Occupy Berkeley campers face eviction Wednesday night

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 10:13 PM
Occupy Berkeley campers face eviction Wednesday night

By Laird Harrison

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street protesters in the city of Berkeley are bracing for an imminent eviction the city said would occur late on Wednesday night.

The city distributed flyers announcing the 10:00 p.m. closure of the Occupy Berkeley encampment, which has numbered roughly 100 participants since it began in mid-October, according to city spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

The camp is one of the few remaining holdouts of the anti-Wall Street movement left in a major U.S. city that sprung up as part of a nationwide Occupy movement against economic inequality and the excesses of the financial system.

A sister Occupy protest in nearby UC Berkeley, a cradle of 1960s student activism, was broken up in November by campus police who struck some students and faculty members with nightsticks.

Most of the larger protest camps in cities such as New York and Los Angeles were shut down by police in recent weeks.

The closure notice, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, warns that anybody present in the park after 10 p.m. on Wednesday is subject to arrest for illegal presence in a closed park. Those with tents will be subject to arrest for illegal lodging, the notice said.

The Berkeley Police Department cited "a substantial increase in illegal activities in Civic Center park since the last week of November associated with the current encampment," in a press release issued last week.

In a news release on Wednesday, the police department noted that "there have been cases involving violence in the Occupy Berkeley encampment such as batteries, possession of dangerous weapons, assault with deadly weapons and most recently an attempted rape."

City officials also distributed a list of emergency homeless shelters along with the park closure notice, Clunies-Ross said.

Protest organizers issued a "call to action" in the wake of the announcement, asking for supporters to congregate at the protest site in advance of the expected closure.

(Reporting and writing by Mary Slosson; editing by Tim Gaynor)