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Police to Occupy Chicago Protestors: Keep Moving or Move On

By Chris Bentley in News on Sep 27, 2011 3:40PM

Chicago police told Occupy Chicago protesters last night that the group’s ongoing “occupation” of the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank was unlawful. Around 9 p.m., six police vehicles arrived to inform the protesters, who have been camping on the street downtown since Friday, that they could not sleep on the sidewalk.

“We’re not telling them they have to leave,” said Sergeant Luke McKee, who added the group was among the most civil of the hundreds of protest crowds he had dealt with over the years.

But to remain in front of the Federal Reserve, McKee said, they would have to keep moving. Tensions were high upon the arrival of the police, in light of arrests and police clashes that turned violent over the weekend for Occupy Wall Street — the demonstration that has inspired protests in more than 30 cities across the country.

By design, Occupy Chicago has no formal leader or representative. The protesters convened several “general assemblies” to discuss and vote on how to react to the police orders.

“What we want is democracy, and it’s interesting because in the process we have to work out democracy for ourselves,” said Joseph DiCola, 21, a Loyola student.

At the request of the protesters, the non-profit National Lawyers Guild appointed an attorney, Jerry Boyle, to the group to act as a legal observer and provide advice.

By midnight the protesters compromised with police: Officers promised protection from parking tickets for those who spent the night in their cars. Most, however, did not sleep for more than half an hour, DiCola said.

The loosely affiliated group of demonstrators has been active in Chicago since Friday, protesting a mélange of issues from the legal doctrine of corporate personhood to corruption in the financial sector. But one common thread is a distaste for apathy, whatever the cause.

“The only change that we can believe in is the change we make ourselves,” said Sarah Whitford, 26, a legal secretary.

Despite rain nearly every day since the protests began, the group has grown to a few dozen overnight campers, with many more appearing during the day. They have garnered almost 3,000 Twitter followers.