PORTLAND — One of the first encampments inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement is well on its way to being dismantled, though Portland officials have decided to allow campers four more days to remove 16 tents that remained today.

Demonstrators who touted their tent city in Lincoln Park as the oldest remaining Occupy-style encampment vowed to continue the discussion that the movement started about corporate excesses and economic inequality.

“Just because the occupation is changing form doesn’t mean it’s going away,” said Heather Curtis, one of the campers, before she started hauling away her belongings.

The campers were supposed to be out of Lincoln Park by this morning and dismantled many tents over the weekend. But the city granted a request by the group’s attorney to give demonstrators until Friday to finish the cleanup.

The Portland demonstrators have been in Lincoln Park since Oct. 3 and have company in abandoning their encampments. A new wave of eviction orders has been issued in cities including Miami, Washington and Pittsburgh.

At one point, as many as 70 tents were set up in Lincoln Park, but that number had dropped to a couple dozen by the time a state judge last week declined to grant Occupy Maine’s request for an injunction to prevent the city from enforcing an eviction notice issued on Dec. 15.


City officials cited concerns about disturbances, public safety and sanitation at the park, which is supposed to close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Occupy Maine, which already has office space elsewhere in the city, plans to continue to get out its message through other means.

“You can only fight for so long and you realize at the end that it’s a new beginning,” said Deese Hamilton, one of the four named plaintiffs in the Occupy Maine lawsuit. Hamilton was homeless before joining with the Occupy protesters.

Occupy Maine started up two weeks after Occupy Wall Street demonstrators set up tents and began sleeping in New York’s Zuccotti Park, launching its first demonstration on Oct. 1 in Monument Square and moving to Lincoln Park two days later.

The Portland group described the Lincoln Park encampment as the longest-running occupation.

Other Occupy-related groups in Maine already dissolved. A group camped out at Augusta’s Capitol Park lost a fight in federal court, and a group at the Bangor Public Library voluntarily left the grounds.


This morning, Harry Brown, one of the long-time occupiers, set fire to a flag that had flown at the camp and said it no longer served its purpose just as the encampment no longer served its purpose.

Brown said he did not intend to disrespect the flag, but at the same time, was trying to make a statement.

“I don’t plan to go to jail but I had to do something,” he said, referring to the potential for civil disobedience that some members have expressed.

“I believe in this country and what it’s supposed to stand for,” he said. “It was a flag that served its purpose and the way you dispose of a flag is to burn it.”

According to the etiquette section of the website www.usa-flag-site.org: “When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.” The website does not define “dignified” as it pertains to destroying a flag.

There were no police or representatives from the city at the park at the time.


Others in the group disagreed with the flag burning, but said Brown was free to express himself how he chooses.

“It’s not my choice, but it’s his choice,” said Heather Curtis, another long-time protester who spent this morning dismantling her tent and collecting her belongings.

The city last week issued an order for the demonstrators to vacate their camp after a Superior Court justice ruled the city’s ban on overnight camping was not a violation of the First Amendment.

City ordinance prohibits camping and loitering in city parks after 10 p.m., so the protesters’ daytime presence in the park, despite the city’s order, is not in itself a violation.

Brown, who is homeless, said he will try to find an apartment. He said he is tired of waking up in the cold.

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