Occupy Fresno protesters remain defiant

FRESNO, Calif.

"The deputies are basically saying we don't have freedom of speech and we're saying we do. We have the right to assemble, we have the right to address the government with our issues and grievances," said Occupy Fresno protester John Brown.

Occupy Fresno demonstrators remained defiant Monday morning, refusing to leave even after Sheriff deputies moved in over the weekend. "If you want to walk across the park and go home that's perfectly fine but you can't loiter between county property between the hours of midnight and 6 am," said one deputy.

Protesters have been in violation of a county ordinance that doesn't allow people to stay in the park overnight. Those arrested have been taken in multiple times and say they vow to return but deputies have been patrolling the area throughout the day to keep crowds out.

"Our plan is to keep a presence in Courthouse Park to make sure that they don't reoccupy that space. And so far when they do start bringing property onto the Courthouse Park, we tell them to remove it and they do," said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

The past two days, deputies in riot gear have been out making arrests in the early hours. Many of them have been working overtime or moved from their regular shifts, all at taxpayers' expense.

"And I understood that Occupy Fresno, one of their complaints was the Sheriff shouldn't be using the resources and my message to Occupy Fresno is that if you don't break the law, it wouldn't require our attention and we could use our resources somewhere else," said Mims.

Even some residents who've supported demonstrators are now saying they've taken it too far. "Well if it's over, hey, you're disobeying the law. And they've done it once or twice, they need to go to plan B," said Michael Hargis of Fresno.

Many of the protesters arrested multiple times face a misdemeanor for each arrest. Each misdemeanor charge can carry up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

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