Photographs by Gavin Lesnick
Police arrest Occupy Little Rock protester Greg Deckelman Wednesday afternoon, May 16, 2012.
Originally published May 16, 2012 at 07:10a.m., updated May 16, 2012 at 03:31p.m.
LITTLE ROCK 2:42 p.m. update
Dozens of police officers moved into the Occupy Little Rock camp site Wednesday afternoon, arresting four members who refused to leave the area.
The protesters had been camped out since October, but were informed last month that their permit to do so on a city-owned lot at Fourth and Ferry Streets would expire May 16 at 7 a.m.
Police ultimately moved in seven hours after the permit had expired, first shutting down the surrounding streets and then taping off the entire parking lot.
The arrests came minutes after Little Rock Police Department Chief Stuart Thomas arrived on the scene, sitting down to talk with the four protesters who remained in the area.
Police Department spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said Thomas asked the four to leave the area. When they refused, they were arrested. Officials identified the four as Greg Deckelman, Glen Miller, Jennifer Pierce and Ceecee Sloan-Cicirello.
"We expected no problems with Occupy," Hastings said shortly after the four arrested were driven away in a police van. "They're a great bunch of people, they have been very easy to work with and we hope to continue to work with them. We hope they can find another place to go and continue their statement."
Each of the four was charged with failure to disperse under the disorderly conduct statute, a misdemeanor for which they were booked and cited at the Pulaski County Jail, Hastings said.
Officials at the jail said all four were booked around 2:30 p.m. and released roughly a half hour later.
Adam Lansky, an Occupy organizer who was not arrested, said the police action was a clear violation of the protesters' rights.
"It's tragic, it's shocking," he said. "I feel betrayed. Really that's the best word for it."
More than 30 officers responded to the scene. Hastings said that many were necessary because police must clean up the remaining tents and other items left behind. Police say the property will be stored so the protesters can later retrieve it.
The city said the protesters needed to be evicted so the lot can be used for bus parking during the busy summer tourist season, including Riverfest.
2:03 p.m. update:
The four remaining protesters were arrested around 2 p.m.
The four, who included spokesperson Greg Deckelman, were handcuffed and loaded into a police van shortly after Chief Thomas sat down to speak with them.
1:55 p.m. update:
Police have taped off the parking lot where four protesters remain in anticipation of arrest.
Police Chief Stuart Thomas pulled up a chair and sat down to speak with them. No arrests have been made yet.
1:41 p.m. update:
Police have arrived at the Occupy Little Rock protest site.
Several officers arrived after 1:30 p.m. and began barricading roads in the area, but have not yet engaged with any of the protesters.
10:45 a.m. update:
Occupy Little Rock members are still gathered at a downtown Little Rock parking lot nearly four hours after a permit for the protest expired.
About 20 members of the group are gathered on or near the parking lot at 4th and Ferry Streets where the demonstration has been held since October. Some members gathered in a small shady area by a tree while others worked to dismantle remaining tents on the property.
Police have said they will arrest group members who stay at the site, though there is no indication when the arrests will occur. A spokesmen for the group said about nine people anticipate being arrested.
The group had been protesting under an open-ended permit, but police last month issued a new one specifying a 7 a.m. May 16 end date.
7:44 a.m. update:
A permit allowing Occupy Little Rock to camp out in a downtown parking lot expired at 7 a.m. with about 30 group members still at the site.
Occupy LR awaits arrestsWatch Video
Greg Deckelman, a spokesman for the group, said about nine people - including him - would be arrested when police show up to clear the area at some point Wednesday. No officers were present as the deadline passed and it wasn't clear when the arrests might occur.
"It's a little sad that it's had to come to this," Deckelman said minutes before the 7 a.m. deadline. "I thought we could work out something with the city. Maybe we still can, but, I tell you what, it didn't have to come to this."
Several tents remained set up on the lot with various other items still strewn through the area. Occupiers shared breakfast and talked about the movement in speeches through a megaphone while awaiting the police action.
"You are here for our TEA Party - totally egregious eviction and arrest party," one member said, advising the small crowd that police were expected any minute.
Occupy has been camped out since the fall - first outside the Clinton Presidential Center and later at its current site at 4th and Ferry Streets.
The group, which pushes for an end to corporate influence on politics, increased banking regulations and a host of other issues, will continue even after the breakup of the campsite, Deckelman said.