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Early morning sweep pushes dozens of protesters from encampment

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 12:51pm

Baltimore police officers closed downtown streets overnight Monday as officers in riot gear cleared McKeldin Square, the plaza where Occupy Baltimore protesters built an encampment.

About 100 police officers converged at the square as a police helicopter flew above the scene.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office said Tuesday morning that there were no arrests or injuries.

The office estimated that about 30 people were removed, 18 of whom accepted services from a homeless shelter.

The mayor said it was finally time to enforce the city's anti-camping policy.

City police began dismantling the tents at the downtown encampment around 3 a.m.

The square had been "occupied" since October by participants of a nationwide movement mimicking Occupy Wall Street in New York City.

Some of the protesters also said they had expected to get kicked out, but they didn't know it would be early Tuesday.

"There were a couple problems that happened, but where doesn't it happen? It was very peaceful," one protester said.

"We were warned of many things in the past. We were waiting to see what the mayor would do about this and see how the police would react," added another.

"It's not what I expect from a democracy or America, which was built on the right to peaceably assemble and to voice dissenting opinions. That makes us stronger," another protester said.

City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the scene was "extremely peaceful, very, very civil."

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