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City asks RI protesters for date to leave park

October 21, 2011

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The city's public safety commissioner said Friday he wants the Occupy Providence protesters to tell him when they plan to leave the downtown park where they have been camping out since last weekend.

Commissioner Steven Pare said he met Thursday with several activists and asked them for a date they would consider leaving. He said he would like to avoid conflict and having to make arrests, but that their stay can't continue "indefinitely. They are camping without a permit.

"We'll work them with them though the city does need an answer and we can't wait for weeks for on end," Pare said. "Whatever it is we'll deal with it."

Pare said the activists he met with indicated they planned to discuss his request with the other protesters. He added he is willing to give them time to work out a consensus and provide a response. Pare said it is possible the protestors will move to another site.

Burnside Park, where the encampment is set up, must have its fountain and irrigation system readied for winter, Pare said. He added the protesters are damaging the grass. Pare also said a public bathroom being used by the activists is closing for renovations.

If the protesters do not leave, Pare said he will consider asking the courts to evict them from the park. He said arrests are a last resort.

Occupy Providence did not immediately respond.

The city and the protesters have had a cooperative relationship to date, with no arrests or clashes reported.