San Antonio police arrest 5 'Occupy' protestors

Police said group members refused to leave Hemisfair Park

SAN ANTONIO - Five members of the group "Occupy San Antonio" were arrested Monday morning after reportedly refusing to leave a newly-roped off area in Hemisfair Park.

Steve Baum, commander of San Antonio Park Police said the group members were among about a dozen people who had taken up residence inside a small adobe building in the park.

Baum said the entire group was given notice a week ago that they were in violation of the city's no camping ordinance. While most complied with orders to relocate, about a dozen stayed behind, moving into the building, he said.

On Saturday, officers issued citations to some of those protestors, Baum said. But by Monday morning, he said, they had no option but to move in and seal off the area with crime scene tape.

"Those that didn't comply were arrested for the camping violation," Baum said. "One was a little profane and was arrested for disorderly conduct. "

Group members, though, said the arrests were a violation of their rights.

Caleb Powell said officers who showed up at the site shortly before 8 a. m. told the group they were shutting down the park all together. Yet, he said, they allowed other park users to remain there, while forcing the group to leave.

"They took all of our stuff and threw it in the back of a city truck," Powell said. "It's probably going to a landfill right now. "

Baum said the group was asked to relocate so that preparations can be made for "Celebrate San Antonio", the city's annual New Year's Eve bash.

"We have the fencing coming in today," he said. "We have other operations that are going to come in to build up toward the celebration."

Long after the arrests were made Monday morning, about a half dozen protestors remained in the park, shouting chants at police officers who stood guard over the building.

Baum said as long as the group does not try to camp out at the site, there should not be a problem.

Powell, though, said he has a problem with the way police have handled the situation, and he feels it has marred the once friendly relationship they shared.

"We've tried to work hand in hand with them," Powell said, "tried to compromise with them, do whatever they want to tell us to do and they turn around and stab us in the back."


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