CHICAGO — Police arrested about 130 Occupy Chicago protesters early Sunday morning after the group returned to Grant Park and tried to maintain a camp in the park after its closing time.
Police estimated that the crowd that showed up for a rally in downtown Chicago earlier in the evening peaked at around 3,000 people.
As the 11 p.m. closing approached, more than 100 people decided to stay in Congress Plaza in the park as several hundred more moved onto a nearby sidewalk or across Michigan Avenue, off park district property. Police announced several times that anyone who remained in the park would be arrested, and by midnight, about 100 people remained in the plaza, which had been cordoned off with pol ice barricades.
The plaza was cleared by about 2:40 a.m., with about 130 people arrested, said Central Police District Cmdr. Christopher Kennedy. A few hundred people remained on sidewalks on the east and west sides of Michigan Avenue for a short time after the arrests ended, but most left by about 3 a.m.
Those taken into custody were taken away in police vans and sheriff’s department buses for booking at police district stations.
Saturday night, during the rally in Congress Plaza that preceded the arrests, protesters made speeches talking up the cause and declared their event peaceful.
Speakers said they have no intention of leaving. Some speakers didn’t give a name, referring to themselves as “one of the 99 percent.”
“When I am asked to leave, I will not go far, and I will be back,” one young man declared to loud applause. “The occupation is not leaving.”
Occupy Chicago is part of the larger that includes Occupy Wall Street and is targeting what participants see as undue corporate influence in government. The group has been protesting continuously in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago since Sept. 23.