Miami-Dade County evicts Occupy Miami protesters

Protesters have been on location since Oct. 15

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - It was a muted end to the Occupy Miami encampment on Tuesday night.

Miami-Dade County had served protesters with an eviction notice, forcing them to leave the West Lawn of the Stephen P. Clark County Building by sundown or face arrest for trespassing. 

By the time the 5 p.m. deadline was reached, most of those living in the camp had packed up and moved out while a few stood their ground, barking slogans into megaphones.

Miami-Dade police officers wearing riot gear were seen moving in on the remaining protesters about an hour after the eviction notice was given.

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The order to vacate the premises became public when Occupy Miami organizers Tweeted a link to this Facebook message:

"Hey, insomniacs. Won't be much sleep at the Occupy Miami campsite tonight. There's been some restructuring of the camp. There will be more in the morning. Quite a few people have cleared out but others have come. I'm sure there will be more of this later on as well. Word is the police are coming to remove us at 5pm any way they deem fit. All leftover personal property will be declared abandoned and confiscated and destroyed. We burned the eviction notice. Time things got serious over here. We've decided to take a stand and not let them take our occupied territory so easily. We hope to see others stand with us. WHO'S STREETS? OUR STREETS! WHO'S PARK? OUR PARK!"

They also stated they are planning an "all-day teach in" at the site they call "Peace City." 

The protesters have been at that location since Oct. 15. They've been requesting a permit every two weeks as required, but the county recently denied to latest permit request, citing that the camp is now unsanitary.

Police said they have made 14 arrests in the past three weeks, most for disorderly conduct.

"Drinking every night, fighting every night -- this is not Occupy Miami. This is a place where the most rude, homeless people have come to camp out," said Salvation Army Chaplain Domonic Shaw. "I call it a gypsy crash pad."

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is offering to move people to shelters and buy out-of-towners bus tickets home.

"From our point of view, encampments are never a good thing, especially if there are no waste facilities here," said David Raymond, of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

Protester Jared Chase is visiting Occupy Miami from Occupy Boston. He told Local 10's Christina Vazquez he agrees with Miami-Dade County and police that a criminal element has been causing problems in what they call "Peace City."

"The eviction notice was kind of a blessing in disguise," said Chase. "Police have done us a favor. The elements we wanted to be removed have now packed up and left."

While he thinks those people should be removed, he doesn't think the rest should all be kicked out. Shortly after the interview, he began making signs that read "Bring It." He plans to stay after sundown and is willing to be arrested for trespassing to further "the cause."

"'Have to go' and 'will go' are two things," he said. "We plan on staying."

But Joseph Uscinski, political science professor at University of Miami, tells Local 10 the Occupy movement hasn't done anything to advance the national dialogue about income and social inequality. He said people have been, "talking about that at the same rate that they were talking about it before." 

"These people are hardcore communists and anarchists. It's about time they get kicked out. Protesting is a right, but living in a tent is not. If they want to go live in a tent in their back yard and protest, that's great," Uscinski said.

But, he said when someone decides to set up camp on public land there are conditions. If the county has denied their latest permit request, as they have done, then it is time for the protesters to go. 

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