Cost of occupying Fresno's Courthouse Park

FRESNO, Calif.

Helmeted sheriff's deputies moved in early Monday morning and cuffed six Occupy Fresno protesters.

It's the ninth night of arrests at Courthouse Park, with deputies taking a total of more than 60 people a few blocks away to the county jail.

The deputies making the arrests are either working overtime -- at hourly wages of at least $50 an hour -- or they're working a different assignment than usual.

"These are folks that could be in neighborhoods patrolling, keeping neighborhoods safe, dealing with car burglaries, things important to people in neighborhoods," said Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea.

Perea has asked the sheriff's office to figure out how much the response is costing the county.

At least two deputies are keeping watchful eyes on the Occupy Fresno site all day long now, in addition to the officers assigned to make the arrests each night.

The sheriff's office says deputies will not stop enforcing the law requiring people to leave the park after midnight. But because the Fresno protesters have been almost entirely peaceful, the sheriff's response is shrinking.

"We didn't know if we were going to end up fighting these people or if they were going to go peacefully," said sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice. "And because of that, we started big and now we've gotten smaller and smaller."

Curtice says people who are concerned about how much it's costing to enforce the law should come tell the protesters to leave. But despite the continued arrests, the occupiers say they're not going anywhere.

"I just think this is very important and we're not going anywhere," said Occupy Fresno protester Georgia Williams, minutes before she was taken to jail. "We're going to be here."

If neither side backs down, the cost of the standoff will climb on a nightly basis.

The answer to how high it could go could come as soon as Tuesday, when Perea gets his answer from county administrators.

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