December 24, 2011 / 2:50 AM / 7 years ago

Police in Berkeley end overnight Occupy camping

An Occupy Berkeley demonstrator walks past a sign at the movement's encampment at Berkeley Civic Center Park after officials delivered an eviction notice in Berkeley, California December 21, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

BERKELEY, Calif (Reuters) - A camp of anti-Wall Street protesters in Berkeley, California, has all but vanished under pressure from police, who have returned repeatedly to enforce a nighttime curfew, authorities said on Friday.

The Occupy Berkeley camp in the liberal Northern California college town was one of a dwindling number of similar sites where protesters camped overnight on public property.

Police in Berkeley made two arrests of people who refused to leave Civic Center Park on Thursday night, following another two arrests the night before, but most protesters left voluntarily, said Berkeley Police Lieutenant Andrew Greenwood.

Police leafleted the Occupy Berkeley camp on Wednesday, warning they would no longer tolerate violation of an ordinance that closes city parks between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. As a result, many protesters began packing up their tents.

The camp, which had about 50 tents at its height, had become increasingly violent, police said. And protesters told Reuters there were conflicts within their ranks as mentally ill people took up residence.

By Thursday afternoon, most tents were gone and public works employees guarded by police picked up tents and other items left behind, Greenwood said.

Protesters returned on Friday morning and pitched three tents. “It has been made clear to them that they will have to be out of there by 10 p.m.,” Greenwood said.

The Occupy movement, which argues the U.S. economic system is unfair with too much wealth and power held by a few, began in New York in September and quickly spread to other cities.

But many of the encampments have since been cleared by authorities, often on the basis that they had become unsanitary or had growing safety and crime problems.

Reporting by Laird Harrison: Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton

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