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Occupy protest removed from plaza

Occupy Baltimore demonstrators who spent 10 weeks protesting against economic disparity have been removed peacefully from a downtown plaza near the Inner Harbour tourist district during a pre-dawn raid.

City police in full riot gear moved into McKeldin Square to remove the protesters who had been camped out at the site since October 4.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there was no resistance from the people staying at the site. "The whole event was orchestrated well, which speaks to our relationship with Occupy," Mr Guglielmi said. "Everything was done very peacefully."

The move by Baltimore officials comes as Occupy Wall Street protesters on the West Coast, buoyed by their successful attempts to block trucks and curb business at busy ports, said they plan to continue their blockades and keep staging similar protests.

Thousands of demonstrators forced shipping terminals in Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Longview, Washington, to halt parts of their operations on Monday and some intended to keep their blockade attempts ramped up overnight.

Demonstrators in Baltimore said about 30 people were camped out in the plaza at the time of the raid. A spokesman for the city's mayor, Ryan O'Doherty, said 23 people were taken to a city shelter and that no arrests were made.

Mr O'Doherty said: "The city made it very clear that they were allowed to protest all day and into the night, but that camping is prohibited."

Protester Mike Gibb, a 21-year-old from Bel Air who participated in a march with Occupy Wall Street protesters from New York to Washington, said the eviction from the square marks "Phase 2" for the movement. Mr Gibb said demonstrators will begin squatting in vacant housing all over the city. Occupy Baltimore will be coming to a neighbourhood near you," he said, adding that the mayor had "opened a can of worms".

Late on Tuesday, about 100 Occupy Baltimore members gathered at the plaza in front of City Hall and held their nightly general assembly meeting. Several blocks away, McKeldin Square was still cordoned off with police stationed there.

City officials recently denied Occupy Baltimore's request for a permit to continue their protest in the plaza and cut off their power supply. Demonstrators had hoped to extend their protest into April. The number of people at the site had fluctuated depending on the time of day and the weather, but participants had said more than 20 people slept there most nights.

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