Cops evacuate Occupy camps across US

Posted on November 15, 2011

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New York police dismantled the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park and arrested more than 70 people following a surprise late-night raid yesterday.

Protesters were ordered to leave at about 01:00, before police began removing tents and property.

The New York camp was set up in September to protest against economic inequality – it inspired dozens of similar camps around the world.

A camp in Oakland, California was cleared overnight on Monday.

Police in New York gave an announcement as their operation began, telling protesters: “The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office released a message on Twitter saying protesters should “temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps” but could return once the park was clear.

Leaflets were handed out telling occupants to “immediately remove all private property” and warning they would be arrested if they interfered with the operation.

“They gave us about 20 minutes to get our things together,” protester Sam Wood told Reuters. “It’s a painful process to watch, they are sweeping through the park.”

The area around the park was sealed off and journalists were prevented from entering. Some of the protesters said police had used pepper spray and accused them of using excessive force.

70 people were arrested in the park itself and several more nearby. Some protesters who had chained themselves to trees were later cut free by police.

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan, near the park, said the overnight action clearly took the camp by surprise.

But the protesters have been discussing regrouping at other sites around the city and believe the manner of the clearance will only amplify their message, our correspondent adds.

Protest organisers released a statement saying that while they may have been physically evicted, “you can’t evict an idea whose time has come”.

The Occupy movement, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and economic protest camps in Spain, is calling for a more equal distribution of the world’s wealth and a fairer response to the global economic crisis.

The New York action comes after police arrested 33 people in Oakland, California as they raided the protest camp in Frank Ogawa Plaza early on Monday morning.

A similar raid ended with police in riot gear arresting 50 people in Portland, Oregon on Sunday evening.

Police in a Vermont city have also evicted protesters after a man fatally shot himself last week inside a tent.

A number of other US cities have seen protests camps spring up in the past two months, and the Occupy movement has also spread to Europe, South America and Asia.

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Posted in: World