Society

Police Evict Occupy New Orleans Before Court Hearing

| by Michael Allen

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey says he isn't happy about an early morning police eviction of protesters and homeless people from Duncan Plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana, where they had been camped since early October.

The police evicted the Occupy New Orleans protesters before a court hearing on Tuesday on whether or not Judge Zainey would issue a temporary restraining order to allow the protesters to stay.

However, before dawn on Tuesday, about 150 officers marched into the encampment across from City Hall, forcing an estimated 150 occupants out in a peaceful eviction that sometimes drew loud complaints.

Bill Quigley, a lawyer for Occupy New Orleans, said the move was a surprise and that city officials had said they would not evict the occupants until after Tuesday's court hearing.

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Quigley called the city's move "an insult to the judiciary, an insult to the constitution" and will seek civil and criminal sanctions against Mayor Mitch Landrieu and police chief Ronal Serpas.

Mayor Landrieu had warned Friday that it was time for the around-the-clock encampment to end. Police had been distributing flyers warning that the park could no longer be used as a campground and, on Tuesday around 4 a.m., began ringing the park with barricades in preparation for the eviction.

"This was a display of a very well organized, well thought out, and now well executed effort," Mayor Landrieu said at a Tuesday morning news conference.

Mayor Landrieu said police and representatives of the city had gone through the camp several times a day since Friday telling people they must leave and handing out flyers telling them to leave.

"You can see from the way this was conducted it was very different from what happened around the country," Landrieu said, referring to recent violent clashes between police and protesters in other cities.