Thirty-eight "Occupy Austin" protesters were arrested outside City Hall on Sunday during two confrontations with the Austin Police Department, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The confrontation began when police moved into the City Hall plaza to enforce new rules banning food tables between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The "Occupy Austin" protesters said they had asked for clarification about the timeline of the new rules, but the only clarification they received was the arrival of the police.
Some protesters attempted to block the police by locking arms and forming rings around the tables. Those protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.
“It seems we have had an unfortunate breakdown of communications,” Jonathan Cronin, "Occupy Austin" spokesperson, said in a statement. “Today’s actions of the APD seems entirely out of character from the good faith dealings we have had with city and police officials until now. Imposing these apparently without due process is unnecessary and inflammatory.”
Another confrontation occurred about an hour later, when police cleared the plaza for routine power-washing.
The demonstrators had previously agreed to vacate the plaza during the city’s thrice-weekly cleanings. Most of the "Occupy Austin" protesters moved to allow the cleaning, but about 100 protesters remained at City Hall.
"We steam clean the plaza for health and safety reasons three times a week," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told YNN. "The 'Occupy Austin' members have always been very cooperative. Tonight, it looks like a few people decided to exercise civil disobedience and have been arrested."
Following the arrests, Acevedo said city officials wanted to meet with representatives of the demonstration to work out a consensus about new rules for the group’s occupation.
Photo credit: Stephen C. Webster