Despite an executive order extending Occupy Atlanta’s stay at Woodruff Park until November 7th, Mayor Kasim Reed sent police in to clear the protestors from the park early this morning, citing security and other concerns.
More than 50 people were arrested around 1 a.m. when the police began to move in on the park, including Georgia state Sen. Vincent Ford (D-Atlanta). All of the protesters were released today on signature bonds, although the volume of arrests created some delays in court proceedings.
The eviction comes after a weekend of rising tensions between the city and demonstrators. On Saturday protestors promoted an unpermitted hip-hop festival, which brought roughly 600 patrons and, according to the mayor, cost the city an estimated $100,000 for increased police presence.
The mayor told reporters his security concerns increased Tuesday when a man was seen in the park with an assault rifle. The man, who identified himself only as “Porch,” told 11Alive News he did not agree with the views of the protestors, but wanted to protect their right to protest.
Demonstrators have vowed to reoccupy the park following any arrests or evictions, but as of noon today the park remained closed. Atlanta Police issued a statement earlier this morning warning that anyone entering the park would be subject to arrest, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Arrests in Atlanta were largely peaceful, although police were forced to drag some demonstrators from the park. In Oakland, Calif. protests turned violent as police employed tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd after some protestors repotedly began hurling rocks at authorities.