About 20 tents remained at the Occupy Berkeley encampment in Civic Center Park this morning despite a city-issued notice warning protesters that lodging in the park is prohibited. The notice, dated Tuesday, states that Civic Center Park closes at 10 p.m., and that anyone found camping in the park after 10 p.m. on Dec. 21 would be required to remove their tents. The encampment had grown to more than 100 tents in recent weeks, but Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said many protesters have left the site voluntarily after receiving the warning from the city.
Mike, a protester who declined to give his last name, said this morning that he and a small group of others plan to stay in the park despite the warning. “We’re not finished,” he said. “Our right to peaceably assemble should not be abridged.” Mike also said he’s not sure that the city’s warning is legally enforceable because there is no signature on it.
Kusmiss said police didn’t plan to raid the camp or remove occupied tents on Wednesday night, even though the warning stated that those who remained in the park after 10 p.m. would be subject to arrest. But she said officers arrested two people overnight when protesters clashed with public works crews and police. She said the first confrontation occurred shortly before midnight when officers who were removing abandoned tents at the park were encircled by what she described as “a very entrenched group of individuals.”
The officers used force to disband the group, she said. Kusmiss said the second confrontation occurred at about 1 a.m. when protesters surrounded and charged public works employees who were removing abandoned tents. One person was arrested in that incident. Just after 2 a.m., a live video stream showed one protester, whom others called “Bo,” exiting the police station down the block from the park. He said he had been cited for obstruction of justice and that his camera was taken away as evidence. He had suffered a chin injury — a wound for which he said he was treated at the station.
After his release, he accepted Occupy-based medical assistance from volunteers who bandaged his chin. Kusmiss said police also arrested a man who was found outside police headquarters with a crowbar, a canister and a gas mask. Police were on alert because there were reports that there could be threats to police headquarters, she said. That man was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness, and when officers searched him, they found amphetamines on him, Kusmiss said.
Kusmiss declined to say whether police would arrest those who stay in the park past 10 p.m. tonight. She said police will monitor the situation and continue to do “walk-throughs” in the park.
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