Police Remove Occupy Baltimore Protesters
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — No violence erupted as dozens of officers raided Occupy Baltimore overnight while many protesters slept. The city barricaded the scene and cleared away trash and personal belongings of those who called it home for more than two months.
Mike Hellgren reports from War Memorial Plaza, where the group will meet at 8 p.m. to discuss its future.
Police made a substantial show of force, showing up in riot gear in the middle of the night and making good on the city’s promise to evict Occupy Baltimore from McKeldin Square.
“I was asleep. I got woken by people shouting the police had arrived, and we had 30 minutes to get out,” said Leo Zimmerman, Occupy Baltimore.
Crews dismantled the tents and cleared the trash.
Throughout the day, only police would occupy this space.
With no arrests and no violence like other cities have seen, the mayor considers it a success.
“It certainly wasn’t going to go on forever, and we decided it was time,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.”This is not about the message. The message resonates with me. It resonates with people across the country.”
The city has not said when they will re-open McKeldin Square to the public.
“The facts bear out that we had the right approach and tactics to make sure that happened in a respectful way,” said Rawlings-Blake.
Occupy Baltimore made few waves, with the exception of some violence at the square and a notable confrontation with former presidential advisor Karl Rove.
“Who gave you the right to occupy America? Nobody,” Rove told a group of protesters who disrupted his speaking engagement at Johns Hopkins.
James MacArthur, who has covered the movement here from the start 10 weeks ago, describes the police rousing as “extremely intimidating. All dark clothing. Ninja masks. You could only see eyes. Helmets on top of that. Face shields over the helmets.”
“I never thought I’d see this,” he continued. “I expected that once the cops came what happened would happen. They would just simply leave.”
And where they’re headed may be closer than you think. Occupiers say just because McKeldin Square is empty does not mean the movement is over in Baltimore. Some plan to take over foreclosed homes in the city.
“Now, it time to truly Occupy Baltimore and not just Occupy McKeldin Square,” said Mike Gibb, Occupy Baltimore protester. “We were being contained in McKeldin. Now that that’s gone, there are plenty of buildings to squat. Essentially, Occupy is coming to a neighborhood near you.”
But many protesters don’t know where they’re going next.
“The camps have a strong cultural significance to the Occupy movement, but they’re not really what we’re there for,” said Emsenn, Occupy Baltimore.
It’s unclear whether the group will now continue meeting at War Memorial Plaza. Some want to hold their nightly general assembly back at McKeldin Square.