Dozens were arrested over the weekend after authorities decided to take harsh measures towards protesters in Austin and Portland.
Early Sunday 38 protesters from the Occupy Austin movement were arrested with charges of criminal trespassing. The occupiers set up shop on City Hall property, and according to officials, protesters refused to make way for pressure washing crews and were forced off the premises in cuffs after refusing to remove a food table.
The Daily Texan reported that City Hall officials released a memo on Saturday publicizing new regulations that pertain to the occupiers of Austin.
The memo states that sleeping and camping are strictly prohibited. Also in the memo the use of signs and food distribution tables were forbidden.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo offered a fairly original explanation for arresting the occupiers.
According to him it was for their own good.
“Some families with children showing up to show support Occupy Austin have been discouraged because of these conditions,” said Acevedo. “There are a few folks that created an environment that is challenging for the occupiers, visitors and workers around city hall,” Acevedo stated.
Many occupiers doubted that the new regulations were valid and found it hard to believe that Austin PD was trying to make it safe families to join in on the protests.
“These were arbitrary rules that came from City Hall which is what spurred people to resist in a non-violent way,” Ronnie Garza told YNN.
Garza and many other protesters thought the new regulations were more of a list of demands and didn’t think it was actually a law.
Michelle Millette, an Austin occupier, said, “the general assembly wanted to let people know about what the memo said. We requested 48 hours to discuss the proposals, but they never got back to us,” Millette told The Daily Texan.
A similar sight was seen in Portland, Oregon that same night.
In Portland police cracked down on over two dozen protesters for trespassing.
Officials say the protesters refused to leave the premises after a midnight, which is when the park closes.
Authorities say the demonstrators were given ample warnings.
Civil rights activist say law enforcement shouldn’t violate people’s right to assemble and also feel the pressure washing tactic is just a front to diminish the Occupy movement.
“This is private property, owned by the City of Austin as public space,” said protester Brian Overman to KVUE an ABC affiliate.
“For them to come out with a memo saying we don’t feel that this particular area is appropriate for freedom of speech – there’s no precedent for that,” Overman concluded.