PORTLAND — One of the first encampments inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement is well on its way to being dismantled, though Portland officials decided Monday to allow campers another four days to remove 16 tents that remained on Monday.
Demonstrators who touted their tent city in Lincoln Park as the oldest remaining Occupy-style encampment vowed to continue the discussion that the movement started about corporate excesses and economic inequality.
“Just because the occupation is changing form doesn’t mean it’s going away,” said Heather Curtis, one of the campers, before she started hauling away her belongings.
The campers were supposed to be out of Lincoln Park by Monday morning and dismantled many tents over the weekend. But the city granted a request by the group’s attorney to give demonstrators until Friday to finish the cleanup.
The Portland demonstrators have been in Lincoln Park since Oct. 3 and have company in abandoning their encampments. A new wave of eviction orders has been issued in cities including Miami, Washington and Pittsburgh.
At one point, as many as 70 tents were set up in Lincoln Park, but that number had dropped to a couple dozen by the time a state judge last week declined to grant Occupy Maine’s request for injunction to prevent the city from enforcing an eviction notice issued on Dec. 15.
City officials cited concerns about disturbances, public safety and sanitation at the park, which is supposed to close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Occupy Maine, which already has office space elsewhere in the city, plans to continue get out its message through other means.
“You can only fight for some long and you realize at the end that it’s a new beginning,” said Deese Hamilton, one of the four named plaintiffs in the Occupy Maine lawsuit. Hamilton was homeless before joining with the Occupy protesters.
Occupy Maine started up two weeks after Occupy Wall Street demonstrators set up tents and began sleeping in New York’s Zuccotti Park, launching its first demonstration on Oct. 1 in Monument Square and moving to Lincoln Park two days later.
The Portland group described the Lincoln Park encampment as the longest-running occupation.
Other Occupy-related groups in Maine already dissolved. A group camped out at Augusta’s Capitol Park lost a fight in federal court, and a group at the Bangor Public Library voluntarily left the grounds.