O'Doherty would not say whether Baltimore copied how other cities handled the protesters.
He said city officials are pleased that many of the homeless protesters took advantage of the bus rides to the shelter, calling homelessness "one of the biggest challenges of the city."
Cherry Hill, he said.
While some of the protesters moved on — to destinations unknown to them — 20 stayed and chanted slogans like, "Put away the riot gear, we don't see a riot here." A gaunt cat climbed on one of the men as they discussed where to go.
Among those unsure of their next move was Angel Wilder, 31, who said she has been unemployed for years because of a disability and since August has been homeless. She trekked to Baltimore from St. Petersburg, Fla., with a friend. Her first night in Baltimore was spent at a Greyhound bus station, before someone mentioned that the Occupy encampment — in its second day at that point — might be an option.
"People said, 'It's so dangerous in Baltimore, people get shot, you should check out this place,'" said Wilder, who was wearing a pink knit hat.
There, she said, she fostered relationships with others down on their luck. She received food, blankets, a tent and a mattress — all donated items.
She said she awoke this morning to the sound of a police radio crackling. She grabbed what she could — several pieces of luggage — but feared she may have left behind a bag containing her identification and pictures of her three children.
"[Police] told me they would take care of the garbage," she said. "That's not garbage. Those are my worldly possessions."
She said she complied with the police orders. "I stand for what Occupy stands for, but, jail sucks," she said with a faint smile.
Before leaving the encampment, Marcus Clary, 21, briefly lingered, holding up a sign with a John F. Kennedy quotation: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
"Is this private property, too?" Clary said after walking across the street through metal barricades that funneled protesters to the corner of Pratt and Light streets. "How can these people go to sleep at night? They're violating our First Amendment rights."
Crowds ranging in size from about 20 to more than 150 people have gathered in the park — a paved brick area near the corner of Pratt and Light streets — since Oct. 4 to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and draw attention to wealth disparities, among other issues. They also joined in several city-focused protests, and gained the support of local unions.
The relatively small number of protesters Tuesday morning was reflective of dwindling physical support in recent weeks. A noticeable number of tents vanished as colder temperatures set in and, according to the group's message board, they recently failed to hold a nightly meeting — referred to as "general assemblies" — for the first time since the effort began. Marshall said the leaderless movement had "a lot of fair weather supporters."
Damien Nichols, 29, had been involved in Occupy Baltimore since the beginning, but over time thought it would be more productive for him to do work off-site instead of camping out at McKeldin Square. He came back to the site at 6 a.m. to join the people he knew had been spending time there. "A lot of our most dedicated members stopped sleeping here," he said.
"We're not done, not by a long shot," Nichols said. "It's not a great tragedy that we lost this space."
Officials initially attempted to strike a bargain with the protesters, offering free tents if the group would agree to have only two people remain at the site overnight. The group declined the offer. City officials later cut off electricity to the park.
In late November, the city denied a second request by Occupy Baltimore to obtain a permit that would allow up to 300 protesters to stay through April. Performances would have included "reggae and other bands on an ad hoc basis" and "street dramas, plays, movies on an ad hoc basis," according to the document.
The encampment attracted activists, as well as homeless residents and others not necessarily affiliated with their goals. It encountered several problems, including disagreements and disenchantment among core leaders, and issues of crime.
"We're getting addicts and drunks down here, and it's a ratio that's hard to deal with, given the number [of activists] we have," David Kellam, who a member of the Occupy Baltimore media team, said in November. "There's about 10 or so people who are working their butts off to hold it together with duct tape."