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Police arrest Occupy Melbourne protesters after clearing square

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A mounted policeman pursues an Occupy Melbourne protester, as hundreds were forecibly evicted from City Square in Melbourne today.

Police are arresting protesters who took part in the Occupy Melbourne demonstration after more than 100 officers moved in to clear city streets.

Riot and mounted police broke up a group of several hundred protesters who blocked the intersection of Swanston and Collins streets after being forcibly removed from City Square.

Lines of police held demonstrators off the streets, and officers then moved into the crowd to arrest protesters.

Police clearly targeted some protesters in the crowd, arresting about half a dozen people.

Some were handcuffed, others frog-marched, to two large police vans brought to the scene.

The large group of protesters has now moved further down Swanston Street to the Bourke Street Mall.

Earlier, police forcibly removed about 100 protesters from City Square after they defied an order to leave by 9am .

Most of the Occupy Melbourne protesters resisted police, and several officers dragged them out of the protest area set up last Saturday.

Some protesters screamed and cried as they were removed.

A small number walked from the site peacefully.

Police had dismantled the campsite some hours earlier, destroying tents and putting belongings into a van.

The tents had been pitched since Saturday as part of the world-wide movement that began as Occupy Wall Street in New York.

The protesters were given an eviction notice and told to leave by 9am.

There have also been scuffles outside the square in Swanston Street where protesters were sitting on the road and blocking trams.

A huge police presence, including mounted officers, are removing the protesters from the road to allow trams to pass.

Meanwhile, the city square looks like a tip as police remove everything from books to food, boxes, pens and rubbish.

Occupy Melbourne spokesman Jacob Grech said protesters had remained peaceful and described the police as disorganised.

”At one moment they’re holding the line and refusing to let people in, and all of a sudden they are running in and arresting people (trying to get in),” Mr Grech said.

He said the demonstrators were prepared to remain in the city square indefinitely.

”We’re telling them (protesters) that it’s their right to protest and stay put,” he said.

”We’re letting them know that if they are arrested they will have legal representation and support.”

Several hundred people have gathered outside the city square watching the spectacle unfold.

Greens MP and federal member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, criticised the City of Melbourne for calling in the riot police on a peaceful protest.

”(Victorian Premier) Ted Baillieu and (Lord Mayor) Robert Doyle have made a huge blunder by sending in the police, turning a week-long non-violent protest into a site of confrontation” he said.

The authorities should have negotiated with the protesters before resorting to heavy-handed.


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