Occupy Hartford was notified by police Tuesday to disband its two-month-old encampment amid safety concerns after reports of drug use and a sexual assault at the site.
Police informed the group that members must pack up their tents, tables and other equipment by 6 p.m. and leave. The site, dubbed "Turning Point Park" by protesters, is at the corner of Broad and Farmington streets and is public property.
Other Occupy groups around the country have been evicted in the last week, including a group in New Orleans earlier Tuesday. The nationwide movement began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan against what protesters say is corporate greed and the unfair influence of the wealthy on the government.
Andrea Comer, a spokeswoman for Mayor Pedro Segarra, said city officials have accommodated the Occupy group by letting participants camp on the property, but recent safety concerns made it necessary to enforce rules against overnight stays.
"While the mayor certainly supports anyone's right to protest or petition or organize, the issue for him became about public safety," she said. "He's hoping now they will come together and think about the way to continue the social movement elsewhere in a productive way."
Several police cars were at the downtown Hartford site at midday Tuesday, and Occupy Hartford organizers announced the impending deadline on their Facebook page with a request for people to come to Turning Point Park if they had items they needed to collect by 6 p.m.
The Facebook page organizers told others they expected to "get through this and survive, and even thrive, as other occupations have."
"Regardless of your feelings about this eviction, we know from experience it is going to happen. Let's keep the people of Hartford in mind and make sure we behave with grace and thoughtfulness," their message read.
Some Occupy Hartford protesters tried to move their camp to another site last weekend, saying they wanted to avoid individuals who were engaging in drug use and other unwelcome activities. Police also are investigating reports that a man groped and forcibly kissed a woman in her tent.