Pepper spray used at San Diego 'Occupy' protest

October 17, 2011 - 4:31 PM
Wall Street Protest San Diego

A San Diego Police officer maces a demonstrator at the Civic Center Plaza Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 in San Diego. Police on Friday began removing about a half-dozen tents after warning demonstrators that their personal belongings couldn't stay in the Occupy San Diego camp. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego police on Friday used pepper spray to break up a human chain formed by anti-Wall Street demonstrators at a downtown plaza where they've camped for a week.

Police in the early morning began removing about a half-dozen tents after warning demonstrators their personal belongings couldn't stay in the Occupy San Diego camp. Demonstrators can continue protesting without the tents, tarps and tables, authorities said.

One man was arrested before 8 a.m. for interfering with a police officer after he sat down and refused to take away his tent, police Lt. Andra Brown said. After he and his tent were removed, other demonstrators erected another tent and formed a human chain around it.

Shortly before noon, officers pulled apart the protesters and used pepper spray to disperse them. No one was arrested or injured, although protesters said several demonstrators were suffering burning eyes from the pepper spray, assistant Chief Boyd Long said.

Michael Basillas, a 26-year-old college student, said protesters were regrouping to make a new plan. Many had moved to Balboa Park

He said police refused to negotiate with organizers about the removal orders. Police said they met with the organizers Thursday night to tell them they would need to remove their tents to allow the city to prepare for a weekend event at the civic center plaza.

"They chose just to force their way in," Basillas said.

The protest is in sympathy with demonstrations in New York and other cities to protest corporate influence on politics.