Occupy Syracuse protesters have been removed from their camp in downtown Syracuse nearly a full day after a city-imposed deadline to leave or be evicted had passed.
On day 109 of the protest, Syracuse Police officers and Department of Public Works crews arrived at the encampment along South Salina Street around 3:40 a.m. with a front loader, bulldozer, and several trucks. They then began removing protestors, tents, and belongings from the site. This comes after Wednesday morning's deadline came and went with no police officers making contact with the protesters.
Syracuse Police spokesman Sgt. Tom Connellan tells CNY Central reporter Brandon Roth that most of the protestors left peacefully when officers arrived. Seven people, four men and three women, refused to vacate the premises and were arrested without incident. Roth says they were taken to the Public Safety Building downtown and ticketed for erecting a tent in a public space without a permit. They were then released.
Those arrested were Tara Rush, 40, of Minoa, Judith Blanco, 30, of Syracuse, Jonathan Grey, 35, of Syracuse, John Tall, 35, of Atlantic Beach in Florida, Ryan Ohara, 27, of Weedsport, Aaron Williams, 19, of Syracuse, and Kaitlyn Shanahan, 20, of Syracuse.
Connellan stressed that individuals are free to protest at the Occupy site or anywhere in the city, but they cannot set up a tent or any type of structure. In fact, Roth says some protestors have already begun returning to the site.
On Wednesday night, fire investigators stopped by the camp twice to look for safety violations. They were specifically looking for propane tanks. Protesters tell us fire officials did not find anything that would compromise safety.
Occupy Syracuse protestors had expected to see police around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday. They were given 24 hours to leave their camp where they have been for several months.
Syracuse Police vans and cars were in the area, but no officers got out of their vehicles at the Occupy Syracuse camp.
Wednesday morning, in anticipation of eviction, a protester streamed video live on the web while those around her held signs, sang songs, and chanted.
Tuesday morning, Mayor Miner and Syracuse Fire Chief Mark McLees asked protestors to vacate within 24 hours, citing safety concerns. But not everyone planned to leave.
"I'm definitely going to stand my ground. This is a hiccup not a hindrance to the movement," said occupier Kaitlyn Shanahan Wednesday morning.
"I'm not going anywhere," said Jon Grey, who had been at the camp for 105 days. "They can come here and fight us if they want to. They can take away our tents if they want to, but it's our constitutional right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
(CNY Central's Brandon Roth and Maren Guse contributed to this report.)