(Adds quotes, details from media conference from second paragraph.)
Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Police shut Occupy Boston’s encampment at about 5 a.m. today, arresting 46 protesters after Mayor Thomas M. Menino ordered their eviction from parkland in Dewey Square.
Menino praised police handling of the remaining demonstrators who defied his order. He added that the park belongs to the citizens and the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that oversees it. “You have your land back,” the mayor said.
Boston Police chose not to shut down the camp on Dec. 8, when more than 1,500 people joined protesters as the mayor’s midnight deadline loomed. “We wanted to avoid confrontation,” Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. The raid occurred almost 30 hours after the deadline. The occupation lasted 10 weeks.
He said officers support some of the Occupy movement’s issues. “They’re getting information out there that needs to get out. A lot of us are sympathetic to the things they’re saying and it’s important for us to protect their First Amendment rights, but also protect the general public,” Davis said.
Davis praised officers for showing “remarkable restraint” during the protest, which began in September in Boston. He also gave Occupy Boston members high marks.
“There has to be a recognition that the men and women who were out there protesting worked with us,” Davis said.
Protesters sat in a circle with their arms linked as more than 100 officers descended on the camp. Some were singing as they were arrested and carried away by police.
“This morning, we moved slowly and methodically,” said Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. “We’ve had excellent communication with these individuals and we give them credit.”
Driscoll said 32 men and 14 women were arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. One member of Occupy Boston’s media team, who broadcast live on the Internet during the raid, called the arrests “soft-handed” and thanked the police for not using pepper spray or excessive force.
An Occupy Boston statement issued today said, “You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. Boston Occupiers will persist in rejecting a world created by and for the 1 percent. We will continue to challenge Wall Street’s occupation of our government.”
Garbage trucks quickly arrived and workers began clearing away remnants of the camp.
The city spent more than $1 million on police overtime and other expenses associated with handling the encampment.
A handful of Occupy Boston protesters stood outside police headquarters this morning with signs. The group plans to hold a meeting on Boston Common tonight.
--Editors: Mike Millard, Sylvia Wier.
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