As the deadline set by city officials came and passed, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers filed into the park that has been seized by Occupy Charlotte protesters for months and began forcing them out of the area.
Many protesters refused to leave the area. Others refused to leave their tents, decrying their rights as U.S. citizens as officers put them in handcuffs and dragged them into waiting CMPD vans.
In 45 minutes, officers had arrested seven people. The crowd began to disperse after that, but a large group stood on the sidewalks chanting.
CMPD says no one was injured while making the arrests and no use of force was necessary.
We spoke with several of the protestors as police led them away in handcuffs. When we asked one man why he did it, he said "for free speech."
Two women were arrested. One of them said "this is heartbreaking, I never thought this would happen."
Occupy Charlotte had hoped police would liberally enforce a new ordinance banning camping on city property. Occupy understood the ordinance to exclude tents that were not being used for shelter or sleeping. The city's interpretation of the law dictated the removal of all but one of Occupy's tents on Monday.
“They took our tents,” said Occupy protestor Gina Cernigla, “but the tents were just symbolic. We still plan on staying until the DNC.”
Among those arrested was a man from Winston-Salem, who said he came to Charlotte to show "solidarity with these people because it affects the entire state."
Amid the chaotic scene of tent tearing and arrests, protestors chanted and lodged insults at police. One man shouted, "kiss your rights goodbye." Another woman held a sign that read "police officers are not mind readers."
After the sun went down, about a dozen of the protestors met to discuss the future of the Occupy movement in Charlotte. They plan to seek an injunction against the city on Tuesday to get their tents back.
“We want to make it absolutely clear to the public that we are here to stay,” protestor Michael Zytkow said. “We will continue to fight the good fight regardless if we have tents or not.”