Time may be running out for OccupySTL encampment
Even as it launched three simultaneous protests against Bank of American in downtown St. Louis today, OccupySTL may lose its home base soon.
The protestors have been camping at the west end of Kiener Plaza for several weeks, including the Major League Baseball playoffs and a visit to the area by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
During an appearance earlier this week on St. Louis on the Air, Mayor Francis Slay hinted that the city would soon move to take action.
"We are respecting their First Amendment right, but they need to respect other people's rights as well," Slay said. They cannot continue to monopolize a park indefinitely."
In a blog post this morning, Slay said the city had tried to take a hands-off approach to dealing with the protestors.
"The participants in the nation’s Occupy movements, including those in St. Louis, are saying some important things about the direction of the country. I support their right to say them. ... From the first week they arrived in Kiener Plaza, I have reminded the people who have gathered there to obey the law or accept the consequences – citations, arrest – of not doing so. That is the basic formula for civil disobedience in this country. In the first week they arrived in Kiener Plaza, I have reminded the people who have gathered there to obey the law or accept the consequences – citations, arrest – of not doing so. That is the basic formula for civil disobedience in this country. In the intervening weeks, some arrests have been made; but, for the most part, the City’s ordinances regarding encampments in parks have not been enforced."
But, the post continues, complaints about the encampment have risen over the last few days. The mayor's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, said three individuals were arrested for public intoxication. Some had outstanding warrants on other charges.
Rainford would not give a timeframe for when the city might begin to take action against protestors, or what means officials would use. When asked if the move to clear the encampment was connected to the lighting of the city's Christmas tree on Nov. 18, Rainford replied, "Draw your own conclusions," then added that there were other people who would like to use the park as well.