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UPDATED: Atlanta Police Clear Woodruff Park, Arrest 52 Occupy Atlanta Protesters

Police warn that anybody in the park could be arrested.

Atlanta police flooded Woodruff Park in the overnight hours Tuesday, barricading the Downtown green space and clearing it of the Occupy Atlanta protesters who had taken it .

City officials said the police arrested 52 protesters without incident.

“For more than two weeks, the City of Atlanta, downtown residents and business owners have shown tolerance and patience for the members of Occupy Atlanta,” Mayor Reed said in a release sent to news media. “The protesters, however, moved from conducting an initially peaceful demonstration to increasingly aggressive actions."

The police said the park is closed and anyone who tries to enter will be arrested.

Protesters had occupied the park for 15 days.

Tensions between protesters and surrounding neighbors had grown, and city officials said they were concerned about safety. Other cities have seen similar conflict between Occupy protesters and nearby businsses and residents in recent days, the Associated Press reported.

Over the weekend, a hip-hop concert that is not affiliated with Occupy Atlanta took place at the park. Organizers of the concert failed to receive final permit approval from the city.

On Tuesday, a man calling himself "Porch" and identifying himself as a Tea Party member, walked around park and adjoining streets, with an AK-47 slung across his back.

Reed's office said the mayor met with more than two dozen faith-based leaders on Monday, and asked them to help the city negotiate with the protesters. City officials said the protesters would not engage in a dialogue Tuesday and "shouted down the clergy members."

In a statement, Occupy Atlanta said it planned an 11 a.m. rally at City Hall.

"After a meeting between Occupy Atlanta and a group of clergy was arranged for Thursday at noon at the mayor’s request, the Atlanta Police Department went ahead with what was apparently a planned raid on Occupy Atlanta Tuesday night," the statement read. "Arrests were made with no resistance, and included Joe Beasley, Derrick Bozeman, and State Sen. Vincent Fort.

"The evidence shows that despite the fact that Mayor Reed claimed that he was sending clergy to speak with Occupy Atlanta in order to find a “peaceful solution,” the outcome was already predetermined."

Initially, Occupy Atlanta was told it had to leave following the expiration of its Oct. 7 permit, the same evening that the protest began.

The protesters stayed anyway, led marches to Emory University Hospital and Bank of America plaza and built something of a tent city in the park.

Reed said the group could stay until Nov. 7, but that members would have to leave by the end of the City Council meeting that same day.

Occupy Atlanta, which , the Savannah man executed for gunning down a Savannah police officer, said it would not leave under any circumstances and deadline or not, the group would remain.

The move by APD created a flurry of commentary on Twitter, where #APD became a trending topic.

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Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 26, 2011 at 02:02 PM
I don't understand, why everyone keep saying, that their movement is patterned after the Civil Rights movement? We at the SCLC teach classes on non-violence, we educate protesters who are SCLC members not to break the laws. Each time we host an event, we get all the permits and we collaborate our efforts with local law enforcement, with clear goals. You can not keep comparing every movement to the civil rights movement. I was young child when the bus boycott and sit-in were taking place. As kids we walked everywhere and everyone in the black community took part in the movement. We are calling our citizen to join in with us to fight for the real creation of jobs, to stop the violence, black on black and white on white crimes which are the highest we ever seen, as more people are using crimes to create income. The SCLC Stop the Violence and Incarceration movement is hosting classes in the community, to the creating of business at street levels, teaching citizen how to create income the ground up, using economic empowerment to counter act criminal behaviors. 65% of those completing these classes do not repeat back in the correction system. We seek to be Proactive, not reactive. I thank those in the Occupy Atlanta movement, as it shows that America is ready for progressive change. We ask that you join with us and other nonprofits, never stop believing the American Way and never, never stop believing in your rights as Americans. Thank you for your efforts.

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