BERKELEY (CBS SF) – About seven tents remain at the Occupy Berkeley encampment in Civic Center Park Thursday evening, according to a spokesman for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

The encampment had grown to more than 100 tents in recent weeks but had declined to about 20 tents as of Thursday morning after Berkeley police recently began distributing notices saying that the park closes at 10 p.m. and anyone found camping there after that time would be required to remove their tents.

Nils Moe, a spokesman for Bates, said most protesters at the park have left voluntarily.

KCBS’ Bob Butler Reports:

However, he said, “There are a few stragglers who are sitting and waiting.”

Earlier on Thursday, Berkeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said police would monitor the situation in the park and continue to do “walk-throughs” there but declined to say if police will arrest protesters who remain there after 10 p.m. Thursday.

“We don’t share our tactical plans and we will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis,” Kusmiss said.

She said, “We will react to how participants behave.”

Kusmiss said two protesters were arrested overnight when protesters clashed with police officers and Public Works Department employees who were removing abandoned tents from the park.

Bates said in a statement that he believes the Occupy Wall Street movement “has done this country a great service, by pointing out the disparity between the very rich and the rest of us.”

But he said, “The encampment in Civic Center Park has lately become a health and safety problem. There has been an attempted rape, arrests for having knives and a gun, and numerous fights, including an assault with a two-by-four.”

He also said three cases of food poisoning have occurred.

Bates said the city recently told the campers that it needs to enforce its regulations pertaining to health and safety in the park.

He said, “We thank the majority of the people who have voluntarily left and hope the handful of others will follow their lead. It would be great to declare victory and move on together to realizing the important goals of equity, and of making government work for all of us.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mike, a protester who declined to give his last name, said he and a small group of others plan to stay in the park despite the city’s warning.

“We’re not finished,” he said. “Our right to peaceably assemble should not be abridged.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. dbarco says:

    The hooded and masked guy interviewed on Channel 7 news was complaining about the police action and had he shown his face, it would have impressed me more. He is just a criminal and does not have the credability a non-masked demonstrator would have.

    1. John McMahan says:

      Maybe that is the point. Today we judge people too much by the way they look or their wealth. I have not been able to tell if a person is a thief if they are rich or pore. True the rich may not take your change but they can be, and most likely looking for something they can use, or they are perverse in some way (Rich or Pore). What gets to me is the rich thinking they are so good, and better than me that they should own 100,000 acres of land, 10 houses, and 20 cars, when I have to go homeless, hungry, and walk everywhere I have to go so they can do this. 9/11 was about the same thing, people that feel it’s their right to still, lie, and cheat, for it’s all good if we call it capitalism.

      1. John McMahan says:

        Why do you think the world trade center was one of the targets?

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