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DOWNTOWN: Atlanta mayor extends deadline for park protesters | News

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DOWNTOWN: Atlanta mayor extends deadline for park protesters
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ATLANTA -- Backing off his earlier ultimatum, Mayor Kasim Reed has given the Occupy Atlanta protestors an additional three weeks to remain legally in Woodruff Park.

Mayor Kasim Reed issued another executive order Monday, allowing the protestors to remain in the downtown park until after the city council meeting on Nov. 7.

Reed's previous order, issued last week, expired at 5 p.m. Monday.

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In the statement, Reed said "civil disobedience is an appropriate form of expression, provided that it is peaceful, non-violent and lawful." He said Atlanta police will continue to monitor the park and protesters and that the city "is prepared to act swiftly" if conditions change.

He also addressed noise complaints from downtown residents, saying officers will make sure the noise level is down after 9 p.m. City workers will continue to clean the park throughout the demonstrations, the statement read.

Before the mayor announced his extension, Atlanta City Council members acknowledged it was a difficult subject. Councilmember Kwanza Hall said he respects the protestors' philosophy, but cannot ignore the numerous calls he's received from downtown residents, requesting that the park be cleared.

"These particular residents and even me as a council member want to see everyone abide by the rules," he said.

"Currently, the rules are the rules," he added. "We continue to give out parking tickets, we continue to arrest people for doing things wrong. I think we have to make sure that we are fair and equitable across the board."

Downtown resident Jennifer Brooks visits the park often and said it's unfair that she is not allowed to walk her dog there after 11 p.m., but protestors are allowed to stay overnight.

"I think they've already made their point," she said. "And I think they've made their point around the country. It's time to channel their energy somewhere else."

Statement from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Occupy Atlanta in Robert W. Woodruff Park

Civil disobedience is an appropriate form of expression, provided that it is peaceful, non-violent and lawful. As of today, the Occupy Atlanta protesters continue to assemble in a peaceful, non-violent fashion in Robert W. Woodruff Park. Therefore, I have extended the Executive Order allowing Occupy Atlanta to remain in Woodruff Park after the park closes. This Executive Order is effective through the adjournment of the next Atlanta City Council meeting on November 7, 2011.

I remain committed to ensuring public safety and enforcing the laws of the city. The Atlanta Police Department and other city officials continue to monitor the park and the protesters. The Executive Order does not preclude the city from responding at will to changing conditions in the park or to any public safety issues. The city is prepared to act swiftly should the situation in the park so warrant.

I am also cognizant of the concerns of neighboring businesses and residents about the effect of the protesters' activity on the park and the surrounding area. The protesters cooperated with the city's request to clean the park on Saturday; city crews pressure-washed the park's hard-surfaces and removed litter and debris. The city will continue to maintain the park during the demonstration. My administration also will work with Occupy Atlanta members to minimize noise levels after 9 p.m. as a courtesy to downtown residents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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