Police cars and officers lined up on the south side of 400 South between 300 West and 400 West. Occupiers stood their ground on the sidewalk on the north side of the street in Pioneer Park, chanting, “This is what a police state looks like.” Their tents, which have been up for one month, lay on the grass, broken down, their belongings piled into suitcases and trash bags.
Unlike Occupy Oakland, Denver and Portland, officers did not dress in riot gear during the raid Saturday night. In addition to a heavy presence on the street, more than 25 officers positioned themselves inside Pioneer Park and threatened to arrest anyone who entered the park.
Even though officers arrested 19 protesters, the raid remained peaceful.
“I think that the police showing up with an entire block and using thousands of dollars’ worth of force was a threat of violence,” said Fruhwirth, who was occupying Pioneer Park. “I think that we responded with unadulterated peace. And I am very proud that we did that.”
Officials warned the protesters Friday that they must clear out all their belongings by Saturday night or face arrest. The warning came after a man was found dead in his tent Friday morning.
Officers arrested Fruhwirth, who draped an American flag across his back, and two other protesters, after they reentered the park to set up a tent that had been taken down earlier. As protesters were arrested, the crowd shouted thanks as they were led away in cuffs. No one fought arrest.
As they stood on the sidewalk, protesters watched as a front-end loader swept through the park cleaning up any traces of a month spent trying to make a difference. Eventually, the crowd thinned, moving on to Occupy Ogden, homeless shelters or elsewhere. Some caught rides in limos and buses, a service donated by a man who supports the occupation.
Drive by Pioneer Park now, and the only thing left from a month of protesting Congress and corporate greed is the high-tunnel kitchen tent, constructed out of PVC pipe.
So, where do the occupiers now go?
“That conversation is evolving,” Fruhwirth said. “We are meeting with the city council tomorrow at 2 p.m. We have a town hall meeting tonight at 7 p.m., where we will all continue talking.”
Despite being evicted, protesters are allowed a 24-hour presence in the park, but aren’t allowed to camp there.
“We had a meeting last night in the park,” Fruhwirth said. “We are not going to be in the park very much. The point of us being there was to be able to be there and be together and organized basically from the moment we get up until the evening.”
Fruhwirth said that until they find a new space for the Occupy SLC community, there is no point in going back to Pioneer Park.
“We will probably still hold meetings and things there,” he said. “We are by no means going to be down there trying to keep a 24-hour presence just for the sake of having a presence.”
For a slide-show of Guillory's images from Saturday night, click right here.