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Gov: Overnight Camping Must Stop With 'Occupy' Rally

DENVER (CBS4) - Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday that participants in the Occupy Denver rally in Civic Center Park need to stop camping out overnight.

Joined by Attorney General John Suthers and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in his office, Hickenlooper said in a Thursday morning news conference that the protests can continue during the day -- from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. -- but camping overnight is prohibited.

The park has been the site of the protest for many days and so far it has been an around-the-clock event like the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

The three officials said Thursday that there is no permit for the protesters and that sanitary facilities are lacking. They cited a state statute regarding unlawful conduct on public property.

"They can stay until 11 p.m. at night -- we want to make sure that they have ample time for their speech -- but they can't continue to stay there overnight," Hickenlooper said. "Public health and public safety issues continue to grow."

"We have never let the homeless camp in parks," he said. "We don't see how we can let other groups camp in parks, so however fully we support the right of free speech, we don't see that as including that any group can camp in any park."

Hancock, Suthers and Hickenlooper stressed that they will do everything they can to keep the protesters safe and to preserve their First Amendment rights.

It's not clear what will happen if the Occupy Denver participants don't leave at 11 p.m. The possibility of arrests was not ruled out.

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