Protesters react to arrests at Piatt Park

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - For the first time in two weeks, Piatt Park was not filled with protesters, but pressure washers. Friday the city closed the park for cleaning following a late night arrest of Occupy Cincinnati members who refused to leave the park after it closed.

Cincinnati Police officers arrested 23 people from the Occupy Cincinnati group. By Friday morning all but two were released from jail.

"Got put on a paddy wagon," protester Edward Elmore said. "[They] drove around to the police academy then back to the Justice Center. We had to wait for hours, and hours."

"Last night was exhilarating," Occupy supporter Jens Rasmussen said. "It was an incredible showing of solidarity, peacefulness and passionate democratic process."

"Hopefully people will see this and thinks it's wrong," Elmore said. "I think it's wrong that we got arrested just for being in a park."

Even still, he says next time he will likely heed police warnings and support the effort from a distance.

"I stood my ground, got arrested," Elmore said. "So if somebody else wants to do that that'd be great. I'm a full time student, I don't really have all the money in the world to be going in and out of jail."

While Rasmussen had to work Friday and therefore could not afford to be arrested the night before, he says he is one of many who will gladly take Elmore's place in the future..

"I don't have work on Monday so I can get arrested on Sunday," he said.

"It's a complete misconception that this movement is made up of lazy people or people who have nothing better to do," Rasmussen said. "That's not the case at all. This movement is made up of passionate people who see our government is serving corporate interest over the interest of serving people."

As for the cleaning, many protestors found it unnecessary and felt it was more about sending a message.

"They could do that at any time," argued Elmore. "I think they're just doing it as a way to keep us out longer."

"These allegations of uncleanliness or filth are completely unfounded," Rasmussen said. "We were sweeping and washing certainly multiple times every day."

City councilman Wayne Lippert, however, disagrees.

"I don't know that that's necessarily true because I've heard complaints from business owners, residents in the area, of the situation down there and it was deteriorating quickly," Lippert said.

The arrests took place after Cincinnati council members Leslie Ghiz, Amy Murray, And Wayne Llippert demanded that police arrest any protesters in the park after 10 p.m. Protestors had been receiving $105 citations.

Rasmussen believes the arrests have only served to embolden the movement.

"It is unfortunate that the city chose to arrest people but it is actually a gift that they have given us," Rasmussen said.

"It's not about what their message is, it's not about the protestors," Lippert argued. "It's about following the rules. They can go down there from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the next year I don't mind that."

A representative from the mayor's office says they have been informed that police will continue to enforce the curfew and arrest anyone who does not comply.

The City Manager's office could not be reached for comment.

Demonstrators began camping out in the park nearly two weeks ago as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York to protest corporate greed.

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