(NEW YORK) -- The Occupy Wall Street protests seem to have entered a new phase as officials in several cities moved to curtail the "occupy" part of the movement with bans on overnight camping in the wake of reports of rapes, drug use, and even murders at protests sites in cities across the country.
In New York City, the Occupy Wall Street headquarters at Zuccotti Park thinned considerably Tuesday night after a judge ruled that the ejected protesters could return but without their camping equipment and tarps. Police even stopped people from bringing blankets into the lower Manhattan park.
Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., officials have enforced similar bans on overnight stays in Occupy-favored spots.
The movement's leaders have defiantly said they are strategizing their next move.
"This is going to make us stronger. We're going to regroup," said Pete Dutro, a member of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) finance committee.
Dutro and other active members have said they are not deterred by the eviction early Tuesday morning.
"We're not going anywhere. They just made this worse," he threatened. "This is just a symbolic center, as is Oakland. Each time they do these things, it localizes the movement more. If they had half a brain they would have let us stay here."
Dutro said he and others in the movement were "negotiating for other spaces."
For those not taking part in the protests, however, the evictions are being met with relief. "99% Clean," boasted today's New York Post headline accompanying a picture of a finally cleaned Zuccotti Park. Some New Yorkers were high fiving cops who cleared out the protesters yesterday, and earlier this week, local business owners staged a counter protest, claiming the filth and crowds brought about by the protest was hurting the business' bottom lines.
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