Since October 6, 2011, members of Occupy Houston have used Tranquility Park as their staging area.
At one point dozens of people were part of the movement to protest social and economic injustice, but in recent weeks, only a handful of people have taken part in the local occupation.
Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Police Department have decided it’s time to move out the occupiers and cleanup the park in time for the beginning of the city’s spring festival season.
According to the news release from the Mayor’s office, the City of Houston has reinstituted the dawn to dusk limits on activities in Tranquility Park. As a result, those participating in the Occupy Houston encampment have been asked to peacefully pack up their belongings and leave the park at dusk tonight. The Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team will be on hand to provide transportation to shelters, if needed. The move comes approximately four months after Occupy Houston movement began.
“I told Occupy Houston leaders in January they need to decide the next phase for their effort,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “I support their right to free speech and I’m sympathetic to their call for reform of the financial system, but they can’t simply continue to occupy a space indefinitely. We have to get the area ready for the spring festivals and that necessitates their leaving.”
What did it cost taxpayers? According to the city, providing a police presence at the park for the last four months has cost the Houston Police Department a total of $54,917.68 and $287,268.00 in overtime and regular salaries, respectively. The end to the encampment will free those officers for assignment elsewhere.
The Houston Parks Department estimates it will cost more than $13,000 to clean up and lay new sod in the park.