Occupy Austin evicted from City Hall

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by JADE MINGUS

KVUE

Posted on February 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 4 at 9:11 PM

AUSTIN — At 9:30 p.m. Friday night the City of Austin notified Occupy Austin demonstrators they had to leave.

Protesters debated on where to go next and gathered their belongings.

"I take two minutes of a break to have a slice of pizza, and I get frantic text messages, they are evicting us," a demonstrator said.

Michelle Millette is among the Occupy Austin group, who has had a presence at City Hall since October.

"Now we're finding out less than 30 minutes before arrests begin that everybody needs to clear out," Millette said.

The mood grew tense as roughly 30 Austin police officers lined up to move the demonstrators. They were enforcing a new city policy put in place Thursday, banning people from City Hall property from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. It also bans storing tents and sleeping bags.  

Austin police arrested seven people on criminal trespass charges.

"We've had criminal activity take place, health issues, abusive language to some of our employees and rising costs to maintain the security," said assistant City Manager Michael McDonald.

According to McDonald, the city pays more than $110,000 every two weeks for Occupy Austin security. Overall, the Occupy movement has cost taxpayers $800,000, the city said.

Demonstrators walked away Friday night as police looked on. The city bused homeless demonstrators to a temporary shelter, ending a four-month long encampment at Austin City Hall.

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