Occupy Pittsburgh goes quietly as D.C., Oakland resist
With a Monday deadline to dismantle its camp, supporters of Occupy Pittsburgh began dismantling tents and removing other fixtures in place more than three months after the bank that owns the land sued to reclaim it. But protesters in Oakland and in Washington, D.C., remained defiant.
At least 11 people were arrested in Washington's McPherson Square since police over the weekend began clearing tents from the site, Associated Press reported. One of those arrested had been charged with felony assault on a police officer after allegedly hitting the officer in the face with a brick Saturday night, police told the AP.
Occupy Oakland supporters planned a day of action Monday, and dozens marched in the city on Saturday. There was no repeat of the violence that erupted a week earlier, when some protesters clashed with police and hundreds were arrested.
Since the Occupy movement began in mid-September with the original Occupy Wall Street protesters camping in a small park in Lower Manhattan, police and mayors have faced the challenge of enforcing no-camping rules in most parks and city squares even as they proclaim their support of freedom of speech and assembly.
In instances in which the occupied parks are private, that challenge has fallen to the property owners. That was the case in Pittsburgh's Mellon Green park, which is owned by the Bank of New York Mellon Corp.
The bank posted an eviction notice in the park in December, two months after people began camping there round-the-clock on Oct. 15. The notice said that the use of generators, propane heaters and other equipment intended to keep campers warm as winter arrived created hazardous conditions in the park -- the same argument used by officials who have closed Occupy camps elsewhere, including in Manhattan and Philadelphia.
After protesters ignored the bank's Dec. 11 deadline to leave, officials sued to get the protesters out, and a judge on Thursday upheld the eviction order and gave campers three days to vacate.
Jeff Cech of Occupy Pittsburgh said about half of the estimated 50 tents had been taken down by Sunday night and that no clashes were anticipated with police, AP reported. "I think that everyone here realizes that after [Monday] the encampment will not be here," Cech said, according to AP. "It's not going to be about trying to hold the ground."
But WTAE, the local NBC affiliate, said some people were not convinced that they should go quietly. "I do understand that there has been some talk by some members of Occupy Pittsburgh about doing some civil disobedience, but it's all up in the air, and it's all up to them personally," protester Carmon Elliot told WTAE. "We'll see what happens. Stay tuned, as they say."
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Isaac Hill of Industry, Pa., helps break down the Occupy Pittsburgh encampment in Mellon Green park. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press