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Occupy Oakland protesters ignore eviction notice

Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters defiantly remained at their campsite outside Oakland's City Hall early Saturday, despite a city order to vacate.
Image: 'Occupy Oakland' protesters on Wednesday
Protesters walk along a path beside tents erected in front of Oakland City Hall on Wednesday.Ben Margot / AP
/ Source: NBC, msnbc.com and news services

Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters defiantly remained at their campsite outside Oakland's City Hall early Saturday, despite a city order to vacate.

As the 10 p.m. time of the city's ultimatum passed Friday night, Occupy Oakland demonstrators showed no signs of departing as music blasted from the plaza. More protesters arrived with tents as midnight approached.

Earlier, city spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that Oakland gave official notice that the protesters do not have permission to remain overnight and that their encampment is breaking the law. She would not comment on what steps the city would take toward enforcing of the law. There was no indication of significant police presence early Saturday.

A lone Oakland police cruiser seen passing the site around 11:30 p.m. on Friday was greeted with waves from protesters.

Boyd said that protesters can legally demonstrate at the plaza from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"You do not have permission to lodge overnight in Frank Ogawa Plaza," the city's notice read. "You must remove all tents, sleeping bags, tarps, cooking facilities and equipment and any other lodging material from the plaza immediately. Your continued use of the plaza for overnight lodging will subject you to arrest."

Tents have been erected in front of Oakland City Hall as part of the 'Occupy Oakland' protest.Ben Margot / AP

The statement added that the city of Oakland and its police department "support and protect the right of all individuals to engage in free speech and their right to assemble" but added that the encampment is "a violation of the law."

Several cities in the United States and around the world have arrested anti-Wall Street protesters who have failed to leave public areas.

The encampment has quickly grown from a few dozen tents to more than 150, causing overcrowding and tension. Some protesters moved to another site across town.

"I'm not going anywhere," said Christopher Dunlap, 23, who said he has been on the City Hall lawn since the first day of the encampment. "They're going to have to come and take me away."

Rats
Oakland officials had said the city was committed to letting protesters camp on the City Hall plaza as Mayor Jean Quan proclaimed on Wednesday that sometimes "democracy is messy.

By the next day, however, the city cited an increasing rat problem, repeated requests for protesters to remove fire hazards, then public urination and acts of violence also as reasons for them to pack up and go.

Boyd said the group cooperated in the beginning, but things had changed as they "exceeded their ability to address public health and safety issues."

"We have been very clear about the expectations," Boyd said. "It has gotten to a point where individuals can no longer maintain the plaza. It's deteriorated to the point where we needed to take strong action."

The vacate notice 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.

"We've already curbed two problems in downtown Oakland: we've solved hunger and we've solved homelessness," Shake Anderson, an organizer, said Friday. "No one is here to destroy anything."