Authorities in Arizona arrested nearly 100 people after two separate protests in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The 53 arrests in Tucson and 46 in Phoenix on Saturday night came hours after peaceful protests against financial institutions as part of a series of such demonstrations across the country. Police said demonstrators in each city failed to leave parks at curfew.
Phoenix police said protesters marched from a downtown rally to a park that had a posted 10:30 p.m. closing time.
“As the park closing hour passed, many of the demonstrators refused to leave,” said police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump, adding that officers told the protesters “to leave or be subject to arrest.”
Crump said “a large group remained and refused to leave the park,” resulting in 46 arrests for criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
“Most of those arrested were passive in nature and no injuries were reported to either officers or demonstrators,” he said.
In Tucson, about 100 miles south of Phoenix, police said 53 demonstrators were arrested after they remained in a park after the 10:30 p.m. closing time. An estimated 150 protesters were at the park at the time and they were told they would be arrested if they didn’t leave, said Sgt. Matt Ronstadt, a Tucson police spokesman.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor addressed the remaining demonstrators after the closing time passed and officers began issuing criminal citations for remaining in a city park after-hours.
Ronstadt said no force was used during the citation process and all 53 were released pending a court appearance. The Tucson rally drew an estimated 500 people; about 1,000 people attended the Phoenix event.
Phoenix protester Davin Wright, 31, described the scene at the park as generally peaceful, but said police acted roughly during some initial arrests.
“Anyone who thought they were going to be crunching skulls — it’s not going to happen,” he said.
Groups have been turning out across the country to express anger over costly health care and rising unemployment, and to cast blame on corporate interests for the economic pain they say all but the wealthiest Americans have endured since the financial meltdown.