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Occupy Portland protesters refusing to leave their park encampment were arrested Saturday night.
Riot police moved into South Park, in downtown Portland, to clear out the protesters around 8:30 p.m., a half hour after the park was closed early, the AP reported. Occupiers were told to leave the park by city officials, vowing to continue camping there throughout the winter.
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"This is a peaceful protest! We have the right to assemble!" demonstrators chanted late Saturday night, CNN reported.
According to Portland Parks and Recreation the protesters blocked park rangers and park employees from completing their jobs, CNN reported. Department spokesman Mark Ross said crews were trying to enforce park rules by clearing structures such as tents and estimated a few hundred protesters were at the park, CNN reported.
Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson described the situation as a “hostile environment,” CNN reported.
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Portland police officers dismantled tents and detained protesters with flex cuffs and hauled away those refusing to leave, but numbers of arrests haven’t been released yet, NBC News reported. CNN reported more than a dozen people were arrested for criminal trespass or interfering with police officers. Shortly after protesters joined in front of City Hall to begin a march after 10 p.m., with a heavy police presence.
Tensions calmed by 1 p.m. and Simpson told CNN police were pulled from the area.
This is not Occupy Portland’s first run-in with the cops. In November police arrested more than 50 protesters as they cleared two parks. The city’s move to push out the protesters was spurred by "a series of increased drug overdoses... an arsonist that used the camp as camouflage and almost a 20 percent increase in crime surrounding the encampment,” Mayor Sam Adams said, CNN reported.
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