A judge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has ordered the county sheriff to evict Occupy Pittsburgh protesters who have squatted since October 15 on a downtown park belonging to BNY Mellon Bank.
The sheriff, however, told the judge that he was not in any hurry to order his deputies to move in on the occupiers’ encampment, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (RELATED: Full coverage of Occupy Wall Street)
Reacting to the news that their attorney summed up by saying “it probably means the end is near,” some of the anti-capitalist radicals told the newspaper that they were preparing to “resist” and face arrest.
In a written ruling on Friday, Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward said the persistent protests have caused the bank “immediate and irreparable harm,” and declared that the park was not a public space as protesters have claimed. Instead, she wrote, it was ”intended to be reserved for future commercial development.”
Ultimately, she wrote, there is no zoning, legal or common law ground that “permits a group of people to take over someone else’s private property.”
Bank officials testified during a hearing last month, the Post-Gazette reported, that they were spending an additional $24,400 per week on security because of Occupy Pittsburgh, and that restoring the park will cost between $70,000 and $100,000.
In a video report, the newspaper showed protesters singing “We shall not be moved.” The footage also showed a two story-tall wooden “Trojan horse” erected by the protesters, with a sign that read “How is the war economy working for you??
“For four months we occupied land controlled [and] owned by a criminal institution,” one protester yelled during a videotaped news conference.
“We’re here to fight the corporate influence of our government,” another said.
A third activist, a well-dressed young female warned attendees that “losing it [the encampment] is not the end … it’s only the beginning of something new. And more change!”
During the January 10 court hearing, BNY Mellon Chairman Vincent Sands testified that his company only allowed Occupy Pittsburgh a presence on its park, called Mellon Green, because “we were frightened there could be confrontation.”
“We thought the best thing for employees and clients was to let them use the area,” he said before noting that eventually the bank “thought we were losing control of the property” once “permanent structures” — like the giant Trojan horse — began to appear.