Chicago police arrested 175 members of a group protesting corporate greed early Sunday after they refused to take down their tents and leave a city park when it closed.
About 500 members of Occupy Chicago set up camp at the entrance to Grant Park on Saturday evening after a protest earlier in the day involving about 2,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. Occupy Chicago is an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that started last month in New York City and has inspired protests nationwide.
The Chicago demonstration entered its 24th day Sunday with protesters at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, organizer Rachael Perrotta said. She said organizers also were meeting protesters who had been arrested as they were released from jail.
Chicago police said they gave protesters repeated warnings after the park closed at 11 p.m. and began making arrests when they refused to leave. Officers also asked protesters to take down their tents before beginning to cut them down to clear the area, police said.
The arrests began about 1 a.m. Sunday and ended with the park cleared about 3:30 a.m., the newspaper reported. It said most arrests were peaceful, but at least two men refused to stand and had to be carried away. Video showed protesters sitting on the ground, chanting "This is what democracy looks like" and "Shame on you, CPD" as arrests were made.
Chicago police said protesters who were arrested would be released after background checks were done to make sure they didn't have any outstanding arrest warrants. They could face fines for violating a municipal ordinance.
Protesters say the arrests signify a new phase of civil disobedience for Chicago's wing of the movement. Twenty-two-year-old David Orlikoff of Chicago was among those arrested. He says the protesters don't want to be confrontational, but will use civil disobedience when the group feels "it's appropriate."
He says he's disappointed Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn't intervene to allow the protest to continue at an entrance to Grant Park.
Organizers of similar demonstrations in other cities have applied for permits to remain overnight or have moved out of parks and public buildings when they closed. Perrotta, an office worker in her 30s, said organizers in Chicago did not seek a permit to be in the park after hours.
"We believe we have the right as an international movement to secure a space where we can interact with the public and grow our occupation," she said.
Occupy Iowa members reached a deal with Des Moines' mayor Friday to move from the state Capitol to a city park, avoiding arrests.