By David Koon
Police Chief Stuart Thomas met the press at 4 p.m. this afternoon at Fourth and Ferry, a little-used paved parking lot owned by the city, where the police want to move the Occupy Little Rock protesters currently camping on the grounds of the city park occupied by the Clinton Presidential Center and Park.
City ordinance bars camping in the Clinton park, but not in a parking lot. The city has outfitted the spot with a dumpster for trash and portable toilets. Thomas said the protesters were welcome to occupy that property as long as they want, but he made it clear if they insisted on holding onto their turf at the Clinton Park, they'd be arrested.
"We are obliged to enforce the law and the law simply states you cannot camp in a city park," Thomas said.
At the conclusion of the press conference, Thomas left for the protest site close by to explain. Would the protesters be given a grace period to comply?
Here's our reporting earlier in the day, including film of a protester.
"We're going to resolve this today," Thomas said.
UPDATE: The police granted some leeway after all. The campers, in their meeting with Thomas, were given until 6 p.m. Tuesday to move. Those present said they'd have a meeting tomorrow to discuss the city's decision. But the police chief said the new spot was ready for moving now and invited those present to do so. He noted that they could camp on the new location, but still assemble at will during the day at the Clinton Park, so long as they didn't spend the night. Campers seem to prefer the Clinton location for obvious symbolic reasons. But if they really wanted to try some symbolism, they should consider the Old State House, in view of the trading floor of Stephens Inc.