ST. LOUIS — Several Occupy St. Louis protesters returned Saturday to a downtown park where they've been camping for weeks, hours after police arrested about two dozen of them for disobeying an order to leave.
The protesters had returned to Kiener Plaza by 6 a.m. Saturday, and they obeyed a police request to take down a tent, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Police arrested about two dozen people just after midnight Friday after U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson declined the protesters' request for a temporary injunction allowing them to remain in the park at least through the weekend. She scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to consider whether the protesters should be allowed to move to a different area of the park.
One young man suffered a seizure during the arrests but was conscious and alert by the time an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. The cause of the seizure wasn't immediately known.
St. Louis officials had told protesters to move out of the park by 3 p.m. Friday, but police didn't move in until Jackson's ruling, waiting en masse several blocks away before converging on Kiener Plaza.
In the moments before police arrived, a protester on a bullhorn advised those who were willing to be arrested to stay on the park ground and those who did not want to be arrested to go to a nearby sidewalk.
When they arrived and began arresting people, protesters chanted "Shame on you!," ''Who do you serve?," and "Our passion for freedom is stronger than your prison," at police. Those who defied the order to leave stood passively as they were arrested and led away, and there was no violence.
Bradley Veltre, a 49-year-old union worker who was among those arrested, said he disobeyed the order to leave to stand up for a belief that's central to the Occupy protests — that corporate greed is causing a decline in the middle class.
"I've been waiting for our time to come, and this is it," Veltre said. "If I have to be arrested, I don't care."
Within minutes of the arrests, protest organizers were taking donations for bail money.
At its peak, the encampment had 50 tents, but when police moved into the park Saturday there were slightly more than a dozen, as some demonstrators took heed and left. Those whose tents were taken down could claim them from police.
There have been only a few violent clashes between police and demonstrators in the many Occupy protests that have sprung throughout the country — the most notable of them two separate clashes in Oakland, Calif., in which two Iraq War veterans were hurt.
St. Louis has avoided violence, and until Saturday, only 10 arrests had been reported involving its Occupy protests — all for curfew violations on a night shortly after the encampment sprung up early last month. Until Saturday, police had been allowing the protesters to remain in the park, despite their apparent violation of the city laws.