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Cambridge Police Force Animal Rights Protesters to Leave Square

By Elizabeth A. Gudrais, Crimson Staff Writer

They had planned to sit just outside the gates of Harvard Yard, across the street from Au Bon Pain, for 100 hours straight, come rain or come shine.

But last night, just short of halfway to their goal, the group of animal rights protesters dissembled their cages, folded their tarps, gathered their signs into a van and went to a warmer, drier place to plan their next move.

At 10 p.m. yesterday, Cambridge Police Department officers arrived and asked the protesters, part of the group Animal Defense League Boston, to leave since they had no permit and were obstructing a pedestrian walkway.

But protesters claimed they had gotten approval from city hall.

"They told us no permit was needed because we weren't obstructing pedestrian traffic," said protester Steven Baer.

But apparently, city officials changed their minds, forcing the protesters to cut short their 100-hour protest just 40 hours after it began yesterday morning.

Last night, the raincoat-clad protesters huddled together, discouraged, and discussed their next step.

"[The police] said we could hold signs and stay here all night," said Eric Pierce, one of the protesters who had been in a cage. "If the rest of the group agrees, I'll still go on a hunger strike and hold signs."

The protesters questioned the legality of the police action.

"Basically, they're not letting us use our civil rights and free speech," Pierce said. "This isn't right."

"We had this whole thing planned out and now it's over," protester Karla Starkenberg added. "It's pretty upsetting."

The group plans to participate in other protests this weekend throughout the Boston area.

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