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Monday, February 6, 2012

Occupy Pittsburgh waiting for the end

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 7:54 PM

An Allegheny County judged ruled today that the sheriff's department must remove all protesters, tents and other equipment from Occupy Pittsburgh's camp at BNY Mellon's downtown parklet.

When that will happen, however, is still anyone's guess.

As of 7 p.m. this evening, about a dozen tents remained on Mellon Green and about two dozen Occupy Pittsburgh supporters milled around. Some played Frisbee and ate dinner.

There was no visible police presence.

Earlier today, attorneys of BNY Mellon requested an emergency injunction after several dozen protesters, tents and other belongings remained on site this afternoon, which judge Christine Ward ruled must be vacated by 11:56 a.m. today.

"Certain Defendants also continue to occupy and camp on BNY Mellon Green, thereby preventing BNY Mellon from closing BNY Mellon Green as permitted by the order," Ward wrote.

Her order asks that the sheriff "promptly enforce" her Feb. 2 order to "remove all Defendants remaining in violation of the Court's Feb. 2 order, and shall promptly remove, or facilitate and assist Plaintiff's in removing, all tents, camping equipment and stored personal items from Plaintiff's property known as BNY Mellon Green…"

"This probably means the end is near. We're just not sure how near," said Marvin Fein, an attorney representing Occupy Pittsburgh, after Ward's ruling.

"This was an issue between the sheriff and the bank," said Mike Healey, another attorney for Occupy. "We're not surprised."

We have a call into Sheriff William Mullen's office and will update when we hear back. During the hearing, the sheriff's department attorney, Lisa Michel, said it would be up the department's discretion as to when they would oust the campers.

Earlier in the day, as the deadline drew near, about 100 occupiers held a press conference to declare the occupation a victory.

"It's 11:56! We're still here!" announced Jeff Cech, who, along with many other campers, said he planned to peaceably disperse. "You cannot evict an idea whose time has come."

"Just because we're losing this camp doesn't mean we're giving up. We're not going away," said Samey Lee, a Point Park student who said she had been camping regularly since Occupy took over the park on Oct. 15. "There are so many issues out there bigger than this camp. [W]e can do good without this camp. The symbol isn't 100 percent necessary anymore."

Lee and other protesters pointed out other causes they planned to rally behind — transit and health care rallies are already scheduled for later today and next week.

Others seemed intent on staying; in the middle of the park's chained-in fountain, a group of protesters sat with a tent. Others built a massive Trojan horse out of wooden pallets bearing signs like "This is only the beginning."

Reporting contributed by Chris Young.

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