Dan Bewley, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa's police chief is defending his department after officers arrested 10 Occupy Tulsa protestors Tuesday night. Chief Chuck Jordan says his officers were enforcing a city ordinance.
Occupy Tulsa protestors have been camped at the Chapman Centennial Green at 6th and Boston since Friday night.
At 1:30 Wednesday morning Tulsa police officers said the group was violating curfew and placed ten people under arrest, even using pepper spray on several of the protestors.
Of the ten taken into custody three have outstanding warrants, all for traffic violations. One of those arrested was 23-year-old Eli Silva.
|11/2/2011 Occupy Tulsa Arrests|
"Yes sir, that's pepper spray that's not tomato sauce," Silva said.
By mid-morning he was out of jail and back at the green, joining several others. Silva says the protestors knew they would be arrested for breaking curfew but made the decision to engage in civil disobedience.
"We believe, as individuals, that the freedom of speech trumps local city ordinances. The freedom to assemble does not have business hours, you cannot put business hours on freedom," he said.
"I wanted to end this in a completely peaceful, non-arrest way that we possibly could and sometimes the other side won't let that happen," said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan.
Chief Jordan says 25 officers took part in the arrests, adding, the SWAT team was also there in case it got out of control but they never approached the scene.
He says officers used pepper spray because the protestors were not cooperating and it's the least dangerous use of force.
He says they waited several hours after the 11pm curfew before clearing the green and that no one would have been arrested if they stayed on the sidewalk and not the grass.
"We certainly want to defend their 1st Amendment rights, by the same token we ask that they do it legally," Jordan said.
The protestors say they're more determined now than ever, but admit they're trying to figure out if they'll risk being arrested again.
Dan Bewley: Are you going to be back tonight?
Eli Silva: Yes sir.
Dan Bewley: Are you going to be arrested?
Eli Silva: I'm not sure yet, I haven't decided.
Chief Chuck Jordan says it was his decision to arrest the protestors and they'll do it again if necessary. Meanwhile, Occupy Tulsa is planning what it's calling a general assembly at the park Wednesday at 7 p.m.