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51 Arrested As Police Clear Out Occupy San Diego, ACLU Wants All Charges Against Them Dropped

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While Los Angeles politicians have started to tell protesters camped on City Hall's lawn that they might be overstaying their welcome, our Californian neighbors to the North in Oakland and the South in San Diego are really struggling with police efforts to shut down a 24/7 presence by protesters.

This morning police cleared out Occupy San Diego, and arrested 51 stragglers after they were told to skedaddle from the encampment at Civic Center Plaza and Children’s Park where they have made their home for three weeks.

The reasons police gave were that conditions were getting unsanitary: too much human and dog feces, urine and litter. Chief William Lansdowne told the Associated Press that negotiations with demonstrators had broken down and had stopped cooperation. This morning at 2 a.m. campers were given their marching orders. The San Diego Police Department tore down the encampment equipped in riot gear, but they avoided using tear gas, injuring anyone or otherwise creating any scenes that made Oakland's response so notorious.

City workers hosed off the sidewalk (Voice of San Diego has pictures of the aftermath) and told protesters that they are free to return, if they leave the camping gear at home. That sort of misses the point of the whole "occupation" trend, and protesters vowed to return: "The police were completely out of line," protest leader Ray Lutz told the Los Angeles Times. "This insidious show of force has only energized our movement. We're going to be even stronger."

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In the meantime, the ACLU wants all of those charges dropped against the 51 protesters who refused to budge from their occupation, because the organization said many of the protesters may have to spend several nights in jail until they are able to make bail.

"Historically, the San Diego Police Department has managed protest activity exceedingly well, with a focus on accommodation of speech in the broader public interest," Kevin Keenan, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties, told the Los Angeles Times. He added: "Overnight presence is fundamental to the political message of Occupy San Diego."

Occupy San Diego protesters went to protest a transportation plan during the day and they're planning a sleep-in tonight at the Civic Center around 8pm, according to San Diego CityBeat.