John Minchillo, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Dozens of anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested Sunday in Texas, where they clashed with police over food tables, and in Oregon, where officers dragged them out of a park in an affluent neighborhood. In New York and many other East Coast cities, it was a snowstorm that was making it difficult for demonstrators to stay camped out in public places.
The "Occupy" movement, which began six weeks ago in lower Manhattan to decry corporate influence in government and wealth inequality, has spread to cities large and small across the country and around the world. Demonstrators have spent weeks camped out in parks, wearing the patience of city officials — even those who have expressed some level of support for their cause.
In Portland, Ore., police have allowed protesters to sleep in two parks surrounded by office buildings despite policies outlawing camping, but Mayor Sam Adams warned demonstrators last week that he would not allow them to take over any more parks. Late Saturday, hundreds of protesters gathered in another park — Jamison Square in the wealthy Pearl District — and defied a midnight curfew.
About 30 people who had decided to risk arrest sat on the ground as other protesters walked around them and chanted "Whose Park? Our Park!" and "Make No Arrests."
When police moved in around 2 a.m., all but the sitting protesters backed off. An Associated Press photographer said most of those protesters went limp and were carried or dragged away by police. There was no violence during the arrests, which took about 90 minutes.
The protesters — all appearing to be in their 20s and 30s with many wearing Halloween-style face paint — were handcuffed and taken away in police vans. "We are the 99 percent," one arrestee continued to chant.
Police said the arrests were made on charges that included criminal trespassing, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.
Some protesters said they wanted to camp in the Pearl District because they view its residents as part of the wealthy demographic they're protesting. Commissioner Randy Leonard had urged them to reconsider, saying in a letter that it would be inappropriate to expand the demonstration into a neighborhood park.
"We — the entire city council — are your friends ... at present," Leonard wrote. "However, our friendship and support are now being unreasonably tested by the decision to occupy Jamison Square."
Police in Austin, Texas, made 39 arrests early Sunday as they moved to enforce a new rule banning food tables in the City Hall plaza where protesters have camped out. Some protesters surrounded the tables with arms linked.
Most were charged with criminal trespass, Police Chief Art Acevedo said. No injuries were reported.
Protesters had been advised of the food table ban on Friday, Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald told the Austin American-Statesman.
"We want to facilitate their activities," he said, "but we can't allow this to be a permanent campsite."
Some protesters found the ban arbitrary. "On a night where there are hundreds of drunks driving around town, they have all these resources here to take down three food tables," protester Dave Cortez told the newspaper.
Protesters in California, Georgia and Colorado also have been arrested over the last several days.
In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's administration sent state troopers to haul away Occupy Nashville protesters Thursday and Friday for violating a park curfew, but none were jailed. A local official, Night Court Magistrate Tom Nelson, refused to sign off on the arrest warrants, saying state officials have no authority to set the curfew.
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