Boston became the latest big U.S. city to order protesters affiliated with the Occupy movement to abandon the park they have camped in for more than two months or face police action.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said on Thursday that the Occupy Boston protesters needed to leave the financial-district park by midnight (0500 GMT), a day after a state judge said they did not have the right to hold Dewey Square, across the street from the Boston branch of the Federal Reserve.
Several of the occupiers, who contend the U.S. economic system is no longer working to the benefit of most Americans, said they would comply with the order and had begun dismantling their tents by Thursday afternoon.
"I'm not going to stay here and let them arrest me. I can't afford to," said Ryan Peaslee, 32, who is from Hull, Massachusetts and said he gave up his apartment join the protest, but he too plans to pack up his things.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which started in New York's financial district in September, spread across the nation during the autumn, with camps sprouting up in cities including Philadelphia, Los Angles and Portland.
Officials in those cities have lost patience with the camps over the past month. Police cleared out camps in cities including New York and Los Angeles, in the latter case arresting some 300 people who refused to leave after more than 24 hours or warnings to go.
Howard Cooper, a Boston attorney who represented the protesters' legal efforts, was at the tent city and said arrangements were being made to have trucks arrive and take items to storage.
Not all members of the amorphous group, which has no leadership or official spokespeople, were ready to go. The OccupyBoston Twitter page carried a message calling on supporters to "come to camp tonight and help defend the First Amendment," referring to a passage in the U.S. Constitution that protects the right of free expression.
Boston police in October arrested about 100 protesters after the group briefly expanded into an adjacent portion of the city's Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. About a dozen uniformed officers were visible around the camp on Thursday, in line with the presence they have maintained at the site for the past few weeks. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing By Cynthia Osterman)
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