Police cleared Occupy Baltimore protesters out of McKeldin Square in Baltimore early this morning in what was a largely nonviolent interaction between authorities and demonstrators.
The tents are gone and so are the protesters from the square, which is surrounded by the harbor's tall ships on one side and high-rise buildings -- many of them home to offices of national banks such as Bank of American and PNC Bank. Police officers and cleanup crews remain to remove the tents and other remnants of the encampment, which had occupied the square since October.
The protesters had requested a permit from the city to stay in the square, but that permit was denied by city officials. Removing the protesters was a far more peaceful operation than it has been in other cities, according to those at the scene.
"The police were very quiet," says Leo Zimmerman, who was camped in the square around 3:30 this morning when the police arrived. "They just mentioned to a couple of people, 'you have to tell people to get out.'"
Protesters knew this was not the usual visit from the police when they saw the reinforcements accompanying the officers that usually dealt with protesters.
"The different thing this time was they had 70 heavily armed riot police with helmets, face masks, and truncheons with them, and they were actually standing in a circle around the whole square," Zimmerman says.
The protesters say they will move to city hall and other locations to continue their demonstration.