November 12, 2011 / 10:51 PM / 6 years ago

Police arrest 27 St. Louis protesters over curfew

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Police arrested 27 St. Louis demonstrators protesting economic issues at a downtown plaza early Saturday for curfew violations, authorities said.

The anti-Wall Street protesters offered no resistance as officers slipped on plastic handcuffs and walked them into police vans amid chants of "Our passion for freedom is stronger than your prison," and "Serve the people, not the state."

About 400 people had gathered at the plaza near the Gateway Arch on Friday night despite a warning from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay that they would have to leave the park.

Slay has offered to continue talks to find a permanent place for the protest.

The protesters tried to get a federal court order restraining the police from making the arrests. But those efforts fell through and the curfew, which had only been enforced once before during the 40-day-old protest, was put into effect.

The arrests came early on Saturday morning local time, when the crowd had dwindled down to about 200 people, authorities said. The 27 who were arrested refused to leave.

"We believe that we should have a voice," protester Angelo Dower said before entering the police van. "And the people that have the money have the voice."

Occupy participants returned to the park Saturday afternoon to continue their non-violent protest against economic inequality.

Participants also said they would continue to pursue their case in U.S. District Court next week. They say the First Amendment gives them the right to stay in the park.

The St. Louis protest is part of the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York in September. Camps around the country have sprung up. They have been largely peaceful, but in Oakland, California, there have been clashes with police.

In Portland, Oregon, police have told protesters encamped at two downtown parks to clear out by one minutes after midnight on Sunday.

With that deadline nearing, some people at the parks were dismantling tents and leaving behind debris such as tarps and clothing, said Portland police Lieutenant Robert King.

No crowd estimate was provided by police officials, who have expressed concern that some demonstrators may be fashioning makeshift weapons for a confrontation.

Activist Adriane DeJerk, 26, confirmed some demonstrators have left but said hundreds remain. And more participants are expected to attend a community potluck later today.

Additional reporting by Teresa Carson in Portland and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles: Editing by James B. Kelleher and Greg McCune

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