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Police tell Occupy San Diego protesters to remove their tents from plaza

October 13, 2011 |  5:32 pm

Photo: Sign at Occupy San Diego protest. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times.San Diego police on Thursday afternoon ordered Occupy San Diego protesters to remove their tents and other property from the plaza behind City Hall by midnight or face arrest.

Two dozen police surrounded the plaza, where several hundred protesters have been camped in tents since the weekend.

Small groups of protesters, after listening to Assistant  Chief Boyd Long, huddled to discuss their next move.

A chant arose throughout the crowd, "Hell no, we won't go."

Long said the protesters must remove their tents and other structures -- including a makeshift kitchen  -- so that the area can be cleaned up Friday in advance of a dance troupe performance Saturday at the plaza auditorium that is expected to draw more than 1,000 people.

The protesters can remain, Long said, but their tents, tarps, tables, chairs and other personal property have to be removed. Those who do not comply, he said, will be subject to arrest and their belongings impounded.

Relations between the protesters and police have been mellow since more than 1,000 protesters marched Friday afternoon to the plaza.

There have been no arrests. Police had ignored a municipal ordinance that bans tents and other things that block the "public right-of-way" on public property.

But on Thursday afternoon, Long said that the ordinance will now be enforced.

Seemingly in anticipation of a clash with police, Occupy San Diego organizers from the beginning posted a handwritten sign reminding protesters of their legal right to remain silent and demand an attorney before being questioned.

A telephone number was also posted where protesters can report allegations of police misconduct.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Sign at Occupy San Diego protest. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times.

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