. Robert King said.
But hundreds of people showed up in the early morning hours -- some of
whom have not been affiliated with the Occupy movement until now --
apparently hoping to witness a police confrontation, King said.

Early Sunday, Mayor Sam Adams praised police for showing professionalism
in a "very tense situation."

Police declared the parks closed as of midnight, Simpson said, "and
they'll remain closed. They're not going to be open until they're

Police and parks department employees were on the scene for the closures,
helping people and removing debris from parks, he said. Those who needed a
place to stay were being referred to shelters, Simpson said.

"We're going to be very patient," Adams said earlier Sunday. "I'm
prioritizing patience ... In order for us to do this peacefully, we need
the time and folks on the ground need the time to do their work right."

One member of Occupy Portland, however, said demonstrators were not
planning to budge.

"We're talking about issues that matter to people's lives," Kari Koch told
CNN. Authorities can order them to leave, but protesters have a right to
assembly and a right to free speech, she said. "We're not going to back
down and leave the parks just because it's inconvenient for the mayor to
have us here."

The Occupy Portland movement, on Twitter, was calling for additional
protesters as camps were coming down.

What started as the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York in September
has spread across major cities worldwide as a call to action against
unequal distribution of wealth.

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter said Sunday he was increasing police
presence near the Occupy Philly camp and asking the city's police
commissioner to "establish structures and strategic positioning and
deployment of officers on a regular basis in that location."

What began as a peaceful protest 39 days ago has given way to increasing
public safety and public health concerns, Nutter told reporters.

A woman reported she was sexually assaulted Saturday night in a tent at
the encampment, Nutter said. In addition, there is the threat of fire near
historic City Hall and concerns about litter, public urination, defecation
and graffiti, he said.

Numerous reports of thefts and assaults in the encampment have been made,
and 15 emergency medical runs were made between October 6 and November 11,
he said.

In addition, a maintenance project is set to begin soon on City Hall, one
of several, he said. A $50 million renovation is planned for Dilworth
Plaza, where protesters have camped.

Occupy Philly's general assembly voted Friday night not to move from the
plaza, and members have not responded in recent weeks to expressions of
concern from the city, which has repeatedly tried to work with the
protesters, he said. "Many of the people that we talked to in the
beginning of this event and activity are now gone," he said.

"We have things we need to do," Nutter said. "I understand that they have
things on their mind as Americans and wish to express their free speech. I
understand that, I get that, I've defended that. The things we're talking
about, the activities that are going on, are not about free speech.
They're public health and public safety concerns that have nothing to do
with Wall Street and corporations."

The protesters are "purposely standing in the way of nearly 1,000 jobs for
Philadelphians at a time of high unemployment," Nutter said. "They are
blocking Philadelphians from taking care of their families."

"Misconduct is not about free speech," the mayor said, "and the behavior
we're now seeing is running squarely into the needs of our city government
that also represents the 99%. As mayor of the city of Philadelphia, I
represent the 99% also."

CNN affiliate WPVI reported a suspect was arrested in the alleged sexual

Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, police said on Twitter 19 people were
arrested Saturday night as authorities moved in to clear an Occupy Salt
Lake encampment at a downtown park.

Police had ordered protesters to leave the park after a man was found dead
late Thursday night. The cause of death was thought to be carbon monoxide
poisoning and a drug overdose, CNN affiliate KSTU reported.

"We can no longer tolerate individuals camping on our streets," Salt Lake
City Police Chief Chris Burbank told reporters.

However, "only camping is over," Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's
office said on Twitter -- protests can continue at the park. KSTU reported
authorities said protesters would be allowed to have a 24-hour presence
and one building, but the tents had to go.

Since camping began at the park, Becker's office said in the statement,
"local law enforcement has responded to a dramatically increased amount of
criminal activity in the park, and has made over 90 arrests in the area
since early October."

A melee involving 30 people on Wednesday night led to four arrests,
Becker's office said, and public safety "has become increasingly
questionable. Additionally, the amount of human and animal waste, as well
as drug paraphernalia, is an escalating public concern."

As police moved in Saturday evening, according to video from the scene,
protesters chanted, "This is what a police state looks like."

"Our rights to assembly, which are embodied in the First Amendment, are
still being violated," protester Jesse Fruhwirth told KSTU. "Our
forefathers are speaking to us, telling us that this is what assembly
looks like. Not being able to camp here severely limits the ability of us
to keep our coalition together."

"Many thanks to all for a peaceful resolution," Salt Lake City police
tweeted late Saturday.

In Denver, police in riot gear arrested 17 people Saturday night as they
cleared furniture and tents from an Occupy encampment near the city's
civic center, police spokesman Sonny Jackson told CNN. The main issue, he
said, was that the items were blocking a right of way.

"People are welcome to come back and protest, but we don't want them to do
it in a way that's not safe," Jackson said.

In Oakland, California, police issued a third notice for demonstrators to
vacate city parks on Saturday, police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson
told CNN. The protesters had not complied with that order, Watson said.

A second notice was issued Saturday morning after a fatal shooting near
the camp, according to CNN affiliate KCBS. A man in his early 20s was
shot Friday. Authorities said one of the suspects has been "a frequent
resident at the encampment over the past several days," KCBS said.

Also Saturday, 27 protesters were arrested in St. Louis after defying an
existing park curfew, authorities said.

Ben West
Tactical Analyst
ext. 4340