Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta was once again the scene of protests and arrests Saturday night as Occupy Atlanta demonstrators clashed with police. Nineteen protestors were arrested, many for refusing to stay on sidewalks and blocking city streets, after demonstrators began an impromptu march down Peachtree Street.
Occupy Atlanta demonstrators vowed to once again camp out in Woodruff Park despite a warning from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed that anyone remaining in the park after it closed at 11 p.m. would be arrested. However, protestors began exiting the park shortly after the deadline as dozens of police officers on motorcycles and horses—some in riot gear, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution—encircled the park preparing to make arrests.
A handful of protestors remained in the park and were arrested, a symbolic move by the protestors one Occupy Atlanta spokesperson told Atlanta’s WSB-TV. As protestors left the park they began marching down Peachtree Street chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” In a show of strength, Atlanta police circled the park with a line of motorcycles, sirens wailing. A scuffle broke out between protestors and police after one demonstrator was nearly run over by a police motorcycle. Police arrested the demonstrator and charged him with a felony for attacking a police officer.
Occupy Atlanta demonstrators filed a federal lawsuit Friday claiming the mayor’s order to arrest any protestors remaining in Woodruff park after closing was unconstitutional. According to WSB-TV, the lawsuit states that groups numbering fewer than 75 do not need a permit to remain in the park overnight. Occupy Atlanta claims the protestors remaining in the park overnight have not numbered more than 75 and are therefore not required to obtain a permit.
The protestor charged with a felony will likely appear before a judge Monday, according to WSB-TV. The remaining 19 protestors will face a judge Sunday morning.
According to The Journal-Constitution, the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited with the protestors at Woodruff Park earlier in the day Saturday comparing their protests to the Rev. Martin Luther Kings final movement, the Poor People’s Movement.