Occupy Charlottesville’s permit to camp in Downtown’s Lee Park expired yesterday at 6pm. By then, tents and the occupiers’ belongings were gone. At 11pm, the exact time when the curfew for the park kicked in, that Charlottesville Police issued their first warning to the protesters.
After a few warnings, police arrested 18 occupiers, two of whom were issued summonses, reports the Daily Progress.
About two dozen police officers removed the protesters, who were sitting, arm in arm at the north side of the park, one at a time. Most were handcuffed and walked to the police vans, while a couple were dragged and two more were taken into custody on stretchers.
Meanwhile, protesters huddled on the sidewalk chanting Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and thanked those who decided to get arrested for their courage.
Among the bystanders was City Councilor Kristin Szakos. “It’s no secret that I actually support the Occupy movement,” she said. “I wanted to be there as an individual, not getting arrested.” As a Councilor, Szakos said she felt that it was important to be there as a witness, without taking an active role.
As for the future of the movement, Szakos said that it may be beneficial to the group to now focus on the issues that brought them together.
“The kind of logistics of first setting up camp and what’s allowed and all of that, have taken up a lot of the dialogue time, a lot of action time. It may be at this point that there can be more discussion of some of the issues that brought folks there,” she said.
According to the Occupy Charlottesville website, occupiers are planning to meet at the Free Speech Wall on the east end of the Downtown Mall tonight at 6pm for their daily general assembly meeting.
Occupy Charlottesville protesters on the sidewalk chanting.
Protesters holding signs before in Lee Park.
Protesters who were willing to get arrested sat in a circle.
A protester stripped down in sign of protest.
Police Chief Tim Longo briefs protesters on the eviction procedures.
One of the first arrests at Lee Park.
Charlottesville Police officers stood in front of those protesters sitting on the grass blocking the view.
City Councilor Kristin Szakos among the protesters.
One of the protesters who was arrested is walked to one of the police’s vans. (Photos by Chiara Canzi).