PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — With the passing of a second deadline to decamp, city workers moved into Lincoln Park on Friday to remove the remnants of Occupy Maine, bringing the four-month-old encampment to an end.
Demonstrators vowed to continue to call attention to corporate greed and economic inequality.
Six tents remained in place as Friday’s 8 a.m. deadline came and went, but only two tents were still up by the time city workers arrived at 1 p.m. with a front-end loader to remove debris and belongings that were left behind. Four police officers were on hand, but there were no arrests.
“We’re pleased that there was a voluntary end to the encampment and that it resolved itself peacefully,” city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said.
Occupy Maine has touted itself as the nation’s longest-running Occupy encampment, starting two weeks after the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York.
Last week, a judge denied an injunction that would’ve allowed the demonstrators to stay. They were supposed to leave Monday but received a four-day extension from the city.
Other Occupy-inspired encampments already have dissolved. A group camped out at Augusta’s Capitol Park lost a fight in federal court, and a group at Bangor Public Library voluntarily left the grounds.
In Portland, the campers have been in Lincoln Park since Oct. 3, with as many as 70 tents at one point. On Friday, six tents, a plastic table, several signs and a snowman were all that remained as day broke.
At one point, a man shouted at the demonstrators and criticized an activist for burning a U.S. flag in the park on Monday. Some passing vehicles shouted at the demonstrators, with one motorist exclaiming “Move it out!” and “Adios!”
The two tents that remained in place when eight city workers arrived Friday afternoon were being used by homeless people, who scrambled to remove their belongings.
Occupy Maine, which has a website, weekly television show and office space in Portland, plans to continue getting its message out through other means.
“This ain’t stopping us,” said Deese Hamilton, who watched Friday along with a half-dozen other demonstrators as the encampment was dismantled.
In ordering the demonstrators out of the park on Dec. 15, Portland officials cited concerns about disturbances, public safety and sanitation. Occupy Maine insisted that the demonstration was constitutionally protected free speech but failed to convince a judge to let them stay while a lawsuit plays out.
At least one of the demonstrators, Jen Rose, planned to skirt the city’s order to vacate the park, which is supposed to be closed between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
Since it’s legal to pass through the park, she created a mobile tent consisting of a dolly with a plastic box and a wooden frame topped by a tent. Rose said she would roll it through the park, but she wouldn’t characterize it as civil disobedience.
“Technically, it’s more like civil annoyance,” said Evan McVeigh, another of the demonstrators.
McVeigh acknowledged that the park was in rough shape after months of camping and said the group has plans to plant grass and to plant flowers. Clegg said the city delayed replanting the park last fall, and welcomes the group’s help in the spring.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.