Occupy members like John Mills, of St. Louis, testified that the tents that they had erected in Kiener Plaza were a vital part of the protest, and a symbol of the homes that had been foreclosed upon.
Mills also said that the tents and the overnight occupation of the park were vital to maintain the sense of community and participate in meetings and discussions with those who might not be able to show up during the day.
"Occupying the public space is the message," Mills said.
Associate City Counselor Don Dylewski repeatedly told Jackson that protesters were only being asked to move to the sidewalks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and that the ordinance was narrowly crafted to protect the public’s access to parks and safety and sanitary concerns about overnight use.
Late Friday night, protesters also lost their bid for a temporary restraining order shortly before police moved in to clear Kiener Plaza of tents and personal belongings and several dozen protesters were arrested.
After the ruling, Cheryl Compton, who also testified, called it “bogus.”
Compton, 50, complained that protesters had not been given a chance to put on a full case and that Jackson had not looked at the issue fairly.
Protesters had testified that being barred from the park overnight had been a blow to both attendance and spirit.
But Compton, a certified nursing assistant who is now homeless, said, “I think we’re gonna get stronger now because we’ll have more passion.”