Reporting Levon Putney
TRENTON, NJ (AP / WCBS 880) - Participants aligned with the Occupy Wall Street protest have removed their tents from New Jersey’s World War II Memorial in Trenton after police told them they could not keep any “permanent structures” at the site.
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney In The NJ Capital
State police told the handful of protesters Thursday at the small memorial site to remove anything that could be considered permanent by Friday after the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs asked for assistance.
Protesters are free to stay. On Friday morning, there were only two.
A spokesman for state Attorney General Paula Dow said Friday that the Veterans Affairs Department is within its rights to enforce rules at the memorial that were already in place before the protest started on Oct. 6. The attorney general’s office represents the Veterans Affairs Department and oversees state police.
“It’s been very peaceful so far,” Dow spokesman Paul Loriquet said of the protesters.
Alexander Higgins, a 31-year-old blogger from Brick who has been at the site nearly every day since Oct. 6, said a state trooper arrived overnight and told the group to remove most of the material they had laying around or face arrest. He said they were told again Friday morning to remove their belongings or the items would be removed by sanitation workers.
After a night of rain, the tents and canopies had been taken down by Friday. Most of the protesters’ belongings were stuffed into large plastic tubs stacked neatly around the memorial, with the exception of an inner tube, and a few yoga mats and couch cushions strewn across marble benches. A generator was powering Higgins’ computer and live video stream of the site.
“These people are all very brave and doing what they feel is right for their country,” Eileen Smyth of Trenton told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. She has been stopping by daily.
“A lot of people got spooked as the police were out here. It’s [an] intimidation tactic, psychological thing. A lot of people took their own property,” Higgings told Putney.
“These are items people in a public park would bring with them on any given day to any public park,” Higgins said. “People go into parks and set up tables all the time. If we were playing chess at the table, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
Higgins, who has two small children and was laid off from two computer jobs at pharmaceutical companies recently, said he would continue protesting corporate greed as long as he could.
“These jobs are being shipped oversea so that they can be done, basically, by slave labor,” he said. “This country is no longer for the majority of people. It’s for the majority of money.”
In New York City, where the protests began, the site owner backed off ordering people out of Zuccotti Park in order to clean it after demonstrators said they feared the effort was merely a pretext to evict them.
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