OLYMPIA, Wash. — Authorities cleared Occupy Olympia protesters from a state park and a nearby building Friday, dismantling a sprawling tent city without making any arrests.
Dozens of Washington State Patrol troopers wearing full riot gear methodically swept through Heritage Park, taking apart tents and providing room for officials to erect a temporary fence. They made no arrests as protesters largely obeyed orders to move.
"We think it went really well," said Patrol Sgt. J.J. Gundermann. "Everybody left peacefully. Nobody gave us any problems or any hassle."
Some of the protesters had moved into a vacant building across the street. Authorities surrounded that facility and eventually allowed the occupants to leave.
Occupy activist Leon Janssen said it's not clear where the protesters will go next. He said the movement is just beginning and that the group plans to have weekly meetings in the state Capitol.
Janssen said the occupation had highlighted the problems of poverty and inequality. Many of the people living in the park were homeless.
"This is sparking a deeper more authentic conversation," Janssen said. "There is no reason people should be sleeping on the streets, getting sick and dying when we have so much abundance in our society."
The protesters have recently been targeting the Legislature, which is looking at making deep cuts in social services programs to balance the budget.
Occupiers first erected their tent community in Heritage Park two months ago, and state officials largely allowed it to persist despite asking for it to end. Government leaders notified them of eviction Thursday, citing concerns about drug use and safety.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said the site is not supposed to be a homeless shelter and she wanted other members of the public to have access to the park.
AP Writer Mike Baker can be reached at http://twitter.com/MikeBakerAP