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Occupy the Midwest participants arrested, more gatherings planned

10:26 AM, Mar 16, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - St. Louis City officials said police acted appropriately when they arrested Occupy the Midwest participants for violating the curfew by trying to set up an encampment at Compton Hill Reservoir Park.

Police said officers spoke to a group of Occupy the Midwest protesters near Grand and Russell at 9:15 p.m. Thursday and advised them that the park curfew required them to leave by 10 p.m. The protesters were observed setting up tents in the park.

Additional officers came to the park at the start of the curfew and asked the protesters to leave.

Police said the protesters yelled and cursed at police as officers asked them to leave. The protesters walked into the intersection, which police said blocked traffic on Grand.

Police said they arrested 15 protesters. Thirteen people were arrested for general peace disturbance and failure to obey reasonable order of an officer. Two protesters were also arrested for third-degree assault.

Police said someone smashed the windshield of a marked police vehicle during the disturbance.

Two protesters were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries.

NewsChannel 5 received a number of calls overnight from people claiming there were brutal attacks by police and unfair arrests.
City officials said Friday morning that they were baited by a small segment of the group looking to draw conflict and disrespect the city.

"Last night, a small group from the Occupy movement really slapped St. Louis in the face," said Public Safety Director Eddie Roth. "We have opened up our libraries, our meeting spaces. Our parks are available until 10-o'clock at night. A group of people here at Reservoir Park was unable to meet the basic order of honoring our curfews."

Roth said they have given the Occupiers multiple options to camp and speak out and that police acted accordingly.

Occupy the Midwest said Roth did not offer the organization an opportunity to camp in a public space.

City officials said they will enforce the 10 p.m. curfew during the four-day conference, and participants are not allowed to have any structures, including tents, erected in the park.

Several more gatherings are planned this weekend.

For the past six months, the group has been rallying across the country in protest of corporate greed.

The group will continue its planned protest against Peabody Energy on Friday.

Occupy is at odds with Peabody over its use of corporate tax breaks, which it claims takes funds from those who need it most, like St. Louis schools and social services.

Also Friday, Occupy protestors went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens to remonstrate against Monsanto Company.

Tom Helscher, a spokesman for Monsanto Corporate Affairs, released the following statement Friday afternoon:

"We respect each individual's right to express their point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us. The 21,000 people who work for Monsanto are involved in producing seed and technologies for farmers to help improve farm productivity and food quality. We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice and all production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers."

The group plans to fill Kiener Plaza at 4 p.m.

The occupiers have come to St. Louis to stage action against Bank of America, and are holding the first Midwest General Assembly under the Gateway Arch.

KSDK

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