SYDNEY (Reuters) - Police broke up a Sydney protest camp inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in an early morning raid on Sunday, making dozens of arrests, police and protesters said.
The 'Occupy Sydney' protest against corporate greed and economic inequality in the Martin Place business district had been going on for a week, with a small group sleeping out in the square despite seizure of camping equipment, setting up solar panels to charge mobile phones.
The raid by about 100 officers came two days after police in Melbourne broke up a parallel protest there in violent scenes. New South Wales state police said they had made 40 arrests in Sydney on Sunday. Some protesters were expected to be charged with crimes, including assaulting police.
Video shot by protesters and posted on their website (www.occupysydney.org.au) showed a rubbish-strewn patch of ground, with police moving through in the dark.
Protest spokesman who gave his name as Tim Davis Frank said about 70 people were in the area when the raid started around 5 a.m. (19:00 British time Saturday), including some homeless people who had joined the demonstrators.
"I was fast asleep. People started yelling - get your camera out. One of the police was yelling something into a microphone," Davis Frank told Reuters. "They basically informed us we had 10 minutes to gather our possessions."
Police said protesters had originally had permission to protest for two hours, which they had exceeded more than a week ago, and had repeatedly ignored requests to leave.
"Protesters were given a final warning to leave Martin Place this morning before police moved in and cleared the area," police said in a statement.
Although inspired by the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement, the protests generally only attracted crowds of up to a few hundred, largely drawn from left-wing groups.
Australia's economy weathered the global economic crisis better than most developed nations, buoyed by its key resources exports, and currently has a low unemployment rate.
Reporting by Chris McCall, Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)