10 OccupySTL protesters arrested in St. Louis

By JIM SALTER

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police arrested nearly a dozen demonstrators with the group OccupySTL early Thursday for curfew violations at a downtown St. Louis park, after they ignored warnings to vacate the park by 10 p.m.

St. Louis police spokeswoman Katie O’Sullivan said 10 members of the group were arrested at 12:20 a.m. in Kiener Plaza. Colleen Kelly of OccupySTL said the number was 11 counting a homeless person who supports the movement.

O’Sullivan said there was no violence or resistance during the arrests.

By late morning, all but one of those arrested remained jailed, Kelly said. And she hinted that more arrests were possible in the days to come because the group feels it has the right to stay in the public park as long as it chooses.

“Our plan is to maintain a constant presence,” she said.

OccupySTL has conducted several demonstrations outside financial institutions, including a gathering of several dozen protesters Wednesday outside a downtown bank office as baseball fans passed by on the way to the Phillies-Cardinals playoff game at Busch Stadium. It is part of a movement in support of Occupy Wall Street in New York. Protesters have varied causes but have spoken largely about unemployment and economic inequality.

OccupySTL has a permit to gather at Kiener Plaza during the hours the park is open — 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. But in a posting on its website Tuesday, the group warned that police had issued a notice that “occupiers must vacate Kiener Plaza at 10pm tonight. They have threatened to issue citations to anyone who refuses to comply.”

By midnight, 65 to 100 members of the movement were gathered at Kiener Plaza when roughly two dozen police cars arrived. One of those arrested, Derek Wetherell, a 21-year-old student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said officers were polite and gave demonstrators the option of leaving or being arrested.

“I felt like being arrested was necessary to send a message that I’m not going to give up my ground and my right to stand up for my beliefs, wherever it may be,” Wetherell said.

O’Sullivan said it was the first time OccupySTL protesters have been arrested. Six protesters were given citations, but not arrested, Tuesday for a curfew violation at Kiener Plaza.

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