CHICAGO » Anti-Wall Street demonstrators of the Occupy Chicago movement stood their ground in a downtown park in noisy but peaceful defiance of police orders to clear out, prompting at least 100 arrests early Sunday, authorities said.
Occupy Chicago spokesman Joshua Kaunert vowed after the arrests that protests would continue in the Midwest city.
"We’re not going anywhere. There are still plenty of us," Kaunert told The Associated Press after the arrests, which took police more than an hour to complete.
Elsewhere in the nation, police reported 11 arrests overnight in the Occupy Cincinnati protests. Police said those arrested had stayed in that city’s Fountain Square after Sunday’s 3 a.m. closing time and each was charged with criminal trespass.
In Chicago, police began taking people into custody just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Those arrested were led in groups to vans and two large white buses as others clamored to be arrested.
"Take me next! Take me next!" some shouted as police began the arrests. Others chanted as they were led away: "We’ll be back!"
Officers had begun placing metal barricades around the area of Chicago’s Grant Park known as Congress Plaza about 11:10 p.m. Saturday, minutes after the park had closed. Afterward, police then went through the crowd and warned people to leave or risk arrest for remaining in the closed park in violation of a city ordinance.
Several of the protesters who stayed inside the barricades in the park sat on the ground. Others locked arms as police circled and then began arresting people.
"One: We are the people! Two: We are united! Three: The occupation is not leaving!" demonstrators shouted. Others joined in from just outside the park.
Police said they made approximately 100 arrests early Sunday but did not have an exact count. Kaunert said he expected the final figure to be higher after some late arrests but police did not immediate return later calls for details.
Kaunert said none of those arrested had resisted.
"Everybody was very peaceful and smiling and there was no violence, though a lot of chanting," he said.
He urged authorities to let the people resume protesting peacefully against the perceived greed and other ills they see on Wall Street and elsewhere in corporate America. He noted it was the second straight weekend that arrests had been made in the park after 175 arrests the previous Sunday after protesters set up tents past public hours.
"The police came in and again took away our right to free speech and assembly," he said. "Several paddywagons left and they had two very large prison buses and those are gone now."
Paulina Jasczuk, a 24-year-old dental receptionist, watched as her boyfriend, Philip Devon, was led away in the night hours. She threw him a white sweater against the chill of a fall night in Chicago.
"I’m proud of everyone who got arrested tonight," she told AP, adding she hoped they would inspire more demonstrators to join in the movement in the weeks ahead.
Demonstrators were taken away one by one and handcuffed with white plastic ties and. Some on the scene shouted: "This is what democracy looks like!"
Drums banged and some people clanged on metal.
Jonathan Sumner, 25, of Chicago, watched the arrests from outside the park and began shouting at officers: "Why are you doing this?"
"It’s a sad day for the CPD" he said, referring to the Chicago Police Department.
Some said earlier that arrests only signal the importance of the Occupy movement.
"This movement will not be a serious movement until we take a stand, and getting arrested is just one way of taking a stand," said Max Farrar, 20, a junior political science major at DePaul University, speaking Saturday to a reporter.
About 1,500 people gathered for the protest that began Saturday. Demonstrators descended on the city park with hopes of making it the movement’s permanent home. The group had started in Chicago’s financial district before marching to the park.
Along the way, marchers chanted "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" and held signs that read "Greed Sucks" and "No War But The Class War" while police on horses blocked them from walking on the street on Michigan Avenue, leaving them with just the sidewalks to occupy.
Occupy Wall Street began a month ago in New York among a few young people, and has grown to tens of thousands around the country and the world.
In Cincinnati, Police Capt. Doug Wiesman said early Sunday that the 11 arrests carried out there were "straightforward" and without problems. A protester, Aaron Roco, told AP about 30 other protesters who remained on a sidewalk just outside the Cincinnati square during the police action weren’t arrested.