OKLAHOMA CITY — Protesters in Oklahoma City ended their two-month occupation of a downtown park Wednesday, but the movement in Tulsa intensified as three people chained themselves to a railing outside the front doors at City Hall.
The three Tulsa protesters said they had thrown away the keys to their chain locks and that it was up to authorities to saw them loose, but a city spokeswoman said the group was on public property and could stay.
"Tulsa is serious about the Occupy movement," said one of the chained protesters, Eli Silva. The 23-year-old Tulsa resident and de facto leader of the group was among several protesters pepper-sprayed last month by police after they violated curfew at a city park. Ten people were arrested.
Samuel Molik, who was chained next to Silva, wore a wool hat and a clear plastic poncho, which the cold rain was falling on. Molik, 24, said the trio expected to be arrested right away but that city employees and police officers were being cordial.
Many passers-by politely accepted the green fliers that protesters were handing out, while others shot the group angry looks.
Several people got out of cars to snap photos of the chained protesters, which also included Adam Smith, 27, who runs a small construction business in Tulsa.
Silva said a middle-aged woman walked up to them earlier in the day and told them their actions were illegal and to "get a job."
Samantha Pritchett, who showed up to support the chained protesters, said she is tired of the "political corruption and corporate greed" that she believes has infiltrated the country.
"You can't work a minimum-wage job at $7.25 and support your family," said the 24-year-old full-time student.
The Occupy protest at an Oklahoma City park came to a quiet end early Wednesday. Members removed tents and tables and ultimately vacated the park following an unsuccessful federal court battle that would have allowed them to stay in the camp overnight, organizer Mark Faulk said.
The group had sought a temporary injunction that would have prevented the city from enforcing an overnight curfew in the park, but on Monday a federal judge sided with the city.
Faulk described the end of the encampment as a "sad moment," but said the group plans to find alternative ways to protest core issues like wage disparity, corporate subsidies and what members describe as an undue influence of money in politics.
"We know this was an important part of the movement, but we also know that it's only that, it's only a part," Faulk said. "I think it's the birth of the movement. At this point, it will hopefully evolve into something more viable and more important.
"We know that we're moving forward. We haven't determined that exact path yet."
Although there were a few arrests for minor infractions like drug possession and public drunkenness at the park during the last two months, city officials described a cooperative relationship with the protesters.
"We worked very hard, along with the majority of the Occupy people, to keep the protest peaceful, and we're proud of that fact," said Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager.
"The police department had people communicating with the protest leaders the entire time, trying to avoid problems, so everybody deserves credit, not just the police department, but also the group from Occupy."