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People at Occupy Madison pack up, leave site | News

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People at Occupy Madison pack up, leave site
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Campers vacated the Occupy Madison site on the city's near East Side Tuesday after a Dane County judge ordered them to leave the city-owned lot.

Police said no incidents were reported as people at the site in the 800 block of East Washington Avenue packed up their belongings and various tents Tuesday morning.

By the noon deadline, all of the tents and staging areas had been taken down, WISC-TV reported.

The Occupy Madison movement began last October as a demonstration against economic inequality and social injustice. But the encampment has evolved into a gathering spot of mostly homeless people. About 50 to 60 people have occupied the site.

"I moved in in early February," said protester Mary Jo Walters. "It's a community of people that have come together. We actually like each other."

But Mayor Paul Soglin said the encampment has become a haven for drug use, assault and property crime.

"You cannot build a strong community that's racked by violence, by substance abuse and, most important, denial. Denial of reality and denial of the nature of the problem," Soglin said.

Soglin told the Wisconsin State Journal the encampment will be treated as a hazardous waste site during cleanup because of reports of needles and bodily fluids.

"What we saw over the last month as far as the portrayal of what went on in the 800 block was this romantic myth that a group of troubled people had come together and were solving their problems. That's a lie," Soglin said.

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Soglin said city workers will begin restoring the site block to what it was before the Occupy movement moved in.

For Walters, who isn't homeless, the end of the occupation means moving to an apartment. She said the movement will continue.

"We're really excited to take a rest. Occupying is a lot of work, to stay so visible so public all the time," Walters said.�

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