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Oakland orders end to overnight camping; some supporters of Occupy Wall Street resist
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) ' Hundreds of protesters remained Friday outside Oakland City Hall and faced a 10 p.m. ultimatum from the city for vacating the two-week encampment that sprang up in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Many protesters said they had no intentions of packing up their tents and leaving after the city said it can no longer assure public health and safety at the site.
"I'm not going anywhere. They're going to have to come and take me away," said Christopher Dunlap, 23, who claims he has been camping on the plaza lawn from the first day of the protest.
Karen Boyd, a city spokeswoman, declined to say what would happen if the order banning tents and overnight camping was ignored. Boyd said while the city will no longer allow protesters to stay overnight at the site, they can demonstrate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"We are expecting them to comply as this is not intended to be an overnight lodging and camping place," Boyd said.
Oakland police have not yet been given any direction to remove the protesters, said Officer Johnna Watson, a police spokeswoman. Police did not return calls seeking further information on how the 10 p.m. deadline might be enforced.
In less than two weeks, the encampment quickly grew from a few dozen tents to more than 150, causing overcrowding and tension. Some protesters moved to another site across town.
Oakland officials repeatedly said the city was committed to allowing free speech, with Mayor Jean Quan proclaiming Wednesday that sometimes "democracy is messy."
However, citing an increasing rat problem, the city made repeated requests for campers to remove fire hazards then cited public urination and acts of violence as reasons for them to pack up and go.
Several cities around the world have arrested anti-Wall Street protesters who have failed to leave public areas.
The notice to vacate didn't sit well with protesters. Since their arrival, they have created a 24-hour kitchen, complete with pots, pans and a stove as well as areas for health and child care.
The campsite also has an organizational board filled with meeting times throughout the day and a "Needs" board for requested items.
"We've already curbed two problems in downtown Oakland: we've solved hunger and we've solved homelessness and hunger," Shake Anderson, an organizer, said Friday. "No one is here to destroy anything ... We're not breaking any laws."
Earlier Friday, Oakland Interim Deputy Fire Chief Lisa Baker toured the perimeter of the site after she claimed firefighters were threatened and harassed while responding to three 911 calls on Thursday.
"Can I talk to your president? Who's in charge?" Baker asked.
Robin Woods, an Oakland Occupy member, replied, "We don't have one. This is a leaderless movement."
Baker said, "Look, we're not trying to be confrontational, but if someone calls 911, they will get the care and service that we provide."
Baker urged Woods to pass along her thoughts to organizers. The two shook hands.
Anderson said that he hopes the city doesn't try to take down the community built by demonstrators.
"This has no corporate ties. This is all public, all people, that's why this is a threat," Anderson said. "This is a peaceful assembly, so therefore if you want to violently come in here, what does that say about America?"