IRVINE — Three city police officers stood back with nothing to do but watch as Occupy Orange County protesters packed up the last of their supplies during Wednesday's peaceful end of nearly three months of overnight occupation at the Civic Center.
Tents, tarps, audio equipment, a podium and other well-worn supplies were loaded into cars beginning at 8 a.m. at the corner of Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue. Supplies will be transferred to a new site, Fullerton City Hall.
"It's kind of a bittersweet thing," said J.B. Wagoner, a protester from Temecula. "I think that the Occupy movement has reached some of its goals as far as raising awareness of corporate money and politics, but there's still a lot to be done. I think that we'll see the Occupy movement moving forward with positive things."
Since Oct. 25 the city had granted overnight camping rights to the protesters. However, the latest extension of that agreement expired at noon Wednesday.
Protesters emphasize that this is not the end of the movement, just their overnight occupation at the Civic Center.
Occupy the Courts, in which protesters will converge at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Santa Ana, is set for Jan. 20, while camping and general assembly meetings will continue nightly in Fullerton.
Their peaceful approach, unlike much of which has been seen at other Occupy hubs nationwide, has ensured their movement's longevity, Wagoner said.
"Some people went at it the wrong way — they went at it confrontational, instead of peaceful," Wagoner said. "In confrontation mode, people always lose, especially when it's violent confrontation."
While encamped in Irvine, Occupiers, city leaders and the Police Department maintained a peaceful relationship, with the exception of two arrests unrelated to the protest, said Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen.
One arrest was for unlawful sex with a minor, and the other was for intoxication, she said.
"The collaboration and cooperation between the city and Occupy O.C. has distinguished us from other cities," Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang said at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. "We appreciate the professionalism you demonstrated and your willingness to work within the parameters that we established."
Many of the protesters' comments were centered on asking for council members to lend their support to resolutions against corporate personhood, moving the city's money into local banks and credit unions, and creating a permanent plaque to commemorate the occupation.
"I'm upset about it," Abdur Outlaw, an Occupy member, said of relocating. "But, hopefully we'll be able to call it a victory."
Outlaw said he wants to see the council consider the resolutions at its Jan. 24 meeting.
He has been with the movement since it first appeared in Irvine on Oct. 15, and will now be one of the many moving to Fullerton.
Already, protesters have established a relationship with the Fullerton police, Outlaw said.
"As long as we stay tight-knit, as long as we don't let conflict arise from within, then everything will be easy breezy," he said. "The only thing that could truly destroy us is us."