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14 Occupy Tucson protesters arrested

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14 Occupy Tucson protesters arrested

Tucson police arrested 14 Occupy Tucson demonstrators Tuesday night, a department spokesman said.

At Armory Park 8 were cited for remaining past the 10:30 p.m. closing time, while 6 were ticked at Veinte de Agosto Park. Another three were cited for camping on the ground of the Main Library, said TPD's Sgt. Matt Ronstadt.

Enforcement action took about 20 minutes, Ronstadt said in a press release. He did not specify whether police personnel were on regular duty or being paid overtime.

There have been over 440 arrests since the protest began Oct. 15, police records said.

54 demonstrators were arrested over the weekend.

Friday night, 22 citations were handed out. 17 protesters at Armory Park and 4 at Veinte de Agosto Park were arrested and field released for remaining in the parks past the closing time. One demonstrator was cited for camping at the Main Library, TPD's Sgt. Maria Hawke said Monday.

Tickets were handed out simultaneously at the three locations, from about 10:35 to 11:30 p.m., Hawke said. On-duty police handled the arrests and ticketing, she said.

Saturday, 17 were arrested: 8 at Armory Park, 6 at Veinte de Agosto, and 3 at the Main Library. The citations were handed out in about 45 minutes, beginning at 10:30 p.m., Hawke said. In addition to three on-duty officers, five policemen received overtime pay during Saturday's enforcement.

Sunday, 15 were cited: 9 at Armory Park, 4 at Veinte de Agosto, and 2 at the Main Library. A sergeant and seven officers were paid overtime to conduct the arrests, which took about 45 minutes, Hawke said.

Occupy Tucson protesters have been allowed to remain in the parks overnight after being cited for the misdemeanor offense of being in a park after 10:30 p.m. Each night, police allow those who wish to leave to do so before making arrests and writing tickets.

Last week, the City Council told police and Parks and  Recreation Department staff to continue to enforce the closing time.

After meeting in a lengthy executive session to hear legal advice, the council discussed Occupy Tucson at its Tuesday afternoon study session.

Police were told to continue to arrest, cite, and field release demonstrators.

Enforcing the park closing time has cost the city about $36,000 in overtime for police, TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor told the council. Over 300 had been arrested up to that time, he said.

But, by releasing protesters after giving them a ticket, instead of booking them into the county jail, the city has saved about $71,000, he said. The county charges the city about $225 for a first-day arrestee. The city has also saved on transportation costs, and is shifting schedules to account for the ongoing enforcement effort, Villaseñor said.

The protesters face a maximum $1,000 fine for violating the park closing rules, a misdemeanor, but many of those arrested for trespassing at unrelated Tucson demonstrations in the past have seen their charges dismissed.

Last Wednesday, the first group of protesters had their court dates moved to Nov. 17.

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