Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Declaring a victory, members of Occupy Pittsburgh left Mellon Green where they had been camping for nearly four months.
Occupiers had been camping in the space since Oct. 15 and were evicted by an Allegheny County judge on Feb. 2. The fact they remained nearly two days after a judge ruled Monday for the Sheriff's department to enforce the eviction, campers said, signified a victory.
"We leave this space with our heads held high," said Occupy member Nathaniel Glosser. "We brought a giant spotlight on the problem and who has caused those problems."
One held a sign that read "Victory;" another said "Thank you Sheriff Mullen." As a handful of police watched from Ross Street, Occupy supporters shared their stories for getting involved and decried the court order that evicted them.
"What we learned," said Paul O'Hanlon, "is there is no place to peacefully assemble in this country."
A black flag, dented steel garbage can, lawn chairs and tiny pine tree were left atop a concrete fountain fenced off in the center of the park. Most personal possessions appeared to be gone and among items that remained were stacks of wooden pallets, and posters bearing "99%" scattered in bushes. A Trojan horse, made of wooden pallets and standing nearly 20-feet high, was decked in signs that read "Rise Up."
A dozen tents were left on the muddied parklet owned by banking giant BNY Mellon, and will remain, said Occupier Nigel Parry, to force BNY Mellon "to have to contract someone to tear them down with their bare hands. They symbolize the homes and families that have been foreclosed on by the bank."
As the press conference ended, about 30 protestors marched from the park chanting "out of the park and into the streets."
They meant that literally.
Upon leaving Mellon Green, roughly 30 Occupiers began marching south in the middle of Grant Street, slowing late rush-hour traffic to a crawl and prompting numerous horn blows from drivers trying to get home for dinner.
After the protesters turned right onto the Boulevard of the Allies, the inevitable police sirens sounded. One police car, lights flashing, quickly pulled up behind a group of about 20 Occupiers still marching in the middle of the road. "Get out of the street!" the officer announced.
Most of the protesters immediately heeded the command, but it took a few more additional calls from the officer -- and a verbal threat of arrest -- to convince the last couple of remaining holdouts to get onto the sidewalk.
As the march continued along the Boulevard of the Allies, police presence grew. A few more officers arrived -- a couple in police cars and one on a motorcycle -- to follow the protesters.
At about 6:30 p.m., the demonstration ended quietly at the heart of Market Square. One protester announced that Occupy would be convening at 7 p.m. inside the United Steelworkers building to discuss the future of the movement, including upcoming actions.
As the protesters began to disperse, one Occupier turned to a City Paper reporter and asked, confusedly, "Is that it?"
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